What you need to know:
- And she’s halfway through, having this week landed at the iconic Base Camp which rests at 5,364 metres high, much higher than Mt Kenya’s peak that stands at 5,199m.
Dr Faith Mwende is a scholar and financial expert with a grand dream: To be the first ever Kenyan woman to reach the peak of Mt Everest, the world’s tallest mountain.
And she’s halfway through, having this week landed at the iconic Base Camp which rests at 5,364 metres high, much higher than Mt Kenya’s peak that stands at 5,199m.
The Mt Everest peak stands at 8,849m, meaning that, from Base Camp, Mwende and her team have some 3,485 metres to summit, tackling the most difficult section of the climb.
Base Camps are basically campsites that climbers use to attack the summit, a sort of strategic address to strategise.
Interestingly, Mwende isn’t new to Base Camp as she’s been there before during her “recce” for the ground-breaking climb. She hopes to summit in just under two weeks’ time in mid-May.
“I prepared over a long period of time including doing Mt Everest up to the Base Camp, Mt Kenya to the top 10 times, Mt Kilimanjaro to the top three times, Mt Elgon, Mt Meru in Tanzania, Mt Nyiragongo in DRC, Mt Longonot and all other local mountains countless times, including the Abadares and it's known peaks the likes of Mt Satima, Kipipiri, Rurimeria, Kinangop, Elephant Hills, table mountains etc countless times,” she told Nation Sport last week as she launched her climb.
“I also kept fit by swimming, going to the gym - I go to Next Level Fitness Gym and Spa at Gateway Mall - and eating a healthy diet of traditional foods like ngwacie, ndumas, githeri etc, as well as energy giving foods.”
Mwende’s climb campaign – under the mantra “No Summit Is Too High” - revolves around sustainable ways of mitigating against the negative effects of climate change while advocating for interventions on addressing mental health and peace.
She is a certified investment and financial analyst, senior compliance officer at CMA, youth mentor, peer counsellor, mental health champion, golfer and mountaineer, but with a background in finance that saw her attain her Doctorate in Finance in 2021 with research area of interest being derivatives from United Stated International University, Africa and Columbia University in New York.
Among her lead sponsors is her home County Government of Makueni with Safaricom PLC, having also come on board as the latest partner with a donation of Sh1 million this week towards Mwende’s historic venture to champion the fight against climate change, educate on mental health and foster global peace.
The cheque was handed over to the the head of the “No Summit too High Secretariat” chairman John Thiong'o in Makueni County during the grand launch of the Makueni County mobile application
Below is Mwende’s story, in her own words during the climb, on the experience as told exclusively to Nation Sport:
Day 9: (Monday, April 24) to present (Day 15, Friday, April 28):
From Lobuche (5,030m) to Base Camp (5,364m):
There is no internet along the climb from Lobuche to the Base Camp, which is at 5,364m but the Mwende’s “No Summit Is Too High Secretariat” in Nairobi is currently getting updates from the climb organisers on the ground.
Day 8: (Sunday, April 23):
From Pheriche (4,374m) to Lobuche (5,030m).
“The weather today was good and sunny. We scaled to a tiny village called Lobuche, at 5,030m, where we are spending the night today at the Sagarmatha National Park. Tomorrow, we head to the Base Camp which is 5,364m
Day 7: (Saturday, April 22):
From Thyangboche (3,868m) to Pheriche (4,374m).
“Today’s distance was around nine kilometres, which took around four and a half hours.
The snow along the way and the was warming the earth below, and there was a breathtaking view of the peaks, above 6,000m, like the beautiful Amadabla. ‘Ama’ means mother in Nepali language.
Ama Dablam is a mountain in the eastern Himalayan range of Province No. 1, Nepal. The main peak is 6,812m.
"I feel good and fit. I do 10-minute work-outs in the morning and evening and some yoga.
I’m using warm clothing that’s waterproof as now we have started experiencing snow. A buff is important to cover the face and keep the wind away and a sun hut too. For the summit I will be dressed much, much warmer."
"My advice to ladies who wish to join mountaineering is they should start, if they have not started, as every day is a step. A step at a time and they'll get there. With consistency and resilience, they will be up to the challenge."
"Meanwhile, it's important to take care of our environment and mother nature as our environment affects our well-being, including our mental health and peace.”
Day 6: (Friday, April 21):
From Namche (3,444m) to Thyangboche (3,868m).
“Today we did a trek from Namche Bazaar (altitude of 3,444m) to Tengboche (3,680m). The distance covered was 9.2 kilometres with a total trekking duration of 4.5 hours. Today for breakfast, I had apple porridge, musli and milk dawa - which they call Ginger, Lemon Honey in Nepal - and then fruits, namely apple and pomegranates. I have one guide for now, but I will have a Sherpa when I get to the Base Camp to take me to the summit."
"I have a local Mobil operator, the Ncell, which is working for now. I also have another internet operator card known as Everest Link that will work up to the Base Camp.
From the Base Camp to the top there’s no internet!"
"We are still going through the villages or towns with social amenities like schools and hotels, so we are sleeping in hotels."
"Today we spent the night at Tengboche (or Thyangboche) at a hotel called Himalayan Hotel, which has cafes etc."
"Yesterday at Namche Bazaar, we spent at a hotel called Nivarna. Tengboche is a village in Khumbu Pasanglhamu rural municipality in the Khumbu sub-region of Province No. 1 in Nepal, located at 3,867 metres (12,687 ft)."
In the village is an important Buddhist monastery, Tengboche Monastery, which is the largest gompa in the Khumbu region. The structure was built in 1923, but in 1934, it was destroyed by an earthquake but subsequently rebuilt.
It was destroyed again by a fire in 1989 and again rebuilt with the help of volunteers and the provision of foreign aid.
Tengboche has a panoramic view of the Himalayan mountains, including the well-known peaks of Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Thamserku.
Tenzing Norgay, who was the guide of the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand, was born in the area in the village of Thani and was once sent to Tengboche Monastery to be a monk.
"The support from family, friends and well-wishers is overwhelmingly great and I’m determined, with your support, to get to the summit. Let's keep at it as we gain elevation to the top!"
As Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to Summit Mt Everest, said: “It's not the mountains we conquer but ourselves, and as my mantra 'No Summit Too High' says, there is no challenge or Summit in life insurmountable. Together we can conquer the summits life throws at us.”
Day 4 & 5: (Wednesday, April 19 & Thursday, April 20):
From Lukla to Phakding (2,610m) to Namche Bazaar (3,444m) – Rest Day & Acclimatization at Namche Bazaar (market):
“Just doing small hikes to the Everest view point of 100m climb and back to Namche for acclimatization since we gained an elevation of above 500m yesterday from Phakding (2,610m) to Namche Bazaar (3,440m) hence gaining 830m in elevation in a day. It's always advisable when one gains an elevation of above 500m in a day to stay at the higher altitude destination for two or more days for the body to acclimatize. Stayed at the Everest View Point Hotel where we can see Mt. Everest peak and many other, above 6,000 peaks.”
Day 3: (Tuesday, April 18):
“We flew from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu to Lukla, a small town in the Everest region at the base or the foot of the mountain where the climb starts.”
Day 2: (Monday, April 17):
“Today, we rested in Kathmandu for expedition briefing and preparations.”
Day 1: (Sunday, April 16):
“We arrived at Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, today and transferred to the hotel.”
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To follow regular updates of Dr Mwende’s historic Mt Everest climb, stay at: www.nation.africa/sports