July 8, 2006
Trek of lifetimeCurler Officer takes on Everest
By JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun
Now that she has been to Everest and back, Jill Officer will be ready to brush rocks with a renewed vigour this season.
Officer, the second for Manitoba's former Canadian women's curling champ Jennifer Jones, recently returned from a trip to Nepal, where she trekked to the Mount Everest Base Camp with her older brother, Rob, and his girlfriend.
"It was great," Officer said from Brandon yesterday. "We only spent a couple of hours at the base camp but the British team summitted while we were there and the part of the team left at the base camp were all cheering and that. It was exciting."
Officer, who had never trekked before, made the 21-day hike to the camp, which is about 19,000 feet above sea level.
"It definitely was not easy," she said. "It was physically very demanding and you really had to push yourself. At first, I thought, 'What did I get myself into?' But after a couple of days, I got used to it. And the scenery was second to none. I took about a (gigabyte) and a half of pictures."
Because you cannot see the summit from the base camp, the trio also trekked to Mount Kala Pattar, which is a little higher, and they could not only see the summit but a breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas -- the world's highest mountains.
All three trekkers dropped a few pounds while seeking their own shangri-la.
"I lost 8-10 pounds," Officer said. "But, um, the food in Thailand is really good, so I got most of it back."
Officer travelled to Thailand after her mountain trek.
The threesome had hired a Sherpa guide for the Everest ascent and ate nothing but fried food -- like fried noodles and fried rice -- during the trek. So, the food in Thailand was most welcomed. A Buddhist, the guide warned them to always keep prayer wheels, walls and stones to their right when passing so as not to insult the locals. As they trekked higher, showering became impossible and, because there were no trees, fires were made from dried yak dung.
"Surprising enough, it doesn't smell," said Officer, who admitted to experiencing some culture shock, particularly in the poorer Nepal where garbage was left in the streets and the traffic "was completely insane."
But even being in such foreign lands, the subject of curling still came up.
"People would ask me what I do and it was a good conversation topic because most of them knew nothing about it," Officer said. "Our Sherpa guide had no clue so, I showed him all about it on the web."
Officer had spent months preparing for the trip, working with her personal trainer and hiking up and down the bridges of Brandon.
"It's pretty special that I was able to experience all of that," she said.
But would she do it again?
"Honestly, probably not," Officer replied. "It was really hard. It was a challenge of a lifetime, both physically and mentally. But I have no regrets."
And it has given her a new perspective.
"I've always been really proud to be a Canadian," she said. "We're really, really fortunate to live where we do. It's a beautiful country."