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Adventurous Alberton Couple trek to Everest Base Camp

Local mechanical engineer Jonathan Delport along his wife Jenna, recently reached Everest Base Camp in shorts despite sub-zero temperatures.

Trekking alongside his wife Jenna, Jonathan Delport traded potholes and load-shedding for yak-induced traffic jams in pursuit of reaching the base of the tallest mountain in the world.

Jonathan had no idea the adventures he was about to embark on when he married writer Jenna Cook almost four years ago.

The couple has just returned from Nepal, where they achieved one of their life goals together by trekking across the Himalayas to reach Everest Base Camp (EBC) at an altitude of 5364m.

Among their remarkable achievements is Jonathan’s unique way of conquering the extreme conditions of the journey, by wearing shorts throughout the entire trek despite sub-zero temperatures, reaching -26 Celcius.

“While the breathtaking scenery of the Himalayas is one of the major highlights of the trek, Jonathan and I also experienced the local culture by visiting monasteries. We spent hundreds of rands on expired Snickers bars and dodging herds of yaks with bells ringing the entire way,” explained Jenna.

The trek to Everest Base Camp

Incredibly, their adrenalin-filled adventure began by landing at one of ‘the world’s most dangerous airports’, in the mountain village of Lukla.

Jonathan Delport during the trek. Photo: Jenna Delport

From the moment they landed, they were faced with sub-zero temperatures as it had snowed just two days before their trek.

“The cold didn’t faze Jonathan in the slightest, as he trekked in his shorts the entire way – much to the shock and amusement of guides and fellow hikers along the trail. Almost every day he was stopped and asked why he wasn’t in long pants (or if he could even afford long pants) and became quite the topic of conversation. He thrived in this environment,” Jenna said.

Jenna said the route to EBC, winds ripped through pine and cedar forests situated along the Dhudh Kosi River.

Prayer flags, suspension bridges and boulders carved with Buddhist inscriptions are common sights as the Delports made their way from Lukla to Phakding, a small Sherpa village situated at 2652m.

“The higher we climbed, the more expensive essentials became. Simple things like toilet paper, snacks and even water can cost hundreds of rands because everything is in short supply. What’s more, most of the snacks purchased along the way were years beyond their expiry date,” she said.

From Phakding, Jonathan and Jenna hiked to Namche Bazaar, known as the gateway to EBC where they spent two nights at a local tea house adjusting for the trek.

According to Jenna, it is here that they had the opportunity to hike up to Syangboche at 3860m and catch their first glimpse of Mount Everest.

Peak at highest mountain above sea level

For the first few days on the trek, she said it’s common to see helicopters flying overhead every half hour.

During a break along their way in Phakding, Jenna with Jonathan Delport. Photo: Reese Holler

“Yet once you hike above the 4000m mark, you’re so high up that the helicopters fly in the canyons below you. Many of them would be carrying trekkers or climbers who are being medically evacuated due to altitude sickness or other dangerous conditions that can take hold along the way,” explained Jenna.

Bidding Namche Bazaar farewell, Jonathan and Jenna made their way to Tengboche along one of the most beautiful portions of the trail – with the river running below and Everest peaks in full view.

While the trek is not difficult in a technical sense, she said it’s the altitude that poses a real obstacle from this point onwards.

The beautiful view from the trail on route to Lobuche. Photo: Jenna Delport

“Yet it’s common to see porters achieve the impossible by carrying couches, mattresses and even other people all the way to EBC. From Tengboche, the route rises above the tree line at 4000m and passes through alpine meadows and yak pastures on the way to Dingboche, Lobuche and Gorak Shep before finally reaching EBC. It is here that I realised I had tiny icicles formed on my eyelashes and eyebrows,” she said.

Built alongside the Khumbu Glacier, EBC is said to be encircled by some of the highest and most iconic peaks in the world.

On asking the couple about the most difficult part of their journey, they revealed it was leaving their two rescue dogs, Sundae and Ember, at their Alberton home.

Jenna would love to visit Antarctica, while Jonathan has his heart set on summiting Everest, provided he reaches the top of the world in his shorts.

This adventurous couple would also love to take part in the next season of My Kitchen Rules South Africa.

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