Weber State Outdoor Program conquers Everest base camp during spring trip

OGDEN, Utah — Cameron Dunn checked a major item off his travel bucket list this spring. 

Dunn was one of 16 Weber State University students, faculty and community partners who participated in a three-week service-learning trip to Nepal this April, culminating with a hike to Mount Everest’s base camp at an elevation of 17,598 feet. 

“The lessons you learn, connections you make and experiences you will have traveling to places like Nepal with a group from the university are things that you simply can't put a price tag on,” Dunn said. 

Coordinated by the Weber State Outdoor Program, the trip to Nepal was years in the making. Initial preparation began in 2019, when the Outdoor Program reached out to WSU alum Vallerie Littleton, president of the Apa Sherpa Foundation, about coordinating an adventure trip to Nepal. 

The Apa Sherpa Foundation supports education in Nepal, Weber State students, faculty and community partners smile for a group picture while holding a purple Weber State flag at Mount Everest's base camp. providing funding for teacher salaries, student tuition and other necessities. 

“Apa Sherpa believes that education is the tool to children having a choice about their futures,” said Hayley Prine, Outdoor Program coordinator. 

In 2023, Prine helped scout the trek the group would take so she’d be familiar with the area. Monthly pre-trip meetings to discuss equipment, medical considerations and Nepalese culture prepared the team before they left the United States. 

Dunn, a WSU senior majoring in emergency medicine, trained by backcountry skiing and hiking with his dog for several hours a day in the months leading to departure. Once in Nepal, Dunn realized the trek would be much harder than he thought, but also discovered new levels of physical endurance on the way. 

“Pushing myself to complete long days of hiking at the altitudes that we experienced was hard,” he said. “There were some days that I just wanted to stop and take a nap or give up, especially when I got sick, but pushing forward and completing the day in a reasonable time was greatly satisfying.”

His favorite part of the trip came at the end of the day, when he could sit outside, read a book or journal while reflecting on that day’s journey.

“After that, a small group of us would spend some time outside the lodge every evening. We would chat, watch the sunset and enjoy the stars,” Dunn said.

The trip lasted from April 18 to May 10, with the group spending a few days sightseeing in Kathmandu before the 16-day trek through the Khumbu region on their way to Everest base camp. On their way, they stopped by schools and monasteries supported by the Apa Sherpa Foundation to volunteer and learn more about the region. At Apa Sherpa’s home village of Thame, they painted a classroom and moved rocks and material for a future building project.

The entire team made it to base camp on May 2, unfurling a purple Weber State flag for a group picture. 

“A huge highlight of the trip was seeing students experience the culture and practices of Nepal and knowing that they were taking in new ideas and respecting people and practices that are unfamiliar to them,” Prine said. “I hope students are excited to join future trips.”

WSU’s Outdoor Program offers adventure trips for students and community members throughout the year. To learn more, visit the program’s website.


Jessica Kokesh, Marketing & Communications 


Bryan Magaña, public relations director