This November, Auxilion’s Dale Walton completed his trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. He did this as part of a team fundraising for the charity Paces, an organisation based in Sheffield working to support people with cerebral palsy and other motor disorders across the UK. In total, the expedition raised an amazing £42,000, with Dale contributing £12,200 of that alone. He told us about the trip.
What inspired the Base Camp expedition?
“I normally do something for a charity each year. I’ve been working with Paces in various ways over the last couple of years and we decided to do this trip to support them. We began organising it in 2022. It’s the biggest fundraising project anyone has done for Paces, so we’re very proud of that.”
The expedition required extensive training. The group did several preparatory treks, sometimes covering as much as 45 miles across a weekend. Dale also used an altitude training setup several times a week.
“I was quite well prepared as I do weekly spinning classes and strength training. I walk about 30-50 miles a week as well- the benefits of having a dog!”
Dale’s group set out with a detailed itinerary, which you can find here: www.charitychallenge.com/expedition/itinerary/3748/Everest-Base-Camp-#tabs.
“From leaving London to returning, the trip was 18 days. We did the trek itself faster than we intended- it was meant to be 10 days up and four down, but we did it in nine up and three down. We could’ve gone even faster, but you’re not meant to go more than 500 metres up in a day because of altitude sickness.
“We summited Mount Kala Patthar [18, 519 feet], and then came down to Base Camp. Those were meant to be separate days, but we got them both done in one. We got back to Kathmandu a day early and got to see some of it, which was really interesting. We had three days and two nights there.”
What were the main challenges of the trek?
“The sherpas that were with us were really experienced so that helped a lot with any challenges we had. Sleeping at night at -18 degrees could be pretty tough! We were in wooden huts with no windows, heating or in some cases electricity. We had sleeping bags graded to -20, which help, but you can’t get into them fully clothed, or you’d be too warm- you have to get undressed and into the bag as quickly as you can and then the reverse of that the following morning.
“You can experience shortness of breath during the night as well, almost like you’re suffocating. That can be scary, but the sherpas were reassuring that it would pass pretty quickly, and it did.”
Arriving at the Peak
How did it feel to arrive at Base Camp?
“It felt amazing arriving at the peak. There’s no greenery up there or anything, it feels prehistoric, it’s strange. You realise how high you are when there are helicopters flying below you! I was flying home from Dublin recently and we were at 18,000 feet- roughly the same height we’d hiked to on Mount Kala Patthar.
“It’s one of the best feelings of achievement I’ve ever had. I was concerned all the way through preparation and the trek about getting an injury and not being able to complete the journey, so there was a sense of relief too. I got attacked by a yack on the second day of the expedition as well so that could’ve been game over! But I got away ok thankfully.
“There’s also a great sense of achievement around the funds we’ve raised for Paces and the work they’ll be able to do with that. They’re trying to expand their specialist school for people with cerebral palsy and other motor disorders at the moment, and the money we raised will really help with that.”
How has the return to normal life gone for Dale?
“We’re back two weeks, the only real issue I’ve had is jetlag! I only took a day off work and was back working and exercising then.
“Returning to a normal diet has been a bit of a challenge as well- we were only really eating rice, beans, noodles, and lentils on the trip, so that’s been a bit of an adjustment back.”
“I’d recommend the expedition to anyone. It was a great experience. We’re already talking about another expedition now for 2025! We’re talking about Patagonia, Kilimanjaro, and Machu Picchu as potential options. You can do a section of the Great Wall of China as well apparently. We’ll take some time to decide and get planning.”
How does Dale feel now reflecting on the trip?
“I’d recommend it to anyone. It was a great experience. I’m very proud to have done it and to have raised so much for Paces.”
Congratulations to Dale and his team for a terrific achievement!