Would you take us to Everest Base Camp? The question to Scottish mountain guide Mungo Ross came from Calton Athletic Recovery Group, which helps people in Glasgow confront and recover from drug addiction and alcoholism.
Mungo said Yes.
That was in 2014. From then until the November 2016 trek, eight CARG members, aged from 30s to 60s, set about raising most of their £3500 trek cost, helped by grants of £4500 from the SMT. In the same months Mungo was helping them prepare with training trips and bothy weekends in the Scottish hills, aiming to build mountain fitness and – just as important – to get to know and trust one another.
Mungo arranged that the organising would be done by Jagged Globe, the trek company he often works with, and their local agent Summit Nepal Trekking.
The trekkers kept diaries, and moments from them, we think, say it all.
* Loads of gratitude for the Sherpa Guides, these guys are the heartbeat of our trip. Feeling very emotional today, tearful a few times about getting closer to Everest Base Camp and thinking of my family. Learning to take one day at a time.
* Total eye opener, Himalaya altitude taking no prisoners and if we didn’t think this was going to be hard we do now! … Breath-taking mountains with starlit nights, Everest keeps appearing teasing us with her beauty.
* The thoughts of the last two years running through my head sitting with this group of men who I consider not just friends but a band of brothers, Sherpas included. 3 days walking to Base camp.
* It’s the end of the road for me as I’ve got all the symptoms of AMS and have to be sent back down the mountain. It’s heart-breaking and I feel I’ve failed my task after all the effort I’ve put in. I’m gutted!
* Two of the team had to return to lower altitude. Very emotional meeting for the group and we agreed that Mungo would travel with the boys and that the Sherpas would look after us until Mungo could return.
* A few of the group were looking to be fatigued. Had lunch then they appeared to pick up. We agreed to tackle Base Camp and were all excited but also apprehensive about the altitude. We managed to get there and take loads of photos…totally amazing experience.
* I was here for my son and mum and an emotional time for me, she was and is with me every day but part of my journey was to lay some of her ashes in a beautiful place.
* (Mungo Ross) To say that this journey has been as emotional as it has been physical is an understatement – it has been an enormous privilege to share this journey of recovery and discovery with a remarkable group of men.
Since the Nepal trip Mungo has kep in touch with the group –to see them running in the Stirling Marathon, to join them on the last day of a West Highland Way walk (fourth time for some), and for an ascent of Ben Nevis in a Three Peaks Challenge. “They are certainly committed to recovery and staying clean!”
Links: Mungo’s full trek report on the Jagged Globe site: https://www.jagged-globe.co.uk/news/report.php?id=1367