A Trek Through the Himalayas

Keith Elliott, owner of Elliott Roofing, Edmond resident and father of three, returned April 2 from a 21-day trek through the Himalayas to Mount Everest base camp, walking the same trail as Sir Edmund Hillary, the first explorer to summit Everest.

The strenuous journey was more than 80 miles round-trip, in the coldest March the region of Nepal had seen in 20 years, with 50 mph winds and temperatures dipping to minus-40 degrees wind-chill. Elliott and his team reached the summits of Kala Patthar (18,500 feet) and Island Peak (20,400). The challenges were both mental and physical, as his team braved the cold and the physical changes due to high altitude; some suffered frostbite.

“It was something that I’ve wanted to do for the last ten years,” Elliott said. “You learn a lot about yourself on a trip like this, your limitations, and you have a lot of time to reflect on what’s important.”

Elliott left the United States on March 4, flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, then flew to Lukla, where his trek began. The team spent most nights in tents, but four were spent in flimsy lodges, which were just buildings made of stone and wood, with extremely thin walls.

“It was actually warmer in our tents at night than it was in the lodges,” Elliott said, but even in the tents, with nothing but down sleeping bags and candle lanterns for warmth, it was still cold enough to freeze the water in their bottles.

Water is very important at such high altitudes because it is easy to become dehydrated, and Elliott had to drink between four and six liters a day. For food, Elliott and his team stocked up on carbohydrates – mostly rice, pasta and cabbage. The Sherpa people, who transported a lot of their gear with the help of yaks, did all of the cooking and became very good friends with Elliott and the other Americans. The Sherpas would wake them up with a cup of hot tea at 6:30 every morning and serve breakfast by 8 a.m. Then the team would average about six hours a day on the trail before making camp and settling in for the night by 8 p.m. Sleeping is very difficult at that altitude, and Elliott would normally wake up at around midnight and just doze until morning.

“The landscape of the Himalayas is unbelievable. When we summited Kala Patthar, Everest was right across the range.”

For Island Peak, they needed crampons (spiked boots), ice axes and repelling gear.

“It wasn’t just a physical and mental journey, but a spiritual journey,” Elliott said. “I think once you’ve pushed yourself to these limits and experienced the culture and lifestyle of the people there, a bad day at the office doesn’t seem that bad. Once you overcome adversity in that way, it puts things back in perspective back home.”

Located at 3900 N. Harvard Avenue in Oklahoma City, Elliott Roofing has been around since 1981, and provides residential and commercial roof replacements and repairs. For more information, visit www.elliottroofs.com.

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