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Trio of local teens nervous, excited for Mount Everest adventure

'If I can push through this and climb through the Himalayas … then anything else will be easy after this,' says local teen
Claire Coleshill, 14, Sophie Firanski, 18, and Elias Coleshill, 16, will join their parents to hike to the base camp of Mount Everest later this month. | Nikki Cole/BarrieToday

Three Barrie teens will be taking an adventure of a lifetime on a trek to Nepal to hike to the base camp of Mount Everest.

Elias and Claire Coleshill, along with their mother, Deb Bobechko, will join Sophie and Bernard Firanski later this month to hike 165 kilometres over the course of about 12 days to Mount Everest Base Camp, a journey that will see them reach an elevation of 17,586 feet.

The two families are scheduled to leave Toronto on March 28 and fly to London, England, where they plan to spend three days in an effort to adjust to the more than 10-hour time change they will experience between Canada and Nepal.

On April 1, they will continue on to Doha, Qatar, and then to Kathmandu, Nepal, at which point they will take a three-hour bus ride to the next airport before flying to Lukla in northeastern Nepal on April 3.

“We are a more active and adventurous family. Our mom did Mount Kilimanjaro a few years ago and the Camino (trail in Spain),” said Elias, 16.

Eighteen-year-old Sophie, who is studying biology at York University, said her dad approached her with the idea about 18 months ago, adding she had no idea what the hike entailed.

“I initially thought there’s the mountain and we were walking up in a spiral to the base camp. I didn’t really understand that we were hiking through the Himalayas. I wasn’t really much of an outdoorsy person, so, initially, I didn’t know if I’d go, but then, when I started researching it more and answering my own questions — because I like to know what I am getting into whenever I go someplace new — then I realized this was really cool and I had to go do this,” she said.

Bobechko said she was invited on the hike by friends she’d met in Spain a few years ago, and said as a single parent, she thought it would be a great opportunity for her kids to experience something most people can only dream of.

“Our youth tend to get captured in a life or a lifestyle and not see other options. I feel if we can plant a seed in them now to what’s out there in the world and what opportunities there are … that can change how they see and plan their lives moving forward,” she said.

As for the Firanskis, Bernard said it didn’t take him long to accept the invitation.

“This has been on my bucket list as well. It just so happens that she said (she) was going to Everest, and did I want to go? I said, “‘Yeah,’” he recalled.

To prepare for the trip, all three have been doing a lot of hiking, they said, as well as spending time at their local gym.

Claire, 14, said she’s not exactly looking forward to the cold, while Sophie’s big concern is suffering altitude sickness, something they are unable to prepare for living in Ontario.

“I don’t want to be sick going on this trip because I don’t want it to ruin the whole thing. Then there’s also (the thought) of what if I step on a rock wrong and my ankle gets twisted and I have to be sent back down …  but the benefits outweigh the risks 100-fold, so I am not too worried,” said Sophie.

As for what they’re most excited for, their responses were all the same: “It’s Everest.”

Going on this hike with his mother, said Elias, is going to be exciting.

For Sophie and her dad, this will be one more adventure they are looking forward to checking off their to-do list together.

“Sophie and I have done more than one trip of a lifetime. We did a tour of the United States for the Great American Eclipse in 2017, which was an extraordinary event. For us, adventure is part and parcel of our relationship,” he said.

The teens know they will face some daunting physical and mental challenges on the trek, but they hope to be able to return home with a better sense of confidence for situations they will encounter as they grow up.

“If I can push through this and climb through the Himalayas … then anything else will be easy after this,” said Sophie.

“We are hiking a lot each day, so it takes a lot of mental fortitude. If I can do that, then I guess I can get up every morning and (not complain),” added Elias.

Claire is hoping she can return home with more confidence in herself and her abilities.

The teens are using their 11-day, 165-km adventure to try to raise money to create a youth-centric Out of the Cold space within Youth Haven’s new shelter, the construction of which is set to begin in the summer.

One way to raise money, they pointed out, has been through an online auction hosted by Elias’s boss at the Red Barn Event Centre. Money raised through the auction will be donated to the downtown Barrie youth shelter.

“We are going on this hike anyways, so we may as well try to use it to spark some donations into doing something good for Youth Haven. If there are homeless kids now and we don’t help them, then when they grow up, nothing is going to happen or change. They will (become) adults (who are) homeless. Hopefully, by stopping homelessness as it starts, then that will result in no homeless adults, which is all the better,” said Sophie.

The auction, which started March 5, includes more than $2,000 in donated items. Even though the online auction is slated to close Sunday, the teens plan on continuing their fundraising efforts in support of the local shelter. Anyone interested in donating can do so here.