Our dermaviduals Ambassador, Robyn McAlpine, recently conquered Everest Base Camp. When we heard about her adventure, we couldn’t wait to talk to her about it and hear all about her adventure!
What inspired your adventure?
“Not surprisingly, this adventure began in my treatment rooms, as the conversation between myself and a client evolved to travel and ultimately, Everest. I decided at that exact moment that I was going. And so, it began. I’m a big believer putting your dreams into action. We can all say “one day” but that day will never come unless we are willing to jump in feet first and make it happen. Everest was kind of like that!
After a challenging few years personally, I was ready for an energetic shift and I knew I needed something big. I wanted to shake up life and push myself to the absolute limit of my physical and mental capabilities. I wanted to see if I was as strong as I thought I was. Turns out I stood up to the test. Everest was everything I had hoped for and more.”
Was it what you expected?
“Despite running a successful business, I’m not a details person. ‘Structured’ and ‘Robyn’ are two words that rarely meet in the same sentence. This adventure was no different. I didn’t research the track or familiarise myself with the villages we would pass; I didn’t even open the itinerary attachment from the travel company. I was happy to have a strong element of the unknown and to look at each day with fresh eyes. I’m sure some of you reading this are fighting waves of anxiety at my lack of perceived organisation! My apologies… please take a deep breath! I assure you it all works out in the end!
I’ve spent time in Asian countries so I’m well practised in ‘primitive’ facilities. Hello, squat toilets, no running water and intermittent electricity at best. I knew I had to adjust my skincare routine accordingly.
What I didn’t expect was the spiritual and emotional transformation. You can’t plan for these things or follow a recipe for an exact result. I didn’t plan for or have an expectation of how I was going to feel. You can’t really plan for that like you can plan for a marathon or birthday party or a work meeting. I found that by being open, without expectation, with open eyes and an open mind to look at everything (including the toilets!) through a lens of humility and gratefulness, that I had such a reaffirmation of my own strength and character.”
How long did the trek take?
“The trek to Everest Base Camp takes up to 10-14 days with acclimatisation days sprinkled in along the way. The higher you go, the more difficult each step becomes and the slower your pace. Breathing becomes more laboured. Your backpack feels like someone slipped in a bag of cement when you weren’t looking. It’s not a race to the top, it’s about enjoying/enduring each step along the way.
Some of the days are long and arduous. Being able to go to your happy place whilst still enjoying the challenge of climbing mountains, primitive toilets (or sometimes none), exposure to the elements, no hot showers (for days at a time) and repetitive, carb-heavy meals can be a bit of a challenge. Some days you really need to dig deep into the mental reserves to make it to the next village.”
What toll did this take on our body?
“Altitude sickness doesn’t discriminate. Grown men turned back and didn’t make it, so it’s not always about the survival of the fittest, but I learned more a game of mental strength and endurance.
I’ve been at similar heights on previous adventures so knew that with a little cardio training that my body would manage. It was hard – incredibly hard, but not as hard as I had imagined (I have a vivid imagination, I envisioned exhaustion so great that I would end each day on hands and knees crawling the last 100 meters, like someone lost in the desert crawling to an oasis! It was close… but not quite!).
My skin suffered a lot during this adventure. The elements were harsh, my frown and smile lines grew cavernously deep (thankfully there were no mirrors and everyone suffered the same) and my skin was incredibly dry. Even though you drink 3-5 litres of water each day, dehydration is a big thing and it was very evident on my face. My skin was lax, lined and dry.
The lack of oxygen affects your breathing greatly but also skin. My vital organs were the priority so my skin was last on the list for receiving oxygen and nutrients.
The sun is harsh. I must confess that I did get sunburnt on the last day waiting for a very delayed helicopter. My face was shaded but as there are no trees, grass or vegetation at that altitude, the light just reflects off the rocks and the snow, catching me off guard!”
What skincare did you bring?
“With a limited amount of weight that I could carry, I was willing to sacrifice almost anything to make sure I could fit in my skincare! Who needs clean socks right?!
Knowing that I was going to be exposed to the elements every day (rain, hail, shine, snow, wind, blizzards…), dermaviduals’ SPF 30 and Oleogel Plus was an absolute MUST for skin protection and a barrier cream.
Water for cleansing was a big issue. There were several days in a row where I did not have a bathroom and that which I did have, was a communal ‘hole in the ground’ with a drum of water for manual flushing, the powder room of your worst nightmares! dermaviduals’ Cleansing Milk with DMS was my hero. I was able to cleanse my skin without the need for water. The DMS factor of this cleanser was also an immediate soothe on windburn and skin exposed to the elements all day. I didn’t pack makeup but I ended each day a nice shade of “grime and grit” which was no match for my cleanser!
dermaviduals’ Lip Balm – essential! One in my pack, one in my pocket and a spare tucked away, just in case. I am so glad I did, as my guide’s sister was at base camp preparing to summit to the peak of Mount Everest. We spent the afternoon in Base Camp 1 with her and her summit crew. I was able to leave a small gift of a dermaviduals Lip Balm and a week later it went all the way to the top with her!!
At altitude, the sun was fierce! So every morning, no matter how cloudy, on went my sunscreen. I carried this with me and reapplied as often as my guide. If the locals put on their jumper and beanie, you put on your jumper and beanie… same goes for sunscreen!
Of a night time, I used my dermaviduals Süssmoon Lotion N, a saviour to my lipid dry skin, followed by my bespoke dermaviduals, anti-oxidant rich serum, custom made by my team at SkintifiX and my dermaviduals Vitamin Cream Mask. I needed to replenish vitamins topically as best I could as each day was a free radical nightmare to my skin cells.
A girl might be in the wild but this girl hasn’t gone wild. Skincare still applies even in the most primitive places! When you haven’t seen a mirror or showered in days, a clean face can make you feel like a million dollars!”
Do you have any advice for those wanting to tick this off their bucket list?
“Don’t wait. Book the ticket today! I highly recommend the team at www.itreknepal.com. My trek was a private tour, but you could choose to be part of a larger group. I went with a girlfriend of mine and the care and attention to detail of Rick and his itrek team are phenomenal. I promise if you choose them you won’t regret it!”
Do you have any more trips planned?
“I’ve absolutely been bitten with the trekking bug so my next adventure will most likely be another mountain or something that involves hiking or cycling. I’m seriously considering Kokoda or Kilimanjaro… who’s in?!”