‘Every mountain top is within your reach if you just keep climbing’ – Barry Finlay

Awakening my Spirit in the Himalaya

My trek to Everest Base Camp sponsored by Sherpa Mountain Adventures, Realities for Children and Zeal Optics

by Sydney Bergen, Executive Director of Realities for Children Boulder County

On the first night of my great adventure I had a dream of a Himalayan cat and I knew my spirit had been re-awakened. My intention going into this journey was to be a human BEing, rather than just a human doing, and to ignite the open mind and heart that traveling into the unknown brings. My purpose in life is to spread joy and inspire others to seek greater happiness so that they can live a creative and intentional life, and I knew that this trip was a way for me to reconnect with that mission.

On October 22nd, 2018 we started our trek from Kathmandu to Lukla (true to its reputation, it is one of the world’s most exhilarating airports!) I had not seen any of the Everest movies and pictures do no justice to this incredible region, therefore I had minimal expectations on what I would find, never imagining how magnificent the infinite beauty of the Himalayas would surprise me with. I was partaking in a trek with Sherpa Mountain Adventures (SMA), the only Sherpa owned trekking and guiding company based out of the US. I had gotten to know this company through my dear friend Eric, our guide for the trek and Founder of the nonprofit I run, Realities for Children. Not only does SMA donate a trip to one of our Boulder County youth each year, they also contribute to many nonprofits in Nepal protecting the natural environment and strengthening the social fabric, health and education of the local communities there. This year they happened to be leading a medical mission at the same time as our trek and successfully treated 1,300 patients over 3 days in a remote rural village.

Realities for Children is the organization I run and we support youth that have faced abuse and neglect and often have ended up in the foster care system. We step in by providing scholarships, housing and funding for youth in times of transition, most of the youth we serve are between the ages of 18-25. SMA’s sponsored trip this year went to one of our youth who has overcome extreme adversity and I was honored to be able to experience this trip through her eyes, as it was her first experience overseas and completely out of her comfort zone.

Watching her embrace the journey with an inquisitive spirit and open mind was equally as rewarding as conquering the physical challenges of the trip. The best part was that she is now motivated to go back to school, finish her degree, possibly start her own business and give back to the world.  This trip really brought our mission to fruition and I’m so proud to be able to be part of the collective effort to bring eye-opening experiences and opportunities to the youth we serve.

The trip was approximately 120 miles over 17 days. Our lowest elevation was 8,563 feet and the highest we reached was 18,514 feet at the top of Kala Patthar. I was traveling with a team of 6 others and many highlights of my trek were through connecting with them in an experience that is too rich for words. Embracing my intention of just being in this journey was the biggest highlight for me, I was disconnected from technology and communication from home (although surprisingly you could access Wifi the entire trek!) We reached such great heights in order to get as many views of the magnificent Mt. Everest as we could, and while she is a grand beauty, I was equally as mesmerized by the surrounding mountains and ranges.

Zeal Optics provided our team with sunglasses for the adventure, allowing us to trek in style and truly SEE the beauty surrounding us while protecting our eyes from the extreme elements that come with such high elevation. Zeal is a Boulder based company and are invested in integrating with the local community here. I’ve had a great relationship with their wonderful team through my work at Realities for Children and was excited to learn that they collect and donate used glasses for the dZi Foundation, an organization that works in partnership with remote communities in Nepal to create lasting improvements to their quality of life.

These collaborative efforts and intersections of our communities reinforces the impact we can have when we work together for social good and the immense impact of embedding purpose into your business model.

This trip for me was not life-changing, it was life-awakening and my spirit has been energized by the magic of the Himalayan mountains and people. I am an enthusiastic fan of Zeal’s eyewear, this year I’m happily snowboarding in their newest goggle style and seeing my place in this world!