Good afternoon fellow Ferals!
This week I had the absolute pleasure of being able to sit down with Sarah before her upcoming trip to Everest Base Camp. I met her when she wandered in to the shop with her Mumma, eagerly searching for a new, warmer coat for her adventure. We chatted, tried on some cool kit and she totally and utterly charmed me (totally woman crushing right now). She’s a nurse in the A+E department in Bristol and has an amazingly supportive and adventurous family. I knew I had to get her in to talk about her cool life and why she’s decided to haul herself over to the other side of the world for one epic adventure. Sarah will be averaging 9 hours a day for 14 days to reach Everest Base Camp that sits at an altitude of 5,400 metres.
This is part one of a two-part interview – part two will happen as soon as she’s home and rested from her tip (and I already can’t wait). I won’t keep you any longer; let’s dive straight in! Ladies and gentleman – Sarah Hadler!
HC: So when did you decide that you were going to do this?
SH: My Dad’s done it; He did it back in 2014 and when he came back he told us all about it and was like “It’s amazing!” – I then went to work in a hospital in Nepal and that was just after the earthquake in 2015. That’s when I kinda fell in love with the country – The people are really nice and I just really really liked it. One of the main things that was affected after the earthquake was tourism. So although they were getting a lot of World Aid, their main income is tourism and that really suffered after the earthquake. So I thought that in a weird way I could kind of give back to them in some way by going back and doing something ‘touristie’. Plus, I love a challenge. So that was what made me really want to do it.
HC: That makes all of the sense in the world! Have you always been super outdoorsy?
SH: So I grew up being dragged along on walks with Mum and Dad going to every National Trust property you can think of! We have 4 other families that we grew up with and we used to go camping barns all across the UK and we’d stay for the weekend and just… walk. We’ve done a lot of camping, a lot of walking and lots of other outdoorsy stuff. Then when you get to that ‘teenage age’ you get a bit like “I don’t wanna go on a walk with Mum and Dad.” You’d rather be out with your friends. Then ever since I’ve started my job as a nurse I just find it so refreshing to go outside and be free. At the weekends or whenever I get a day off I enjoy being able to escape the hospital; I’ve regrown a love for it. I think it was inspired from my parents when we were younger.
HC: Yea, you just get older and you’re like “This makes sense”.
SH: Yes! I see why they enjoy it – It’s free (mostly, except for parking), you take a packed lunch and you can just spend some time with you family, your friends or your partner.
HC: And you sleep SO well after a day like that.
SH: That’s true! Insomnia and anxiety in people are more common than we think; and with a stressful job, going out and doing something that’s quite relaxing means you can some back and just *sigh* you just breathe and you feel refreshed. That’s why I enjoy it. Then I figured “Well, I like doing challenging things too” and I thought this would be a good idea. It’s nothing really special it’s kinda ‘just because’ – the love for the country and the love for doing challenging things.
HC: But you are also doing it for a charity too?
SH: So that was kind of a side note – because it’s a bit of a challenge I thought that I could use this opportunity to raise a bit of money. The trip itself is entirely funded by me, but as a side note I thought it would be a good idea.
HC: So which charity are you doing it for?
SH: Southmead Hospital Charity – all the funds are going to the A+E department .
HC: So what was your target?
HC: And you’ve already smashed that?
SH: Yea! So we’ve got about £700.
HC: That’s amazing (side not: If you want to donate too then I’ve posted the link at the end of this interview)! So what group/organisation/person are you doing it through?
SH: So it’s actually a friend of my Dad. He used to work for a college in South Wales and he was an expedition leader and he taught like outdoor pursuit type things. So he retired and still does it on the side-lines. He has got a company but it’s small and it’s not really advertised, it doesn’t have a website or anything like that he just does it through word of mouth and through friends. So my Dad went through him, so I’m going on this trip through him too.
HC: Your Mum was really bigging him up to me and was saying that he’s amazing because he’s cheaper than the bigger expedition groups because he really wants to bring those experiences to people; there are organisations out there that will charge thousands of pounds to do this sort of trip. So how much is this trip costing you?
SH: It’s around £1800. It sounds expensive but he doesn’t make much money. That £1800 covers pretty much everything – Flights, food, accommodation. So it’s probably cheaper than you’d get it elsewhere.
HC: So what isn’t included in the cost?
SH: Not much. Spending money, like if you wanted a fruit tea at one of the tea houses then that’s not included; and also tips for the Sherpas. It’s about $8 a day, so about $112; which isn’t bad at all considering they lug up all of your luggage and go back and forth. They’re super fit. Often they don’t wear shoes and they have these odd contraptions that rest on their forehead and carry the load behind them so their necks must be solid.
HC: That’s quite amazing. How long’s the whole trek taking?
SH: 14 days in total, give or take a few days for weather. So we’ve got a flight from Lukla and that can often be delayed or dependant on weather.
HC: So how are you training for it then?
SH: So I googled how to train for Base Camp and most people just said that you have to be as fit as you can and do lots of hill walking – which is nice and vague. So I ran a half marathon in Exeter at the beginning of February (that was bloody hard), and then we’ve just been doing things link Pen y Fan, lots of walks in the Brecon Beacons, we went up to Shropshire and walked up there and then we recently spent some time up in Scotland too.
