Andrea Tucker is quick to admit trekking to Mt Everest's Base Camp is tough.
The well known Rotary Club of Milton-Ulladulla member and local real estate agent recently returned from this world famous trek.
"It was probably the most gruelling experience of my life," she said.
She did the trek not only as a personal challenge but it was also to help an organisation called Seven Women, which supports Nepalese women and children.
Andrea wanted to find a sustainable cause to support and when she looked into the Seven Women she found the perfect charity.
Andrea, her husband Rod and work colleague Jo Jones were part of a group of 11 real estate agents and other professionals from around Australia who did the trek.
Andrea said it was a physically challenging trip.
The distance they walked each day while carrying a backpack, was the not challenge, but it was the high altitude that was particularly taxing.
Andrea said her fellow trekkers produced incredible efforts in such a tough environment
The group, just before getting to their famous destination, climbed Kala Patthar a peak higher than Base Camp and Andrea said she found this trek to be particularly satisfying.
"It was gruelling - really hard work. Every five or 10 steps you would have to stop and catch your breath. Take another 10 steps - stop and get your heart rate down," she said.
Only half of the group made it up Kala Patthar.
"To me climbing this peak was more exhilarating that reaching Base Camp and I could see Mt Everest from there," she said
They then descended the peak and walked across to Base Camp.
"It was not a let down to get to Base Camp but compared to climbing Kala Patthar it was not as physically demanding," she said
Supporting Seven Women
Seven Women is based in Kathmandu and the whole team of 12 went and visited the women.
The group's office headquarters is based in Kathmandu and they help women and children all over the county.
They did have a refuge at the Kathmandu base and offer shelter, food and a safe place for women in need.
Some of the women are escaping arranged marriage situations.
"One woman Anita did not want that (an arranged marriage) and she ran away from home, jumped on a bus and did not even know where she was going because she was not educated about what was outside of her village," Andrea said.
"Anita did not know what existed out there and she was lucky a lady took her in and she is now running the Seven Women program.
"It (Seven Women) is all about education and education is powerful and that is what they do for these women - they educate them.
"Some of these women did not even know how to count money and did not know if they were being ripped off at the markets.
"They teach them literacy and give them skills so they can go and get a job and become independent."
Without the program life would be grim for these women.
"Many of the women have had some kind of disfiguration - perhaps they were born with a disfigurement or they have been burnt or have an ailment," Andrea said.
"They are kind of damaged goods in terms of finding a husband and being supported."
Andrea's group has raised over $5000 to help the Seven Women program.
"This amount of money will go a long way over there," she said.
She said $250 would send a child to school, including clothes and food, for 12 months.
Andrea is looking to put in an application, via Rotary, to get a grant to donate to Seven Women.
She may not go back to Base Camp but will always support Seven Women.
Andrea said she would always have a place in her heart for the organisation.
Life lessons were part of the journey
Andrea made notes as she went along to remind her of the emotions she was feeling at the time.
A few key points stick with her which she will use in life and 'preparation is key' was the first thing on her list.
"We did the preparation we did the hard work and we did the training. So this meant for me it was an enjoyable experience," she said.
"For some others who had not put the prep in it was a difficult time. Even though they made it I don't think they enjoyed it as much as we did."
She also learned what can be achieved when you put your mind to something.
One day she looked at a peak and felt tired and daunted.
"I remember I looked up and thought 'I don't know if I can do this today'," she recalled.
However, she took time to think about the situation and decided it was literally about just about taking one step at a time.
What you see
The scenery is beautiful and she has many photos to prove this and said the vegetation changes the higher you trek.
"You go through lots of green to start with and the further you got up there it became dense with no trees," she said.
"It was almost like being in space - there was just rocks and snow. There was no foliage - may be a bit of moss on the ground and that was it - nothing grew up there."