Continuing their recent successful endeavour Trek4Tsunami which has raised more than Dh10,000 in charity already, members of the Mountain High team are all set to go on their next adventure. Today, they fly out to Nepal for a 16-day trek up and across the world’s largest Alpine pass, ...

By Mubashra Siddiqui

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Published: Thu 14 Apr 2005, 1:36 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:58 PM

the ‘Thorung La.’ At 5,416 metres, it is the highpoint of the classic Annapurna circuit.

"We will be trekking an average of 5-6 hours a day and gradually gain altitude over a period of 12 days," said Julie Amer, founder of Mountain High, an adventure lifestyle consultant firm. She added, "Crossing the pass will certainly be the toughest part of the trek — after which it’s all downhill as we drop into the Kali Gandaki gorge before heading into Pokhara, where we will enjoy a couple of days and nights rest before heading back to Kathmandu and then Dubai."

Amer, who is a British Sports Science graduate, has an irrepressible energy and passion for even the most difficult of sports and outdoor activities. To mark her 40th birthday in 2002, she climbed her first mountain — Mount Kinabalu which at 4095 metres is the highest mountain in South East Asia. "It seemed a natural progression to go from the confines of the gym, squash courts and aerobics studio to a bigger adventure playground of mountains, ocean, jungles and deserts," said Amer.

The same year, she also went on a "River Deep’ adventure leading a small mixed team to take part in a Dragon Boat race in Borneo. The first team from the UAE to take part in the event, they managed to achieve a respectable fifth position in the tourism category over a distance of 1500 metres.

A health fanatic, Amer’s birthday coincidentally falls on April 7 — World Health Day. "I would love to become a goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation, using the trips and activities I run as a way to spread the message of health and well-being to a wider audience on a more grass roots human level," she enthused.

In 2003, which Amer says was a milestone year, she teamed up with Jannike Moe, another adventurer zealot from Dubai Duty Free. Meeting for coffee in the summer of 2002, they talked about setting up a trip of a lifetime for women. What resulted was the memorable Everest Women’s Challenge in April 2003 — which saw Amer and Moe leading the first all female multi-national team to the Everest base camp at 5,370 metres, just twenty-four hours after they had lead the team to create a UAE point at 5,500 meters. The cause supported by this adventure trip was breast cancer and over Dh200,000 in funds were raised for the purchase of a mobile breast screening unit.

Soon after, Amer and Moe started putting ideas together for their 2004 Challenge - The 3B Jordan Challenge. Held under the patronage of Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, it focused on raising as much awareness as possible for what is known as the silent killer disease – osteoporosis. The ‘Bones in Motion’ team comprised twenty-four women of mixed nationalities ranging in age from 29 – 69 involved in a variety of outdoor activities such as rock climbing, abseiling, trekking, biking, kayaking, horse-back riding, and so on.

2005 is another year which has already had a great start for members of Mountain High. On the first "Trek4Tsunami" walk which took place on April 1 at The Palm, Amer commented, "When we saw what had happened in Asia, we decided a local walk to involve the community followed by an overseas trek in Nepal was the ideal way to raise some funds for the re-construction project in Sri Lanka."

She added, "All the funds that have been raised will be channelled through the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment. Once the project is decided upon based on what is needed most, we will keep an eye on the work and look at running some trekking trips to Sri Lanka that will include some time at the project base."

For their current Annapurna trek, the team includes 15 people. For the first time, two men will also be participating in the event. The entire team will stay in touch with Dubai via a series of live links from Amer’s Thuraya Satellite phone to Dubai Eye – 103.8 FM.

Of the primary ideals behind Mountain High, Amer said, "The ethos and philosophy of Mountain High is based on my goal to encourage, inspire and motivate as many people as possible to take charge of one of the most precious gifts we have – our health and wellbeing – by being more active in the great outdoors and taking time out with nature. Taking people out of their comfort zone and going ‘beyond the norm’ into one’s learning and personal development zone is an important aspect of my work and one which allows clients to discover abilities – physical and mental – they may never have been aware of had they not taken up the challenge."

Indeed, a balanced holistic approach to life is the backbone of Amer’s work with a strong focus on activities that both clear and develop the mind, energise the body, and nurture the spirit of adventure often while supporting worthy causes.

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