Working with Destination Himalayas - the journey so far...

We are very excited to be working closely with lecturer Tommy Yuen and twelve students from

HKUSPACE Po Leung Kuk Stanley Ho Community College to make their expedition to Mt Haba, "Destination Himalayas", a reality.

With a strong focus on the personal development of the students, we are guiding the team through the neccessary planning, risk assessing and hard skills training, so that they can have a successful expedition. Below is what one of the teammates wrote about their recent training to Sharp Peak in Sai Kung:

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone by G.

Why are you joining this trip? You don’t even like hiking or camping!” Everybody was curious about my decision to participate inthe “Destination Himalayas” project. Truth be told, I knew nothing about outdoor activities and I thought hiking was extremely boring.

However, studying “outdoor experiential learning” and “adventure” for the past two semesters I became eager to take a step forward andtry something new. I had never been to a wild camp in my whole life until I joined the selection of this project in January. But what turnedout was the experience made me appreciate that outdoor activities are great fun. My second camping trip which gave me the experience of cresting Sharp Peak during Easter Holiday even proved that my assumption about hiking was wrong.

When we were planning the Sharp Peak expedition, I was at first little involved in the team as I was not familiar with the hiking route; I did not even know where Sharp Peak was. It seemed that I couldn't be of any help at all but could only rely on my teammates. During the planning process I felt rather bad about myself.

A day before the camp, there was a woman getting injured at Sharp Peak, which caused me much anxiety. Questions like “Will I get injured?” and “What if I die?” popped up in my mind. The thought of me with no hiking experience at all suddenly being required to "conquer" Sharp Peak, the most challenging trail in Hong Kong, was rather unsettling. But at the same time, I was so excited about the challenge that I was going to take and was looking forward to seeing how far I can go.

On the day of cresting to Sharp Peak, we woke up at 4 am, which is normally the time we go to bed. It took us half an hour walking from Chek Keng to Tai Long Au, but I already felt so tired and started to be extremely worried about myself. I felt this trail was an impossible challenge, how am I going to finish the rest of our planned trail? I just couldn't imagine how tough it would be. We were being required to start holding a straw in our mouth, pretending that we were hiking at a high altitude.

Simulating breathing at high altitude

I believed it was the start of a nightmare. Walking with a 14kg rucksack and a straw in my mouth, plus sweat dripping all over my body was not comfortable at all.

However, everything was out of my expectations. Even though we were literally hiking on all fours, it was not as tough as I thought. Seeing the top of the Sharp Peak far, far away was so motivating. It was like my dream was right there and I was trying to chase after it. When I reached the top of Sharp Peak, I was unspeakably delighted. “I am finally here! The Sharp Peak challenge has finally been overcome!

Just when I thought the most difficult part was over, the real challenge began. Going downhill was not exactly difficult, but very scary; the hill slopes were steep and the metalled road was narrow and slippery. If I had mistaken the step I would simply fall down the hill.

Reaching the top of the mountain and going downhill gave me a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, underestimating our own ability may not be entirely a bad thing because we can then be surprised by and delighted with what we have done eventually. The most important thing is that we have to keep trying.

Throughout the whole process, I kept telling myself - I can either choose to enjoy TV programs at home or do something meaningful with life, so why not make the best of my day and stretch beyond my limits, and see how far I can go?" By G, a student on the Destination Himalayas expedition.

The team have been doing fantastically during their planning phase. so we are all very excited to get on that plane to Kunming and begin our expedition through Tiger Leaping Gorge and up Mt Haba. Watch this space!

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