Our local adventurers living the life

Our peeps

Our local adventurers living the life

Himalayan high adventure
Peter Martin

Picture Supplied

Buffalo City ophthalmologist, Dr Niel Holmberg, along with his wife, Lorraine, and three medical friends, decided a few months ago that they would fly to Nepal and climb one of the highest peaks of the Himalayas.

The peak chosen was Imja Tse, better known as Island Peak, situated in Eastern Nepal. The mountain was first conquered in the 1950s.

The other three doctors in the party were Dr Dave Fleischmann, Dr André du Plessis and fellow ophthalmologist, Dr Kevin Rivett, and they flew from South Africa to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

From there, a short flight took the party to Lukla Airport through dangerously high peaks. The Tenzing-Hillary airport, also known as Lukla Airport, has been described as the most dangerous airport in the world from which to land and take off.  Over the years, a number of crashes have taken the lives of pilots and would-be Everest conquerors.

Everest is about 10km from Island Peak and Holmberg and his party hiked past the base camp of Everest to get to their destination.

The base camp of Island Peak is at 5 087m and the climb to the summit (at 6 189m) usually starts between 2am and 3am on the climb day.

“It’s an amazing country, Nepal, and an experience of a life-time,” said Holmberg. “Lorraine and I always wanted to go to Nepal. The people there are very religious and everywhere we saw prayer flags flying.

During the day, it is cool, but very cold at night, well below freezing.”

Holmberg has memories of the village named Namche Bazaar where most visitors, on their way to the higher mountains, stay a few days.

Holmberg says that items are relatively expensive in Nepal but the higher they climbed, the more expensive commodities became.

“I recall that a hot shower cost about R40,” he said.

Island Peak, of course, has its risks and there have been reports of deaths on the mountain.

“You do get short of breath because of the altitude,” Holmberg said,

There was a bit of an anti-climax for Holmberg personally on climb day as he was not feeling too well and thus missed the opportunity to get to the summit, which was successfully negotiated by Fleischmann, Du Plessis and Rivett, along with their guide.

But hundreds of photographs of their trip taken by Dr Fleischmann and made into an entertaining book constantly remind Niel of the exciting time he and his wife and three Buffalo City companions spent in Nepal.

“The mountains are so majestic and beautiful. I honestly wouldn’t mind going back there again one day,” Holmberg said.

MBSA Leaders

MBSA Leaders during a Q & A session at the 2017 MBSA Annual Results event held in Pretoria, from left: Johann Evertse, Carsten Spohr, Nadia Trimmel, Jasper Hafkamp, Joerg Essig, Florian Siedler and Mayar Bhana

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