Am Bratach No. 329
March 2019
editor@bratach.co.uk

 

Borgie woman set for epic trek to heart of the Himilayas

Walking guide Sarah Maclean takes on a challenge of a different order when she leaves for Mount Everest’s Base Camp in Nepal on March 29. Mrs Maclean, who lives in Borgie with her husband Andrew and two young children, was drawn to the idea of travelling to the world’s highest mountain after meeting the son of a man who climbed Everest many years ago and hearing about his adventures.

“I’m in the hills a lot and I’m quite outdoorsy, so it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” she said. “It’s a new experience for me, and that’s the main point — to experience the height and the enjoyment of it.”

At home in Borgie, Mrs Maclean runs a guiding business called “Land of Views”, which offers anything from short local history walks to full Munro expeditions. She says she has become particularly fascinated by the archaeology of the area. “A lot of the things are so far out of the way, that if you didn’t know they were there, you would miss them,” she said. By sharing the stories attached to these sites, she hopes to bring to life the history behind what might initially appear as piles of rubble.

An interest in history and culture is also behind her forthcoming expedition to the Himalayas. “I’m also going there for the culture and for something absolutely different to everything that I know,” she explained. “People say that the people are so friendly and the culture is ancient. For me, getting immersed in the culture and way of life as I’m going up there will be absolutely phenomenal.”

Mrs Maclean’s Everest trek is facilitated by a Gloucestershire company called Mountain Kingdoms, one of a number of British companies which arrange walking holidays worldwide. The company offers a number of trekking options in the Himalayas, taking visitors as far as Base Camp and Kala Pattar, from which the best views of the mountains can be seen. Mountain Kingdoms does not guide clients to the summit of Everest itself, limiting expeditions to what are known as “trekking peaks”.

At an altitude of over 5,000 metres, the trek to Everest’s Base Camp will take Sarah Maclean higher than she has ever been before. “I have nothing to compare with, so I’ll just have to see how I get on. I’ve done altitudes of two to three thousand metres, but nothing above that,” she said. “You can’t get any training for acclimatisation until you’re there. You just have to go slowly and listen to the guides. As for training, it’s a trek really — it’s walking — and I’m a hillwalker anyway, so I feel pretty fit for it.”

She has chosen an April departure to avoid the busier festival period which takes place during the alternative trekking window of November. “I wanted to get away from a lot of people and immerse myself in the countryside and the gigantic mountains,” she explained. “There are many people doing Everest now and it’s become a lot more commercialised, but I do think that it’s having a positive impact on Nepal as well.

They now have a whole industry around the treks, and that’s bringing money into the economy.” In keeping with the local tradition of stringing “prayer flags” along mountain ridges high in the Himalayas, Mrs Maclean will carry with her a flag made by the children of Farr Primary, which her son attends. She has visited the
school to share with them plans for her adventure.

Above all, she hopes that the experience will enhance a lifelong love of mountains and the humbling impact of their scale. “People that are like-minded always have a reason to get up that hill — whether it’s for the exercise or just to get away from life for a few hours and think,” she said.

“Every hill that you go up, you’re trudging to the top, and then you suddenly realise you’re at the top and the views take over and you feel very, very small in a big area.” Travelling from the north of Scotland to the Himalayas can only intensify that sense of scale. At an altitude of only 927 metres, Scotland’s most northerly Munro, Ben Hope, would fit into Mount Everest (8,848 metres) nine times over.

The first official ascent of Everest was made by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953.
 

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