CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia National Guard Sgt. 1st Class David Casteel began the journey of a life time on Nov. 18 – trekking the base camps around Mount Everest, Nepal, the world’s highest mountain.
Casteel, a 13-year veteran of the WVNG, works full-time at the Parachute Maintenance Facility at Camp Dawson, West Virginia in Kingwood and has been hoping to achieve his life-long dream of visiting Mt. Everest since the early 1980s.
He began his trek today and will finish Dec. 9, 2017 after more than two weeks of hiking in treacherous conditions at altitudes in excess of 15,000 feet.
In relation to local landmarks and elevation points, the altitudes Casteel will be facing far surpass anything in the area or even the United States. The highest point in West Virginia is 4,863 feet at the summit of Spruce Knob and Mount Whitney, in the Sierra Mountains of California, rises 14,494 feet above sea level and is the highest point in the continental United States. The base camp of Mount Everest sits at an elevation of 17,598 feet.
In order to prepare for his excursion, Casteel began training in July by mountain biking at least 10-12 miles every day. In mid-July, he also started hiking with a 30-pound pack, alternating from hiking up and down steep inclines to hiking on the rail trail. In August, he increased his workouts, some days wearing an elevation training mask and hiking nine miles every other day while also working out in the gym to strengthen certain muscle sets.
To get to Mount Everest’s base camp Casteel, and his group will trek for nine days embarking on altitudes of 18,192 feet at their highest hiking point, climbing Kala Pattar. After departing base camp, they will descend back down to various locations before returning to their origination point in Kathmandu, Nepal.
“I know for me, standing at the doorstep of the top of the world is a once in a lifetime experience, and I want to be able to capture that, even if just a little, and share that with my family, friends and coworkers when I get home,” Casteel said.
The WVNG will be following Casteel’s journey and posting photos and videos on the organization’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
West Virginia National Guard Facebook - www.facebook.com/WV.
NationalGuard West Virginia National Guard Instagram - www.instagram.com/ wvnationalguard