HC: The photos from your Scotland trip were amazing!
SH: Thank you! I do really enjoy taking photos on the side-lines too. When we were in Scotland this time around we had so much snow and when I was in last you advised crampons and ice axes, which we didn’t take – So we stuck to relatively low altitude walks because everything else was too dangerous. That holiday we actually got quite a lot of walking done – we went to Glencoe which is extremely beautiful – I’d never actually been before. I was amazed that something so beautiful could be so close to home.
HC: I totally get what you mean; those epic epic long mountain ranges that you could almost liken to a smaller version of the Alps. I went to Scotland for the first time last April and I was completely swept off my feet. I just couldn’t believe it was all so close.
SH: I agree – it was amazing and I can’t wait to go back. On top of that I’ve just been generally going to the gym and swimming and just generally keeping fit. The main thing is the altitude though and that affects people very randomly. I could be as fit as possible and still not make it because of the altitude.
HC: Has your Dad talked to you about the altitude sickness?
SH: Well actually I have asthma, so one of the things I was most proud about with the half marathon was not only finishing it, but getting round the whole route without having to use my inhaler. I’ve had asthma since I was very young – It hasn’t really stopped me from doing anything but I’m always aware of it and being in a medical profession makes you a bit more aware of the risks involved with this kind of thing. When we did the half marathon it was a really cold day which teamed with exertion and asthma wasn’t a great combination. So that was what I was most proud about! I’m not super fit in any way but I do like to try to keep myself healthy.
HC: So do you find that you manage your asthma better when you’re outside and active?
SH: Yea, and my mum has always drilled that into me like “It always improves your asthma if you get out and you keep yourself fit and active.” And it actually does. Also, they do say that altitude is handled better in people with asthma because their bodies are more used to going for periods of time where their oxygen levels are maybe slightly lower than ‘normal people’.
HC: That’s so weird! It’ll be so cool to talk to you in a few weeks and see how you got on! Kit wise, I’m sure you had a pretty big list, are you all set?
SH: So we kinda had a few things knocking around before but yes, we’ve had to spend a bit of money on things like a better sleeping bag, some new walking boots (because I’ve had my old ones for a number of years now and they are certainly not as lightweight and waterproof as they could be), lots of layers, water storage, and lots of other niggly little bits; then I’m borrowing a big waterproof duffle from a friend to get it all in to.
HC: So what kind of things will you eat up there?
SH: So it will be mostly Dahl and rice, mostly cooked in the tea houses; but I don’t think there’s going to be much variation at the top, because obviously harder to carry loads of different bits up. I did a trek in the Annapurna range when I was working in the hospital in Nepal. We got a weekend off and went up for a couple of days so I’m kinda prepared for what they’ll be serving.
HC: So are you mostly camping or are you in Mountain Huts?
SH: We’ll mostly be in the tea houses, and then I think we do two nights camping further up if we want to. The trip organiser we’re going with is super relaxed and because he’s been doing it for ages (I think it’s over 15 times) he’s got lots of contacts – so there are other options for us if we are really not keen on camping.
HC: Have you had any handy little tips from Dad?
SH: Don’t eat the Yak burgers! He said everyone who ate the Yak burgers came down with horrendous diarrhoea. He also said that he put a Berocca in his camelbak every day and that really helped him. He helped out with sleeping bags; because he said that getting a good night’s sleep is already hard enough at that altitude, without the cold too. Apart from the stuff my Dad’s said though I’m going in blind, which is really exciting. I haven’t really spent loads, because on a nurses salary and with all the kit that’s out there it’s quite daunting. So I’ve tried to keep the costs fairly cheapish, so hopefully I’ll come back and tell you that I made it and it was all okay!
HC: Oh my Goodness, I hope so! I can’t wait to talk to you when you get back. We’ll be able to go into so much more detail about the trip itself, but it’ll be cool to have this interview as a reference to who you are. I want people to read both of these interviews and kinda go “oh yea, it’s not unattainable, I can do something that epic too.”
SH: Absolutely. Basically I’m just an average, everyday person, who’s not extremely fit and likes to keep at themselves and outdoors and loves a challenge. I’m just going in with the most amount of knowledge that I can possible get and seeing how it turns out.
HC: So you’re off in two weeks’ time?
SH: Yep, on the 28th of this month.
HC: Great! I’d love to get you back for a second instalment, obviously once you’re back and rested.
SH: Yea definitely!
Sarah, I wish you all the luck in the world. You are going to absolutely smash it. Get some wonderful photos, travel safe and stay away from Yak Burgers! I can’t wait to see you again.
For everyone else, follow this link to donate to Sarah’s Everest Trek for Southmead Hospital Charity – it’s all going to an amazing cause and, not to sound too cliché, every little bit really does help.
If you want to follow Sarah’s Journey, updates and general life-ie goodness (her smile will make your damn day) then follow her on instagram!
And that’s it for another week folks! I’ll chat to you next Wednesday.
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