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Rhonson Ng’s bucket list-climb to Everest Base Camp

August 15, 2019 - Thursday 3:08 PM by Daniel Joaquin

Article Banner Image THE CLIMB. Rhonson Ng reaches Everest Base Camp at 17600 feet.RHONSON NG

DAVAO CITY -- Professional photographer Rhonson Ng has climbed many mountains and shared photos from each tough climb with people through newspapers, magazines, websites, exhibits, and more. Having conquered many of the Philippines’ peaks, he decided he wanted to do something that has been on his bucket list since he started out as a mountaineer in the 1990s: climb Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Nepal.

It began when a niece of his decided to climb to EBC two years ago. That’s when Ng said to himself, “I think I should do this na. I’m not getting younger and para macross na sa bucket list ko.”

(I think I should do this now. I’m not getting any younger and it’s about time I crossed this off my bucket list.)

That’s when he started to look for the money to fund his adventure. Sponsors such as Fujifilm and MX3 helped him financially, as well as a number of friends here and abroad. He was also able to receive some financial assistance from Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong: Go. Despite the generosity of others, Ng still had to take a significant amount of money out of his own pocket due to the trip’s high cost.

As soon as all the funds were taken care of, Ng started training for the climb, knowing that the trek was going to be more physically challenging than anything he has ever done. He started daily runs, gradually increasing from two kilometers to eight and finally to 15 kilometers. He also ran up to Shrine Hills in Matina to condition himself.

Three weeks before his flight to Kathmandu, Ng climbed Mt. Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin with a few experienced Filipino climbers, including Carina Dayondon, the first Filipina to climb the Seven Summits. The climb enabled Ng to get a few tips from Dayondon and gave him the chance to trek a fairly challenging trail before the big climb to EBC. However, on the way down from the summit, Ng almost sprained his ankle, prompting the cancellation of a supposed practice hike to the peak of Mt. Apo prior to his flight out of Davao.

Arrival in Nepal

Ng was finally on his way to Kathmandu on April 20 and was scheduled to depart for Lukla only two days later. The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in the town of Lukla is known as one of the most dangerous airports in the world, with Ng describing the flight as one of the scariest parts of his Nepal adventure. The fact that a plane crashed on the way to Lukla three days before Ng’s scheduled flight did not help calm his nerves at all.

Upon landing safely in Lukla, Ng was finally on his way to EBC. It was practically a solo climb, with only a guide and a porter to keep him company. Despite having a porter, Ng had to carry 10 kilograms worth of equipment -- his Fujifilm XT3, three lenses, a jacket, and some water -- with him at all times.

BREATHTAKING. The scenic view of Namche Bazar. RHONSON NG

Experienced mountaineers always say that in high-altitude climbing, the key is to climb high and sleep low to allow your body to acclimatize properly. Following this concept, Ng climbed up to Namche Bazar, which was his first acclimatization situated at an elevation of around 3,000 meters.

After sleeping, Ng ascended to 4,000 meters the following day and climbing even higher on the next. With the altitude starting to take a toll on him, Ng decided to spend the night at another stop slightly lower in altitude than Namche Bazar, which allowed him to rest properly and prepare for the rest of the climb.

The struggle to sleep grew only higher as he reached Dingboche, which is at around 4,000 meters. Ng recalls meeting a number of people deciding not to push through to EBC after experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness.

To make sure his body acclimatized properly, Ng ascended to 5,000 meters from Dingboche twice before finally going up to Lobuche, the second to the last stop when climbing up to EBC. Deciding not to spend the night at Gorakshep due to its high elevation, he trekked straight from Lobuche to EBC in a day, leaving at seven in the morning and finally arriving at his destination at 11 a.m.

Contrary to what most people think, Mt. Everest is not at all visible from EBC, and most people who make the trip do not get to see the mountain along the trail. Luckily, the sky was exceptionally clear just a few minutes Ng arrived at EBC, allowing him to have a glimpse of Mt. Everest — which brought him to tears.

Ng spent roughly half an hour at the base camp, enjoying the sight which, according to him, was  taken straight out of movies about Mount Everest.

The few minutes he was able to spend at EBC was worth the time, money, and effort needed to get there, and he plans to go back next year and possibly even go higher than just the base camp.

GLORIOUS. The Mount Everest as seen from Everset Base Camp. RHONSON NG