When Ashley Schmieder contacted wedding photographer Charleton Churchill to photograph her March nuptials to James Sissom, she didn’t have a location picked out yet. But they were thinking of somewhere tropical. So how did they end up trekking through the freezing, snow-covered mountains for three weeks to get married at the Mount Everest base camp? It turns out Churchill can be really convincing.
The photographer — known for taking pictures of weddings that are more extreme adventures than sit down affairs — had originally been asked to shoot an Everest wedding in 2015. However, due to the earthquake in Nepal, the event had to be cancelled. He’d always had a desire to go back and accomplish an Everest wedding though, and luckily, Schmieder and Sissom were more than game to attempt the difficult feat.
The trio spent a year training and preparing for the three week journey, and while they were all experienced climbers and in great shape, the trip was extremely difficult. Churchill fought through hiking with food poisoning for several days, and James experienced a cough that turned into a dangerous inability to catch his breath — which required the help of an oxygen tank. It was also really, really cold.
“According to our Sherpa guide, it dumped more snow on us than it had all winter,” Churchill wrote on his blog. “The temperatures ranged from -8 degrees to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from 14,000 ft. camp and above, so your hands would quickly freeze if left out of the gloves.” Now, imagine being in that weather with a wedding dress on.
Despite all of the setbacks, Ashley and James were allowed a very short one and a half hour ceremony at the base camp (due to James’ health, they couldn’t risk staying longer). James was able to get off oxygen just long enough to get married and take a few pictures before they were helicoptered back to a safer elevation early the next morning.
It was a trip and wedding of a lifetime, and the photos of the short event are stunning. Churchill was willing to share some of them with us, and you can check them out for yourself below!