Student dazzled by Nepal's beauty


Fifteen days in one of the most remote regions of the world has given Palmerston North student Arron Hefford an appreciation for the simple things in life.

A shower, a glass of water or walking on sealed streets are all hard to come by in the Himalayas, where the Awatapu College student has just been through a self-funded youth explorers trek in Nepal.

"It's quite hard to describe because it was so special," the 17-year-old said.

"It is a lot different to New Zealand and it was such a big culture shock.

"The people were very nice and the scenery was quite breath-taking, literally and figuratively, with the altitude."

Hefford left New Zealand for Kathmandu with 15 other students and two leaders on April 15 after hearing about the expedition in the school notices last year.

"I thought it sounded interesting because I'd done some studies on Nepal and Sir Edmund Hillary previously," he said. "‘It was very exciting waiting for the trip to go because I'd talked to the people in charge and a girl in Palmerston North who had gone previously who said I would enjoy it, so I was anticipating a good experience."

After flying into Kathmandu the expedition took a connecting flight to the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla - the centre of the Himalayas where their trek would begin.

"We followed the main tramping track from one town to the next, meeting people and taking photos," he said. "We also had a look at the impact Western civilisation had had, for example the Himalayan Trust - founded by Sir Edmund Hillary - built schools and hospitals.

"Everyone was really friendly and they loved to take pictures and have a conversation, if they knew English. One shopkeeper even had a conversation with me with a few Maori words."

The expedition was made aware of the fatal avalanche that killed 16 Sherpa guides on April 18 on neighbouring Mt Everest.

"The Sherpas communicate down the mountains and we found out there had been an incident, but didn't know the details," he said. "One of the guide's brothers died up there so he left but we met up with him and the wife of his brother and gave her a bit of money.

"It was sad because our leaders all talked to us about it and talking to his wife brought it close to home how dangerous the region is."

Hefford and his group hiked to 4600 metres during a day trek to the Ama Dablam base camp, staying the night at 3900m at Pangboche.

"The walk was optional but everyone did it on Anzac Day after a dawn service," he said. "The climb up took us a couple of hours but the view from the top of the mountain was beautiful - it was an overwhelming experience." - Manawatu Standard

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