Goal achieved: The crew at Everest Base Camp, 5364 metres above sea level. Picture: SuppliedSteve Crowe knew he was in trouble when he couldn’t catch up with mates who were barely 10 metres in front of him.
It was duringthe final hour of a trek on Mount Everest thatthe 1997 Newcastle Knights premiership playerfelt the effects of altitude sickness kick in, as he and the 27others in hisgroup –which includedKnights legends Paul Harragon, Matthew Johns, Danny Buderus, Kurt Gidley and Mark Hughes –walked from Base Camp to their accommodation.
The evening ended with Crowe and two others being choppered to Kathmandu Hospital.Six members of the group, who were raising money for the Mark Hughes Foundation’s fight against brain cancer, were struck by altitude sickness.
But despite experiencing“critically low”oxygen levels, Crowe said the difficulties were an important part of the journey.
Speaking to theHeraldon Monday, he compared the experienceto the Knights’1997 campaign.
“It’s a long, long process to win a premiership,” he said.
“You go through all the travails, the difficulties and the challenges of a season. Eventually you win the last game of the year and it’s a massive celebration.
Home safe: Former Knights Danny Buderus, Kurt Gidley, Steve Crowe and Mark Hughes at Dixon Park Beach on Monday. Picture: Supplied
“It’s a celebration because of how tough it was and how long and arduous it was.”
Crowe said dizziness, a headache and a feeling of “real lethargy” overcame him during the final hour of the trek.
He could see a couple of his old mates little more than 10 metres in front of him and thought that, if he could close the gap,their talk would motivate him through the final stretch.
“I spent an hour trying to catch them –I couldn’t catch them,” he said.
“I was just staring at my feet, one foot after the other. My oxygen levels were critically low.
“When we got back to camp I just couldn’t get off the bed. I was rooming with Johnsy [Matthew Johns] and thankfully he came to check on me and I hadn’t moved.
“I never felt in any real danger but that’s not the feeling of the other boys –they were watching four or five of us go down. There were people vomiting and those blokes who were more conscious than I [was] said they felt really uneasy.”
Hughes said on Mondayhewas“really grateful that we took 28 blokes over there and 28 returned”.
On the road to Everest Base Camp. Picture: Supplied
“Once you’re up 500 metres above sea level or more, breathing is not as easy as it normally is.Walking 10 metres is not as easy as it normally is, sleeping is not as easy, eating is not as easy,” he said.
“Everything is very uncomfortable and hard– it was a great challenge.”
Hughes said the altitude sickness affected Crowe worse than anyone else in the group.
“I was going from room to room, checking, helping–I was in a real pickle,” he said.
“Seeing your great mates laying on lounges on oxygen tanks, it’s a bit scary–not something I want to see again. It was the real deal.”
On his Triple M Sydney breakfast radio show on Monday, Johns described the altitude as“like someone sitting on your chest”.
The former five-eighth said he left Crowe to rest in their room the day they reached Base Campand returned about 30 minutes later to take him to dinner with the group.
“When he came into the tea house, everyone knew he was in trouble,” he said.
“No sooner had he got there, then he hit the ground again.
“They laid him in the corner and he went to sleep and they put oxygen on him. Things got really heavy there.”
‘Great challenge’: Former Newcastle teammates Danny Buderus and Mark Hughes during the trek. Picture: Supplied
‘Huge’ fundraising result for Everest trekIt may have pushed them to their limits, butthegroup led by former Newcastle Knights players whoclimbed to Mount Everest Base Camp has raised $450,000 for the fight against brain cancer.
And they are appealing for more donations from the community to help them reach their $500,000 goal.
Mark Hughes, Paul Harragon, Matthew Johns, Steve Crowe, Kurt Gidley and Danny Buderus were among the former Knights to take-on the mountain earlier this month to raise money for the Mark Hughes Foundation.
Despite the expedition pushing the group of 28 to the edge–with six suffering altitude sickness and three spending the night in Kathmandu Hospital–Hughes and the crew have returned to Australia in good spirits.
The 1997 premiership winner, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013, said the money was a“huge” result.
He said the funds would go toresearch, the brain cancer care nurse programat John Hunter Hospital and establishing a conference to share theinitiative’s strategy with other health facilities.
“We are looking at setting up a conference with other people in similar roles around Australia because we believe we’re doing it the best and really doing it well,” Hughes told the Herald on Monday.
“We’re hoping to hold a conference and really improveand helpthe structure of the brain cancer care nurse [initiative]because that’s something we can do for people and patients right here, right now.
“[Everest]is a tough mountain to climb but people with brain cancer and their families have much tougher hills to climb.”
Hughes said donations were still welcome.
Visit梧桐夜网markhughesfoundation南京夜网419论坛or The Mark Hughes Foundation Facebook page to donate.
Foundation pays tribute to former Nine NRL bossMark Hughes took to the Mark Hughes Foundation’s Facebook page on Monday to paytribute to Matt Callander, the former Channel Nine NRL bosswho lost his battle with brain cancer on Sunday night, aged 46.
Hughes said Callander, a close mate, was one of the driving forces behind the NRL’s wildly successful Beanie Round last year.
“Matt and his family took on this whilst Matt was in the middle of his own huge fight against brain cancer,” he wrote.
“Matt, Anne and their family are the most inspiring family I have had the pleasureof meeting. We have lost an amazing bloke! But Matt and the Callander family will forever be a big part of MHF now and in the future.
“I’m totally gutted! Flat as a tack! But I am inspired to work harder than ever to find answers to this disease and make next year’s Beanie for Brain Cancer campaign the biggest and best yet.
“I know that’s what Matt would [have]wanted. I promise to make you proud mate! RIP.”