World’s ‘most dangerous airport’ and yaks await Mississauga couple as they head to Mount Everest


Published September 15, 2023 at 2:57 pm

Base camp at Mount Everest, where countless climbers gather every year prior to their attempts to scale the world's tallest mountain. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The “experience of a lifetime” for an adventurous Mississauga couple starts on Sunday when Suneet and Gaurav Gill set off on their journey to Mount Everest.

Though they won’t be climbing the world’s tallest mountain, their trip to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, known as one of the harshest environments on the planet, is in itself fraught with some uncertainties and dangers.

But the bottom line for the Gills is that they’re doing it for a cause close to their hearts — to raise money for leukemia research. The trip is being made under the online banner Scaling Heights for Leukemia.

In an earlier story posted to, the Gills, who say they’ve always shared a love of exploration and a commitment to making a positive impact, noted their ambitious journey to the other side of the world to fight cancer also stems from a personal connection.

Having witnessed the impact of the disease on individuals and families firsthand, they say they’re determined to make a difference by raising both donations and awareness for the cause in hopes of creating some positive outcomes for patients.

Speaking of positive outcomes, the Mississauga couple is banking on one of those as they arrive at their destination in the coming days.

Upon their arrival in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, the Gills will then set off for Lukla Airport, also known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport and the “most dangerous airport in the world.”

It’s the last point before the couple’s trek to Everest Base Camp, which they’ll complete without using a guide/escort, begins.

In an email this week to, Suneet said that small airport “is infamous for its tricky landing strip. It’s the most dangerous airport in the world. It’s nestled in the mountains and has a short runway, making it challenging for pilots. It is a bit nerve-wracking, but we are hoping for the best and trying not to think about it so much.”

Suneet added another potential uncertainty — one that travels on four legs — looms once their trek to the base camp begins.

“Oh, and yaks!” she said. “They’re cute, but they can be a little unpredictable, so we will give them space on the trail.”
With such a physically and mentally demanding trip ahead of them, Suneet and Gaurav have been training both their minds and bodies for months.
More recently, “…we’ve been hitting the gym to build up our leg and core strength. Squats, lunges and a whole lot of cardio are our best friends right now,” Suneet said.
“We’re also doing some hiking on local trails to get used to the terrain. We have also been doing load simulation (carrying 10-15-kilogram weights in backpacks) on (an) incline, since we’ll be carrying 10kg weights every day for 14 days.”
Still, being as prepared as possible doesn’t always mean no troubles will be encountered, the couple noted.
“The trek to Everest Base Camp is no cakewalk. Altitude sickness is a real concern, so acclimatization is crucial. We are going to take it slow, listen to our body and stay hydrated,” Suneet said.
Risks aside, the couple is excited for the “experience of a lifetime” to begin.

“We can’t wait to take in the breathtaking scenery,” Suneet said.

Suneet and Gaurav Gill, of Mississauga. (Photo: Instagram channel)

While the summit of Mount Everest is the highest point on Earth at 29,031 feet, the iconic mountain’s base camp is no easy feat to reach, either.

It sits at an altitude of 17,598 feet above sea level, a height to which the human body takes time to adapt, or acclimatize.

By comparison, the highest point in Canada is the summit of the Yukon’s Mount Logan, at 19,551 feet.

So, it’s not a simple task to make a successful trek to Everest Base Camp, say the couple, who’ve been doing some of their training at Meadowvale Conservation Area near their home in the city’s north end.

But it’s an effort well worth it, Suneet and Gaurav add, noting they’re happy to support “the vital work of the Canadian Cancer Society.”

“We firmly believe in the power of collective action and the difference it can make in combatting leukemia. By venturing to the Everest Base Camp, we hope to channel the spirit of determination and resilience that defines the fight against cancer,” the couple said. “We invite local businesses, community leaders and adventure enthusiasts to join forces with us, supporting this crucial cause and leaving a lasting impact on the lives of leukemia patients and their loved ones.”

In addition, beyond contributing to causes they believe are important, the couple say they also relish the opportunity to challenge their own limits and inspire others to embrace adventure as well.

The Gills will document their entire journey to Mount Everest Base Camp, sharing what they hope will be “captivating visuals and compelling stories” on their Instagram channel.

To date, they have raised $911 on the way to their goal of $1,000.

(Image: BBC)

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