Carrying a backpack is the usual way trekkers make the long journey from Nepal to Mount Everest Base Camp, but Tom Schellenberg and Kyle Roberts added a very strange wrinkle to their journey. They also carried canoes.
Needless to say the brothers received plenty of surprised looks along the 120-mile, 18-day trek to base camp.
“Everyone we passed on the trek was completely awestruck,” Roberts told FTW Outdoors in an email upon returning to Kathmandu over the weekend. “It was almost impossible to not have a conversation with everyone we passed about who we were and what we were doing.”
What they were doing was calling attention to mental health issues and raising $150,000 for a women’s mental health facility in Kathmandu. The canoes on their backs were meant to represent the extra burden of people living with mental health issues, according to CTV News.
The two-year Mount Everest/Nepal project is part of an ongoing effort by the Canadian brothers’ “The Weight We Carry” initiative designed to impact mental health.
They have nearly half the money raised for the mental health facility in Nepal and hope that a documentary by Seton Roberts, another brother who chronicled the trip, will help lead to more donors.
“Most of the Nepalese people in these parts of the Himalaya would have never seen a boat before in their lives,” Roberts told FTW Outdoors. “They smiled, laughed and asked to take photos with us along the way. Nepalese people generally believe in karma and are very thankful to anyone doing good or benefiting the people of their country, especially the less fortunate. For this reason we were always greeted with gratitude and fascination.”
Schellenberg, 28, and Roberts, 31, reached Mount Everest Base Camp on Jan. 17 and it proved to be “emotionally overwhelming and relieving at the same time,” according to Schellenberg.
“Base camp was the accumulation of all of the work Kyle and I have done over the last two years to make the dream of The Weight We Carry into a reality, the support of all of our friends, family and donors along the way and completing a physically and mentally taxing trek over 18 days to base camp with my brothers,” Schellenberg told FTW Outdoors.
“The accumulation of these feelings caused me to burst into tears of joy as soon as we arrived as I felt entirely overwhelmed with emotions, love and support.”
Roberts called it the “most meaningful accomplishment of my life” and said they were all in tears making the final steps into Mount Everest Base Camp.
The brothers got the idea for a woman’s mental health center after visiting Nepal following the devastating earthquakes of 2015 and recognizing a need for such a facility. Having dealt with mental health issues within their family, Schellenberg and Roberts are sympathetic to the cause.
“The Weight We Carry is about everyone involved and most importantly the power of supporting mental health around the world,” Schellenberg told FTW Outdoors. “I feel honored to have the ability to contribute to impacting people’s lives through mental health support as I have been fortunate to see and feel the benefits in my life.”
Photos courtesy of Tom Schellenberg, Kyle Roberts and Seton Roberts.
“Everyone we passed on the trek was completely awestruck,” Roberts told FTW Outdoors in an email upon returning to Kathmandu over the (…)