Bellingham Athletic Club

Birthday at Mt. Everest Base Camp

Each of us chooses to celebrate our birthdays in different ways. Of course, certain birthdays are considered milestone birthdays, sweet 16, nifty 50, and so on. With the coming of each of these milestones, some of us may choose to do something extraordinary. Something that may be on our bucket list.

For two BAC members, they decided to celebrate their 70th birthdays with an extraordinary adventure, going halfway around the world to Nepal and trekking to Mt. Everest base camp (17,600 ft)! Lynn and Jean Dayton made the commitment of going to Mt. Everest this past spring for the adventure of a lifetime!

The preparation for this adventure began last year. Lynn and Jean have been members at BAC on and off for over 30 years. The past five years they both have been participating in group classes as well as doing a little strength training but they both knew that they were going to have to do a bit more in preparation for their Mt. Everest adventure. To assist them in their training they enlisted the help of BAC Director of Fitness, Mike Locke, and with his guidance underwent a regiment of strength training and interval training on the treadmill. They also utilized their neighborhood trails and did day hikes with packs on Chuckanut. To assist them with testing their cold weather gear for Everest, Lynn and Jean visited Bellingham Cold Storage and their refrigeration units which are kept at a chilly -24 degrees F! Brrrh!!

Lynn and Jean’s Everest base camp adventure began on April 19th with their flight into Kathmandu, Nepal (4000 ft). After two days of rest, they took a helicopter flight from Kathmandu to the village of Lukla (9300 ft). From there they hiked to the village of Monjo for their first night’s stay.

One of the keys to such a trek is acclimatizing to the altitude—climb high, sleep low! For 3 days Lynn and Jean did acclimatizing hikes in Namche Bazaar (11,200 ft). Namche Bazaar gave them their first real view of Everest. This type of trip is quite a production, 6 yaks carried the team’s gear under the direction of 6 Sherpas and the owners of the trekking company. Lynn and Jean came away with an appreciation for the Sherpa people, who they describe as a friendly, helpful and fun-loving people although the children are a bit camera shy.

With the 6 Sherpas, 2 owners, 6 yaks, and 13 clients, the group made their way across suspension bridges spanning the many tributaries to the Dudh Kosi. It was during this trek to Tengbouche (12,800 ft) that they saw some of the most majestic views of the Khumbu regions peaks (Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and Ama Dablam). On May 2nd, Lynn and Jean successfully reached their destination, Everest Base Camp (17,600 ft) where they spent one night in their tent.

Lynn said, ”Visiting Nepal, the Himalayas, and Mt. Everest was never on my ‘Bucket List’. It hit me though, as I stood viewing the region and mountains that had been such an influence to me, that they were the inspiration to my 50+ years of mountain climbing. I started climbing just 4 years after Jim Whittaker became the first American (and 10th person) to summit Mt. Everest. So I had a teary moment or two just thinking about that. I never dreamed that I would be there especially at 70 years of age!”

“Reflecting on the trip“, said Jean, “Nepal was beautiful and the Himalayas were breathtaking. The people were very friendly and welcoming. Our trekking company made things easy for us. The Sherpas and guides took very good care of all of us. Everything was ‘Top Notch’ considering where we were and what we were there to accomplish.”

“When Lynn first came to me with this dream of his, I thought he had ‘LOST HIS MIND’”, said Jean. “Lynn and I are active but not nearly as active in our backpacking/alpine treks as we were pre-retirement. Retirement and traveling have changed our activities somewhat. We do more trail hikes and not always with packs. Both Lynn and I still get to the club, but for me, exercising in the water is much easier on my back. Mike helped us build a strong core, incorporating body weight and resistance exercises which got us prepared!! Thanks, Mike, for helping us achieve Everest Base Camp (cold and beautiful).”

What’s next? Jean says she is still thinking about it, however, she thinks it is her turn to pick and she will carefully consider her options!

Congratulations to both Lynn and Jean! We are glad BAC could help in your success!!