Halfway across the world from his Texas home, Tim Long stood proudly at the base camp of Mt. Everest. The crystal-blue sky and snowcapped mountaintops provided the perfect backdrop as Long flashed a big smile with an orange-and-blue towel.
Earn History. World Series. Houston Astros, the towel read.
Two weeks after the Houston Astros capped their historic season with a World Series title and more than 8,000 miles from home, Long made his own personal history by completing the nine-day arduous journey to Everest base camp.
“It was a great trip, but it was exhausting,” Long said.
This late in the year, base camp serves as the highest point climbers can reach, but during climbing season it serves as the initial camp for climbers who are attempting the final ascent to the summit of Everest.
Long is an adventurer and an outdoorsman. His home overlooks Jones Bay on Tiki Island on the outskirts of Galveston. He and his wife, Susan, of 38 years have traveled to an African safari in Tanzania and on an Alaskan adventure cruise.
At 58 and retired, he’s active in Crossfit and stays in good shape. He’s hiked his share throughout the United States, including throughout Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas and Mt. Whitney in California, the highest summit in the U.S.
He’s been an Astros fan for more than 30 years. When it came time to pack for his trip, Long grabbed the orange-and-blue commemorative rally towel he picked up during the World Series and threw it in his suitcase.
To prepare himself for the Everest hike, Long focused on strengthening his legs—lunges, squats and step-ups—and walked upwards of 10 miles a couple of times a week. The only thing he couldn’t prepare for was the change in altitude.
“I went from sea level to 17,500 feet at base camp,” he said.
The oxygen level at base camp is about 50 percent less than at sea level, according to Alan Arnette, who climbed to the summit of Everest in 2011.
Long said the lack of oxygen and the cold, dry air affected his sinuses, which he’s still reeling the effects of today. The nine-day hike was worse for others in his seven-member group. Some came down with headaches and nausea, others suffered more serious effects like vomiting and diarrhea.
Near base camp, Long said he also struggled sleeping. When he’d doze off, he said, he’d startle awake because it felt as if he wasn’t breathing. As if the altitude and lack of oxygen weren’t enough, he was eating a diet of mainly vegetables, rice, eggs and pasta.
His first dinner when he neared the end of the journey: a bacon cheeseburger with fries and an apple pie.
He admits that the trek to Everest base camp was never on his bucket list, but he’s happy to have made it. He’ll never forget the breathtaking views—the sunrises and sunsets over the massive mountains—and the Nepalese people, who he said were among the nicest people he’s ever met.
“It’s certainly one of the most memorable places I’ve been—ever,” he said.