Canton School Bus Driver Hikes to Mount Everest Base Camp
Motivational guru Tony Robbins said: “Don’t limit your challenges; challenge your limits. Each day, we must strive for constant and never-ending improvement.”
Jeff West lives his life by this truth. After running the Peachtree Road Race for 39 years, this 61-year-old followed through on a long-held goal to hike 72 miles to the Mount Everest Base Camp. “I have wanted to take this hike for years,” West said. “I finally decided now is the time!”
Over the last winter school break, West booked a flight to Nepal that included 45 hours of flying and layovers. On the final leg of the trip, West flew into Tenzing-Hillary Airport, also known as Lukla. This is considered the most dangerous airport in the world. The runway is only 1,640 feet long, with the Himalayan mountains on one end and a sheer drop-off on the other. Only pilots with a special rating are allowed to land there.
West spent a total of 11 days hiking to the base camp. (It required seven days to climb up and four days to come back.) “With this hike, and my running, I have gone enough miles to circle the earth at the equator more than once!” West said. People like West, who challenge themselves to push physical limits, and strive for constant improvement, inspire us to think we can accomplish way more than we think we can.
“To make my solo hike to base camp, I hired an experienced guide and a porter,” he said. “The porter carried the hiking gear. We started the trek on a mountain called Ama Dablam (elevation: 9,318 feet). The final elevation at base camp is 5,364 meters, which translates to 17,598 feet.”
“I didn’t have much time to acclimate to the extreme elevations and low temperatures. December is usually the coldest month there. On the hike, I slept in Teahouse Hostels. For the entire 11 days, I lived off rice and pasta. I was told not to eat the meat in Tibet. And, even though I’m in good physical condition, there were times when I could only take about four steps at a time before I had to rest. It was difficult to catch my breath. In my lifetime of training, this low-oxygen hike has to be the hardest thing I have ever done.”
The tenacity of the people of Nepal left quite an impression on West. “The Nepali people are resolute, laid-back and endure the harshest of conditions without ever complaining. They are happy with so little,” West said. “A huge snowfall came only days after I completed my hike. If the big storm had come just two days earlier, I would not have been able to attain my goal of reaching base camp. I’m forever grateful I got to experience the majesty and scale of the highest mountain on earth.”
– Susan Schulz is a Bible teacher and mentor who lives and plays on the Etowah River in Canton. Connect with her on social media or at susanbrowningschulz.com.