Endorsements

School charity project to Nepal

Dear Susie and Kalsang,
I have been meaning to contact you since our son returned from Nepal just to
say a thank you to you both for supporting him on this expedition. He
returned with a new maturity and has told us a lot about his trip which has
been wonderful. We are very much looking forward to the evening at Chailey
school.

Thank you.

Louise and Elliot's Expedition in Nepal

Just to say a BIG THANK YOU to you and Kalsang especially (not sure of the spelling) and the team who looked after Elliot while on the expedition in Nepal. He had an amazing time and the pictures he took are breath taking. The only thing he didn't like were the leaches!! He now knows that he can go anywhere and do anything. He's not scared of going to university now and cooking and looking after himself.

We all wish you all the very best with your future expeditions and continue to show the western world that Nepal is a very beautiful and magical place on earth.

Kindest regards Louise and Elliot

Quote from Maria's DofE trip to Nepal

Just to say a big thank you for all the effort that has gone into the trip, DofE Gold to Nepal. My son has come home very happy from the whole expedition. I must say at first, I was very apprehensive allowing him to go to Nepal, but your ability to provide all the information to help us with our little problems at a moment's notice, put my worries to rest and in the end I wasn't afraid, because I knew that I left my son with incredibly professional and lovely people.

Thank you. Kind regards, Maria

Quote from Everest Base Camp

At the out set may I thank you for your kind attention and help through out the trek and patience to meet our needs. I must say how much I enjoyed the trek and the immense magnitude of the whole experience has given me a different dimension of life experience having met so many different people from all over the world with one common aim of being in Himalayas which I will never forget.

Best wishes and regards Chin. Dr Chin Raju

Quote from Lara's DofE trip to Nepal

Lara returned looking healthy and well and having had an amazing time in Nepal. She said the trek was challenging but felt that she had prepared well for it and had found it manageable. She loved the white water rafting. My husband and I want to thank you and Kalsang so much for organising such a great trip for them all. I expect we'll be hearing about it for quite some time to come.

With kind regards Diane

Quote from Bevan trip to ImjaTse

Many thanks to you and the Walking and Climbing Company for organising our recent visit to Nepal. All went exceptionally smoothly and Palden our Sherpa guide was outstanding. Totally reliable, his in depth knowledge of the Khumbu and many contacts there, made our trip enjoyable from beginning to end. We met up with many of our old friends from Xtreme-Everest 2007 and made new ones. Unfortunately poor conditions on Island Peak meant that we had to abandon our bid for the summit half way up the final ice wall despite the expert skills of our 2 climbing Sherpas. Rhys says the mountain has changed a lot since he climbed it in 2007 and turning back, although a little frustrating, was the right decision. Crossing the Cho La pass in bright sunshine a couple of days later and then arriving at Gokyo in a blizzard was in itself an adventure and partially made up for the disappointment on Imja Tse. Great memories, great trip.

Thanks again.

Very best wishes Colin and Rhys Bevan (May 2013)

Quote from Maggie Clarkson

Susie and Kalsang Sherpa Baer made the impossible possible for me! I've never had the confidence to do a trek in the Himalayas because of various limitations to my physical abilities and the solution was to do the trek to the beautiful Gosain Kunda Lakes in the Langtang Region of Nepal on Horseback!! What an amazing experience I've shared and the care and attention to the details so that I succeeded in my goal excelled all my expectations -the support in my preparation beforehand and then the encouragement whilst there was kind, informative and professional. Any one who dreams of doing a trek and lacks the confidence to give it a go, should use The Walking and Climbing Company. With heartfelt thanks for a life affirming experience,

Maggie Clarkson (April 2013)

Quote from D of E Gold Expedition Nepal

We first worked with The Walking and Climbing Company in 2007 in planning our D of E Gold Expedition in Nepal. The company under the stewardship of Susie Sherpa Baer were remarkably approachable and always willing to help.

The preparation for the trip was first class as at all times the communication was easy and no problem too small. Each time we phoned we would speak to Susie who was the organiser and so she would immediately know the answer or would make it her job to find out.

The trip itself was led by Kalsang Sherpa who is Nepalese and has a very impressive climbing cv in the Himalayas. He has organised climbing expeditions and so he is acutely aware of the needs of groups. Whilst Kalsang has an amazing climbing experience he is not a risk taker and at all times in his company and that of the other Sherpa we always felt that our safety was their top concern. The organisation in country was astonishing. Great food appeared seemingly by a miracle. Tents were provided, breakages were mended, bags carried if there were any difficulties. In our group there were more employees than students! Every person in the employ of The Walking and Climbing Company were polite and incredibly helpful.

