Louis-Philippe Loncke is a kickass adventurer you might have seen covered on kickasstrips before.
Locke – among other things – has trekked solo across the length of Australia’s Simpson Desert and in 2013 he became the first person to kayak the entire perimeter of lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.
He is however also known for his mouthwatering Chocolate Sherpa expedition in Nepal.
The Chocolate Sherpa Expedition
In the spring of 2009 Louis-Philippe Loncke embarked on an expedition to raise awareness and money for a mobile hospital in Nepal. To do this they came up with a delicious expedition where they would trek to Everest basecamp while distributing Belgian Chocolates. The main event would be to organise the world’s highest Chocolate tasting at 5350 m. – among international mountaineers and Sherpas – while Everest basecamp was reached.
For this noble goal they had to carry quite a lot of chocolate. 300kg of real Belgium chocolate to be exact! 200kg were to be distributed along the 400km route leading up to basecamp and 100kg was reserved for the highest belgian chocolate tasting in the world.
A Mobile Hospital
After eight years spent to work as a consultant for the Nepal Orthopaedic Hospital (Kathmandu) and training young Nepali surgeons, a Belgian surgeon friend of Locke came up with the idea to start a much needed mobile hospital.
Such facility would be easily mounted, quickly dismounted and transported by truck or chopper and allow the doctors to reach far remote places of Nepal.
Locke, a dedicated mountaineer, could easily identify with this need for remote care and he quickly came up with the Chocolate Sherpa expedition in order to raise money and awareness for this mobile hospital.
The Trek: Katmandu to Everest Base camp
A team consisting of Louis-Philippe Loncke, Norbert Eggermont and Joseph de Mahieu (all Belgians) started trekking from Katmandu to Everest Base camp in April 2009.
Most people take the plane to Lukla and hike only the last part to Everest Base Camp. Loncke and his team wanted to do the old trek, the way it was done before Lukla got its easy plane access. Like thirty years before the chocolate sherpas wanted to cover the entire way overland in order to meet the local families.
None of the expedition members had been to Nepal before the Chocolate Sherpa expedition.
The team had setup an eleborate chocolate distribution scheme.
Norbert and Louis-Philippe left the capital carrying 25 kilograms of chocolate and were then joined in Jiri by Joseph. He would carry and extra 35 kilos as a resupply for the second leg of the journey.
However, when Norbert fell ill on the second day Loncke was forced to keep on going by himself carrying the heavy chocolate. For five days he hiked and handed out chocolate to amazed locals.
Time and time again Loncke had to explain why a tourist like him would not take the bus to Jiri and preferred walking instead. Giving them some Chocolate and explaining the goal of setting up a mobile hospital lead to many interesting conversations. Locals invited him in their houses and that’s where Loncke spend most of his nights.
Along the way from Kathmandu to Jiri Loncke used a sort of wheelbarrow which made it easier to transport the heavy chocolate.
In Jiri Loncke was joined by the other members of the team. Together they continued the trek to EBC.
In the end only Louis-Philippe and Joseph arrived at Everest Base Camp – after walking for 20 days from Kathmandu. Norbert had altitude sickness and had to turn back two hours from Base Camp. Luckily the remaining 100kg of chocolate made it safely to Base Camp as well!
The World’s Highest Chocolate Tasting
The reception at the EBC was a unique experience. The team could meet the biggest climbers in the world, including Apa Sherpa (19 times Everest record) and a NASA astronaut.
The big Everest basecamp chocolate tasting event finally happened on the 3rd and 4th of May. The team had carefully protected the last 100kg of Belgian Chocolate from eager hands since the beginning of their trip. And now they served the climbes and sherpas of basecamp well. Spirits were high and the chocolate tasted well on the high altitude of 5350m.