Formidable fighters for burn survivors off to Everest Base Camp

REMY Kloos pictured at the Mount Lhotse summit in Asia.

REMY Kloos pictured at the Mount Lhotse summit in Asia.

Published May 5, 2024

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Cape Town - Avid adventurer and mountaineer Remy Kloos is at it again, this time leading a group of trekkers to Everest Base Camp to raise funds and awareness for children with burn injuries.

In February, Kloos completed a seven-year quest to climb the tallest peak on every continent – and she’s off yet again. This time, the Capetonian is joining the Avela Foundation for their second trek in six years to Everest Base Camp (EBC) to raise funds for, and awareness of, children with serious burn injuries.

Cami Palomo, Avela Foundation founder, said having Kloos not only join but lead their second EBC expedition would add tremendous value.

“Kloos is one of the best of the best. And apart from her super mountaineering skills, we’ll benefit from her incredible spirit and attitude towards life.”

For Palomo, Avela has become her life’s work. The foundation, founded in Cape Town in 2016, has raised substantial funds for medical equipment and treatment. Her Umatter programme is. however, very close to her heart.

“Through this, we not only provide physical support to children with serious burn injuries, but try to heal the emotional trauma these children and their families experience. It’s for this reason we need to expand the programme to include more hospitals and training – something that cannot be done without funds.”

According to statistics, more than 1.6 million South Africans sustain serious burn injuries annually. Of them, at least 350 000 are children.

Palomo says undertaking mountaineering expeditions is quite the challenge, as it airlifts you out of your comfort zone.

“It’s for that reason that we believe it’s a great way of honouring the courage, determination and resilience of young burn survivors.”

On May 10, Palomo and Kloos will be joined by a group of five business people, including one American, who all have in the past strapped on their hiking boots to help raise funds for Avela on donations crowdfunding platform BackaBuddy.

Kloos, having reached her seventh and final summit in February – Mount Kosciuszko in Australia – is excited to be part of the group.

“The Avela Foundation is doing such incredible work, empowering and supporting children who survive serious burn injuries. Palomo and her team help transform their lives by assisting them in dealing with their physical and emotional scars. I’m so touched by the work the foundation does and am honoured to play a small role in helping.”

Kloos herself is no stranger to the darker side of life. Battling serious depression and anxiety in 2016 and in desperate need of perspective, she turned to the mountains for “help”.

“I was standing on Mount Kilimanjaro, the Roof of Africa, fuelled with an electric surge of energy. In that moment I knew I had found meaning through a deep and soulful connection with the mountain, and with every climb thereafter my confidence just grew and I knew I could make an impact!”

Six years later, Kloos became the first person from Africa to do the EverestLhoste combination-climb in 24 hours, and achieving that also made her the first woman from the continent to summit Lhotse peak in Asia. She does, however, not only leave her mark in the history books – Kloos is, not surprisingly, also in demand as a mountain guide and motivational speaker.

Remy Kloos

Palomo shares Kloos’s love and reverence for mountains and is tremendously excited to share in the world-class climber’s experiences during their upcoming trek.

“Having Kloos as part of the Avela trek to EBC and hearing her stories will enrich our journey and ignite an even deeper appreciation for the spiritual essence of the Himalayas and the transformative power of mountains.”

“Yes,” says Kloos, “the mountains teach us about our own mortality. They show us how fragile we are and provide perspective insofar as our daily frustrations are actually quite menial, all things considered.”

And Kloos knows only too well what risks high-altitude mountaineering poses.

“I have experienced minus 40ºC carrying 50kg loads, have had frostbite numerous times, battled against 130km/h winds, not to mention cyclones where a single misstep could be fatal. I have been on many, an exposed ridgeline and in extreme altitudes where no living organism is meant to survive for extended periods.

“Movements are extremely slow and it requires immense energy just to try to eat and drink. Every decision is extremely calculated, there is no room for error. One simple mistake like dropping a glove could have dire repercussions.”

Although the Avela team won’t be summiting Everest, Kloos says she goes into every climb with the same mental and physical preparation and attitude.

“One must have a deep respect for the mountains and the surrounding lands and people, for we are simply very lucky to be able to be there. This is their home and the invitation to explore, climb and trek is one that must be received and executed with kindness and humility.”

She echoes Palomo’s hope that the trek will raise more awareness about the work that the Avela Foundation does and that this fund-raising campaign will bring in much-needed donations to support their work.

“As a team, I know we can collectively make a difference and I want everyone on the trek to experience the magic of the grand Himalaya and be fuelled by her beauty and wisdom.

“I want them to be touched by the stories of the Nepalese people and to feel their warmth. With each step on such ancient lands, I hope the group will experience something magical and return home with a newfound sense of gratitude and humility.

“So, we will not only be exploring together. but hopefully raise muchneeded funds for a charity that is changing the lives of so many people.”

And Kloos’s trademark sunflower will again be peeking out of her rucksack: “Where I go, the sunflower goes, as for me it’s a gentle reminder of grace in our lives, representing our humanity and highlighting the importance of gratitude and positivity.

“You know, at the end of the day, the summit is for the ego, but the journey – the journey is for the soul.”

Support the Avela Foundation by making a donation on BackaBuddy: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/campaign/ebc-2024-for-the-avela-foundation.

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health welfare