We are honored to have been selected to travel to Nepal and photograph an expedition of climbers as they trekked to Mount Everest base camp in April of 2017. Our trek was organized by Lakpa Gyelu, a world-famous Nepalese Sherpa guide who set the current world record for the fastest ascent to the summit of Everest. He did it in 10 hours and 56 minutes—a feat that takes most climbers weeks.
The purpose of the trip was to raise money and awareness for Radiating Hope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance cancer care in developing countries. Radiating Hope commissioned me to document the trip with incredible still photos so that they can use them in their PR and marketing materials to let people know what they are about, hopefully enticing more people to get involved and bringing in more money so they can continue to help other developing countries save lives.
Our goal was to raise enough money on the trek to be able to donate four radiation machines to the people of Nepal. Currently, there are only six radiation machines in the entire country of nearly 30 million people. That’s only one machine per 5 million people. As a comparison, here in the United States, we have one machine for every 100,000 people — that’s 50 times as many machines per capita!
Because of the limited availability of radiation machines in Nepal and much of the world, unfortunately, a diagnosis of cancer is essentially a death sentence. So increasing the number of radiation machines in Nepal from six to ten will make a huge difference in their ability to save the lives of significantly more people over the coming decades.
We were able to raise over $100,000 in cash, and the four radiation machines were donated by Gamma West Cancer Services, a local hospital in northern Utah. Several outdoor gear companies including Black Diamond, Cotopaxi, Red Fox, ProBar, and Mountain Ops also donated equipment for the trek. These companies and many television news channels across the country have been telling the story of our philanthropic adventure.
During the two and a half weeks that we spent on the trail, we hiked well over 47,000 vertical feet in total elevation gain. Throughout the trip, all of the climbers carried prayer flags like the ones shown above, each one dedicated to an individual who has fought the battle with cancer or who is currently in treatment. I personally carried about 200 prayer flags for friends, family, and loved ones that had been affected by cancer, including my mother who died of brain cancer ten years ago.
The flags were blessed by a Buddhist Lama in a special ceremony and strung out at Everest base camp. Over the coming months, as the Himalayan winds blow against the flags, they will slowly unravel. As each thread is blown away into the winds, it represents hope, strength, and well-being in honor of that individual.