Lim Pisal is one of a handful of Cambodians to reach the South Base Camp of Mount Everest in Nepal, fulfilling his brother’s dreams, who died during an attempt to plant the national flag there 10 years ago.
Pisal, 42, a Siem Reap resident and construction company manager, said he took the Cambodian flag to the camp on October 9, which is at an altitude of 5,364 meters, and planted it there after an arduous nine-day trek.
Everest’s other camp is the North Base Camp in Tibet, China at 5,150 meters. Everest is Earth's highest mountain, with an elevation of 8,848.86 meters above sea level.
Four days into his trip to the base camp in 2012, Pisal’s younger brother, Lim Piseth, looked weak and pale and was transported back to the foot of the mountain. During the trip, he died on October 19 at 11.30pm.
Piseth, an NGO worker, was cremated at a pagoda in Nepal on October 24 and his remains were returned to Cambodia to be reunited with his family two days later. He was 28-years-old.
Pisal said he felt excited but emotional at his achievement. “I thought of my brother, I felt pity for him,” Pisal told Kiripost.
After years of training, especially years of long distance running, Pisal said he was able to accomplish this. He also brought his brother’s remains back to Kathmandu to be kept at a Buddhist pagoda there.
“The goal is to fulfill the dream of my brother who wanted to bring the Cambodian national flag here, but he was unable to do it. This is the biggest goal I wanted to do, but what I learnt from this is mindfulness,” Pisal said.
He added Cambodian youth who want to make it happen need to exercise, especially running. If they can run a long distance of 21 kilometers up, they can try conquering Everest, because climbing up a mountain is exhausting.
“It is very hard to catch your breath, people need to have good lungs,” he said, adding that on the mountain, oxygen levels are only 50 percent. “Sometimes, we had a headache. We drank hot water and garlic soup so that we have full energy, if we lose energy, we may get sick.”
People should train up to a year of long distance running, 21 kilometers for two hours or 40 kilometers for five hours, then, they can attempt the mountain, Pisal said.
Pisal said that the nine days to the base camp formed part of his overall 17-day trek, which started on October 1.
“The experience we had is peaceful, mindfulness. We felt calm, we felt that life doesn't need to show off,” he said.
“If Vladimir Putin spent time here trekking for a few weeks, when he returned, he would stop the war. He would change the way he thinks if he came here.”
Pisal, Managing Director of Cam Empire Construction Co., Ltd, is from Siem Reap’s Puok district and is married to Ou Labin, who works at the National Bank of Cambodia. The couple have three children, aged 11, seven and three.
Vong Socheata is another adventurer who reached the Everest Base Camp (EBC) in 2018. Socheata said she conducted research about the camp before embarking on her journey, which took 13 days, including eight days trekking up and five days trekking down.
“During my adventure, I experienced a great sense of fulfillment and calm. I deeply love nature, especially mountains, so EBC was the best place to enjoy [this]. I spent a lot of time looking at those mountains,” Socheata told Kiripost.
“I didn’t focus too much on the final destination but more on enjoying the journey because nature gave me spiritual comfort each day.”
Socheata said she will return to the Himalayas in the future to once again experience the majestic mountains.
“The EBC adventure was beyond my physical limit. I owe its success to the mental and spiritual strength and my profound love of the mountains,” she said.
Socheata added that she has also claimed the highest mountain in Cambodia and other areas, including Virachey National Park and Central Cardamom Mountains.
Before EBC, Socheata trekked to Shivapuri National Park and Champa Devi Hill, the second and the third highest mountains in Kathmandu Valley. “That helped me with high elevation,” she said.