Gerry Elsdon gets taste of Everest

Gerry Elsdon, middle, adventurer Sibusiso Vilane, second from left, and fellow climbers posing for a picture at the base of Mount Everest in Nepal.
Gerry Elsdon, middle, adventurer Sibusiso Vilane, second from left, and fellow climbers posing for a picture at the base of Mount Everest in Nepal.
Image: INSTAGRAM

Gerry Elsdon has scaled heights she never dreamed of before.

The businesswoman and former television personality has reached Mount Everest's base camp at 5,600m above sea level. That is all 3,000m below Everest's summit.

Elsdon, who was recently ordained as a pastor of the City of Zion in Sandton, was trekking alongside seasoned climber and mentor Sibusiso Vilane. The two left the country on May 12 and landed back in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Elsdon told Sowetan that she suffered from altitude sickness. Though her body was still swollen, she decided to take a 24km run yesterday.

"It is very interesting how I became interested in climbing Mount Everest. Sibusiso Vilane had taken me and the group from Caring for Girls on a trek for Mandela on Mount Kilimanjaro.

"I summited Kilimanjaro three times, and he asked what was my next step. I told him I would like to visit Mount Everest and the base camps which are 5,300 above sea level. I said my dream was taking on all seven peaks."

Elsdon, who enjoyed the adventure expedition, said that some of the challenges of climbing were the air which becomes thinner as you go higher, headaches, and vomiting. "When you're climbing, you go up, rest and come back down.

The trick with high altitude climbing, you can't do it at once. Otherwise, your brain will swell and you won't be able to do it.

"We started at Kathmandu in Nepal, we rested the next day because you need to allow your body and lungs to adjust."

Asked how she felt about reaching 5,600m on Everest, Elsdon said the experience was "extremely rewarding".

She conceded that climbing Everest is dangerous and that before attempting to reach its summit at 8,800m, she would climb other tall mountains for stamina and experience.

Elsdon said the "practice" climbs would include mountains such as Aconcagua in Argentina, which is 6,960m above sea level, and Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) in Tanzania, East Africa.

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