On an expedition in a place like Nepal things will change from the original plan that is almost inevitable. However at no point on this first trip did we feel anything than complete confidence in Kalsang and his team. We also knew that with Susie back in the UK that she would move heaven and earth to solve any problem.

We also used the Company in 2011 on an expedition in Tibet. Once again the planning and preparation was excellent despite the Chinese closing the border two months before we were due to go Susie, Kalsang and their contacts in Tibet still managed to get their backup plan organised and the expedition went off like clockwork.

As the Walking and Climbing Company specialise in Nepal and Tibet and because Kalsang is Nepalese the students have had the most amazing trips but actually what they experience is so much more. The relationship that Kalsang and his staff develop with the students is fantastic to see. The barriers dividing the cultures is broken down more quickly and all of our students have loved mixing with the cooks, the porters, the Sherpas or the horsemen. It has enriched their lives and made them appreciate how lucky they are and also how hard other people's lives are. The expeditions were amazing and very good value but no price can be put on the experience of being in remote areas with the indigenous people.

The Walking and Climbing Company organises big expeditions with the personal touch. Safety is always the priority and in our experience they provide beautifully organised trips. We have no difficulty in recommending the company as we are again in talks about organising our next trip!

Mark Stevens

Quote from Sir Chris Bonington regarding the Sherpas

"We had a superb and very strong Sherpa force and because the climbers and Sherpas became welded Into a closely knit team who worked happily, and therefore effectively, together. It was this that made the expedition such a success, not just in terms of making records, but also in terms of personal satisfaction for every member of the team. I have been on expeditions that have reached their summit and yet there has been little sense of success because the group has failed to work together and there was acrimony rather than friendship at the end of the experience. Unless you always go alone, the essence of climbing Is team work."

The Everest Years: A climbers life, With thanks to Sir Chris Bonington for his permission.

Quote from Island Peak

"Dear Susie,

Re: Island Peak and Everest Base Camp I am writing to express my sincere thanks to your company for the excellent trip above. Having recently returned from Nepal my mother (aged 67) and I are still buzzing with excitement and hope very much to return to the Himalaya.

If I can realise the dream of returning rest assured I will be making only one phone call – to The Walking and Climbing Company and I have no hesitation in recommending you to any other potential clients.

In choosing your company in the first place I placed considerable importance to you as a UK based organisation with a Nepali born Sherpa as a Director/Owner. In addition it was clear in early dealings with you that the ethos of your firm is to provide a true personal and tailored service.

The attention to detail of Kalsang Sherpa combined with his immense local contacts and knowledge proved invaluable in ensuring that we achieved our goals of summiting Island Peak, Kalapathar and visiting Everest Base Camp.

In addition his infectious personality and deep desire for us to all succeed safely cannot be under estimated.

I am certain that with such a superb client focus your company will continue to grow in strength and wish you both every success for the future.

Yours sincerely"

Mark Waring

Quote from Mera Peak

"Susie

I am sure we will talk very soon but I just wanted to pass on my gratitude and heartfelt thank you for a fabulous time

I knew I would enjoy the trek and also find some incredible challenges and totally underestimated what that would all look like. It has only begun to hit home all that I achieved after reviewing all the pictures we have taken and all of the experiences and memories are already becoming very special, the hard work as well as the wonderful times.

Thank you to you and Kalsang as well as the rest of the team, for making the trek possible. I have known you for over ten years (both of you) and I still did not expect the level of organisation and support we were lucky enough to have to get us through. It is difficult to remember them all but the team were amazing in their roles and it was a privilege to spend time with them all. I know there is a business behind all this, but I just feel I have come away from the trek, spending 3 weeks with very very good friends. Seeing Kalsang and Nuru in their land was amazing and meeting Ang Tsering, Purba, Kanncha, I did not really feel like a client at all.

I know Kalsang felt keenly that I did not summit but that is a lesson for me for the next time and in no way down to anything the team did or did not do. I have already spoken at length to Chris and others, as well as reflected since my return and I know I will be back with you for another trek or climb and I know in the meantime, what I need to do to improve chances of success next time.

Thank you for introducing me to a wonderful country.

