“Look, that is Mt Everest” our Sherpa AD coolly pointed to a distant snow capped mountain peak amongst a couple of other similarly snow capped peaks. I, along with 11 other trekkers from Malaysia and Australia looked excitedly towards the direction where AD was pointing. It is difficult to describe how I felt at that moment – exhilaration, sense of achievement, awe, relief, ecstasy and wonderment that I am actually here on Pikey Peak 4068 metres above sea level and looking at the highest mountain in the world albeit in the distance. It was one of the main reasons why I joined this trekking adventure to Pikey Peak in September/October 2018.
5 of us (walking buddies) from Melbourne flew out of Melbourne on 29 September and met up with 7 Malaysian fellow walkers in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal on 1 October. On the flight to Kathmandu via Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, I had time to contemplate about the trip and was just slightly anxious/nervous about how I am going to fare on the trek. For the first time in our group walks, I will be the oldest in the group, the trek would be on very different terrain at higher altitudes from ones I have done before and I had hardly trained at all. This was partly due to lack of time as I had returned from a big trip to Norway, Finland and Russia at the end of July. The friends in Melbourne were training hard & it spurred me to do the 1000 steps at Mt Dandenong once and walked along a track near my house for about 2 hours.
To add to my nervousness, I had fallen and hurt my back 2 weeks before my trip running with the grandchildren, I suffer hay fever with the commencement of spring and had very bad cold sore on my nose which needed medication. The only thing that sustained me during the 2 months before my trip was practising tai chi very regularly and almost on a daily basis. I am certain that tai chi contributed to my success in getting to Pikey Peak. In the end, I not only completed the trek but was consistently at the lead of the pack and did not suffer as badly as some of the others. For example at one of our daily walks, hailstones pelted down at our faces plus wind and rain. It was wet, cold and very miserable but because I was ahead by at least ½ an hour of the next lot of walkers, I did not get as wet or cold.
In total, I trekked over 100 kms in 5 days up and down steep slopes with loose pebbles and some very rocky terrain, sometimes on very narrow ledges that one can tumble down the steep incline if one is not careful and have good balance. There was one day when we climbed equivalent to 99 storeys high over a distance of 23 kms. On the other extreme, we had to pick our way very carefully over muddy swamps that threaten to swallow you up if you missed a step. A number of my fellow walkers fell but luckily no one was seriously injured. Others had personal assistance from the sherpas accompanying us eg the sherpas carried their day packs and generally gave them a helping hand during difficult tracks.
The regular practising of tai chi had contributed to my fitness and well being during my adventure in Nepal. It helped me develop strong core muscles, strong legs, flexibility, resilience, good balance and endurance.
If you are contemplating a trekking adventure in high altitude, do not dismiss tai chi as only useful for daily living but it will definitely help you to climb that little bit higher and longer.
Instructor, Hawthorn and Ashburton
Updated: 27 February 2019