Dartmouth firefighter completes trek to Mount Everest base camp after 4 years of waiting

A firefighter from Dartmouth, N.S., has spent the last eight days walking through muddy paths and across bridges to get to the Mount Everest base camp in Nepal.

“The overall view of the Himalayas is incredible and hard to describe — beyond breathtaking,” said Andrew Maggio in an email, who reached the camp on Sunday. 

He was able to see the base and the top of Mount Everest, but the rest of it was obscured by some of the other mountains in the area.

“Seeing the campsites of the actual climbers off in the distance is impressive as there were so many since the month of May is the start of the peak climbing season for those attempting the summit,” said Maggio.

‘Widening my view of the world’

The base camp is a chance for hikers to get to see Mount Everest up close, but to actually climb the mountain, an expensive climbing permit is required from the Nepal government.

“I feel that I benefited from the whole experience by widening my view of the world and learning about other cultures,” said Maggio, who has been planning to do the hike ever since 2015.

He said he was inspired to do the hike by a former co-worker.

“She and I both booked our trip through G Adventures for May 2015, but after the tragic earthquake that struck Nepal in April of that year, we were forced to cancel our plans,” Maggio said.

Preparing for the trek

Happy Mother’s Day from the Mount Everest base camp on May 12.

“It wasn’t until this year that I had both the time and resources to follow through with my original plan,” he added.

For the last couple of months, he has been preparing for the trip physically.

Maggio said that he feels fortunate that Halifax’s fire department “encourages a healthy lifestyle.”

“All the stations have a treadmill along with some other fitness equipment. Each shift… I would try to get a short walking workout in on the treadmill while wearing either a weighted vest or my hiking backpack loaded up with some weight.”

He’s also a part-time primary care paramedic with Emergency Health Services’ Ground Ambulance Services and has been with them for eight years.

Overcoming challenges

Maggio said his biggest challenge in doing the trek was trying to adjust to the altitude. Normally, people would get headaches or nausea as oxygen levels lessen at high elevations.

“I did find it a bit of a struggle to catch my breath until I could get myself into a comfortable pace and control my breathing,” Maggio said.

“Also, staying hydrated is really important for helping prevent altitude sickness. The challenge there was unless we were buying bottled water, we had to treat the water that we would fill our reusable bottles up with.”

Maggio said he’ll be enjoying the rest of his trip in Nepal and that he’s planning to go onto new adventures.

“I’m very interested in visiting Cambodia to see Angkor Wat temple as well as travelling to Africa to hike Kilimanjaro as well as explore Victoria Falls during the dry season so I can wade out to the edge of the falls in what’s known as the Devil’s Pool.”

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