Love to you both

Regards"

Andy Pettman

Quote from Chris Bartram

"It was only when we were on the trek itself that I realised just how much there must be involved in putting together and event like this. Once more, my deep thanks for all your work and for keeping me on target to do the trek. It has been one of the great experiences of my life and has left me with many great memories and images. Our Sherpa guides looked after us completely, as you told us they would, ensuring that we had everything we needed and that we had a great time. Kalsang organised everything superbly from our arrival to our departure. Nuru was and excellent sirdar throughout and couldn't do enough for us. The other Sherpas that travelled with us throughout the two week trek were wonderful people and again, the level of support they offered was amazing. The mountains were stunning and we were blessed with incredible weather throughout. The trek itself was incredibly challenging at times and through those challenges I have learned a lot of valuable things about myself. It has all had a deep effect on me and I have spent much of the time since I got back thinking about the experiences and reflecting what I have learned"

Chris Bartram

Quote from UCL ,Institute of Child Health, Portex Unit: Respiratory Medicine & Physiology

Having recently returned from an expedition to Nepal that was organised by the Walking and Climbing Company, I am delighted to be able to provide a reference for the way in which this company dealt with the numerous complexities encountered when organising both a family trek as well as one that involved a lot of scientific testing on a day-to-day basis (see http://youngeverest.smiths.com).

Trip Organisation

In all our dealings with the company we found that both Susie and Kalsang Sherpa-Baer provided rapid feedback to any queries and were extremely flexible when it came to the arrangements. We were provided with an information pack outlining the various options available together with expertise required to undertake each of these, which was backed up by telephone calls and personal visits. We were advised with respect to the best travel agents with whom to organise flights, and details regarding insurance and visas were also dealt with in a satisfactory manner. Schedules were organised and subsequently reorganised according to changing requirements on the scientific side, and despite the complex nature of the trek all aspects of the organisation seemed to flow well both in the UK and during our time in Nepal. A slightly more detailed 'equipment and clothing' list might be helpful for future treks.

Customer Care

We were made to feel special and our needs recognised and respected by the company at al times. Every effort was made to ensure that we enjoyed the trek and that safety of both adults and children was paramount at all times. There was an intrinsic feeling that everything was being done to care for the customer and to anticipate our needs. This included adjusting and amending the itinerary according to individual requirements while we were actually in Nepal. Follow-up letters were written at the end of the trek to request feedback and we were all very satisfied with the level of customer care.

Value of the experience for adults and young people

I think there is little doubt that all of us who undertook this trek found it to be a life-changing experience. Travelling to Nepal, living in close quarters with fairly basic accommodation, trekking up the mountains, and getting to know the local people all proved to be a very inspiring and humbling experience. I think that the children gained enormously from exposure to a completely different culture where materialistic goods are of far less importance than in the UK, and that they began to see that happiness and contentment were not dependant on easy access to electronic toys, designer clothes or luxurious bathroom facilities! This also helped them to appreciate living conditions in the UK on their return. I think they also gained a great deal from contributing to the scientific research that was undertaken during the trek and knowing that they were helping children less fortunate than themselves. There is no doubt that parts of the trek proved to be physically challenging, both for the children and the adults, particularly at the higher altitudes or during the longer climbs, but this helped in turn built up strong bonds within the group. Indeed, the experience of being in the Himalayas, being surrounded by some of the world's highest summits and receiving the incredible hospitality and friendship from the Sherpas and Nepalise people is one that will live on in all of our memories forever.

Experience and quality of staff

Throughout this trek we were well looked after both by members of the company and the Sherpas and porters whom they employed. Despite the limited English of some of the local people, communication was excellent and there was always a ready smile and an underlying cheerfulness behind all the tasks that had to be achieved in each day. All of the staff went out their way to help us and make our lives easier, including carrying the day packs for some of the younger children (or indeed the children themselves) when they got too tired.

Care of clients in the mountains,

in particular dealing with young people The greatest challenge of taking a group of young people into the mountains, particularly those under the age of ten, was their exuberance and lack of appreciation of the potential day-to-day dangers. Sherpas were allocated personally to the youngest children and helped to keep them safe during the trek. There was an awareness at all times of the dangers of mountain sickness and any symptoms reported and dealt with. This included the need to allow for additional rests for some of the group. Flexibility with respect to the food that was provided ensured adequate calorie intake even when the children occasionally rebelled against the local diet of porridge, rice and noodles, and the importance of adequate hydration was emphasised.

Health and safety

Given the medical nature of the scientific trek, as a group we undertook strict health and safety issues ourselves as was necessary to concur with risk assessment and reduction related to ethical approval of the study, for example. all children had to be accompanied by at least one adult at all times. This was however supplemented by advice and support provided by the company. As with any trek of this nature it is essential that personal responsibility is taken for health, and we were advised regarding necessary medications such as antibiotics, rehydration tablets, anti-diarrhoea and painkillers that would be useful during such a trip. When travelling with this particular group of children (some as young as 6 years of age) we found it extremely useful that our group included a qualified paediatrician to deal with day-to-day issues. Depending on the nature of any youth expedition that was to be organised. it would probably be essential for someone who was fully trained in first aid and with specific paediatric experience to accompany such a trek. One of the greatest potential difficulties is the lack of understanding by teenagers about the possible risks of mountain sickness and an unwillingness to admit to signs of headache and nausea in their desire to achieve set objectives such as reaching Base Camp. It is therefore essential that anybody participating in such a trek keeps a wary eye on all the children and learns to discriminate from the mild headaches that may be related to sleep disturbances, from those of a more sinister nature. In addition to the physical challenges and increased likelihood of falls when walking on rough surfaces, the greatest challenges that we experienced were related to ensuring sufficient sunscreen was administered at all times to prevent sunburn even on cool days, ensuring adequate fluid intake to avoid dehydration, and ensuring the strictest standards of personal hygiene, particularly given the lack of running water and general low level of sanitation in many of the areas we visited. Alcohol hand gel proved to be invaluable on many occasions, as well as firm advice from the trek leader regarding what foodstuffs should be avoided (ie. uncooked, salads, excess protein at high altitude) and so forth. Boiled water was provided on a daily basis to minimize the risks of gastro-intestinal infections.

Itinerary planning and flexibility

As mentioned above, the company proved to be extremely flexible with respect to planning the itinerary and we were informed before leaving that whether or not a certain itinerary would be followed would very much depend on the reaction of the individual to the altitude and conditions during the actual trek. This necessitated certain adjustments during the expedition, and sherpas and staff were reallocated to different groups in order to meet individual demands and requirements including the need to accompany some members back down the mountain as a result of mild altitude sickness.

Cost

Whilst not being the cheapest quotes with respect to treks such as these, the Walking and Climbing Company did ensure that there were plenty of sherpas and porters available to meet the increased responsibilities of including young people in the expedition. Costs for treks such as these vary enormously depending on the type of accommodation and level of staffing. Overall we were satisfied that we received value for money.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Janet Stocks PhD Professor of Respiratory Physiology,

Great Ormond Street hospital

Kate, Tom, Alice and Katrina Ever since it was formed, the Walking and Climbing Company has been helping people to fulfil their personal ambitions of trekking and climbing in the majestic Himalayan mountain range. Now our reputation for exceptional client care has been recognised by one of the leading medical experts in the country and features in a recent article in The Times.

The company has been helping Monty Mythen, Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care at University College, London to push back the frontiers of medical science. Monty’s pursuit of life saving treatment for critically sick children led him to take the unusual and groundbreaking step of testing the effects of altitude on his own children in the Himalayas and he chose the Walking and Climbing Company to manage the whole trip.

"I just wanted to say a quick thank you for arranging the most amazing trip for us. It was such a beautiful place and it seemed like the best time of year to enjoy it. The trek to Namche was lovely (and the blossom was out on the trees on our way back down) and onwards from Tengboche was very hard, but the views and the mountains made it all worthwhile! Please pass on our thanks to Kelsang. He looked after us all so well and Tim and I stayed healthy the whole trip which I'm sure was thanks to the slow ascent you designed for us, the places we stayed and ate at, and the advice from Kelsang and the Sherpas."

Emma Scrase
Senior Respiratory Physiologist
Great Ormand Street Hospital

Known as the Smiths Medical Young Everest Study, the research involved taking a group of youngsters and medical experts on an expedition to Namche Bazaar, high up in the Himalayan Everest region, where the Professor had set up a medical laboratory.

Testing the effects of altitude on the children took place throughout the expedition which was organised by Kalsang Sherpa, Director of the company and leader of the logistics team of Sherpas and porters who supported the group. If you’d like to find out more about the Study and see photographs of the expedition go here:


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