What Happens When Both of You Want to Propose at Mt. Everest

A Brent&Jess fingerprint ring was the only match for this epic proposal

by Ailis Burns

Editor’s note: Brent&Jess are longtime APW sponsors who create handcrafted, personalized wedding, engagement, and memorial jewelry engraved with your loved one’s fingerprint or signature. Few things are as intimate as a fingerprint, and wearing the print of someone you love is just about as meaningful as jewelry gets. Today, instead of telling you why we think you should love Brent&Jess, we’re letting Ailis tell you about how she proposed to her boyfriend with a Brent&Jess ring—while they were hiking Mt. Everest.

This time last year, my boyfriend Owen and I decided we were going to trek Everest base camp. The idea for the trip was symbolic for us both as it marked the end of two long years of surgery and recovery in our families—for both Owen and my father, who is successfully battling cancer. Owen is a lifelong BMX rider, and he had a bad ankle injury in 2014. After this he decided to “hang up his bike” after nearly thirty years of riding every week. Since we were looking at six months of physiotherapy we thought, “What better motivation for two inexperienced hikers to get back on their feet than three weeks trekking in the Himalayas?” We were excited, scared, and really looking forward to new experiences, culture, and landscapes.

Having been together six years, it turned out we know each other pretty well—we both secretly realized that it would be hard to top a proposal at the base of the majestic Everest. Owen had no idea of what I was planning, but I did have an inkling he might be thinking of proposing, too. Although we are not very traditional people, I didn’t want to propose at base camp if he was planning to do it also, so after a quick check of our itinerary I realized that the day after we reached base camp we would ascend even further up the mountain to the Everest viewing point at Kala Pattar (5,600 meters/18,500 feet). We would only be there for twenty minutes due to the altitude, but it would be the highest point of our trip with spectacular views, and I decided that this would be where I would propose.

Once I had decided that I was taking the plunge, I started looking at rings. I wanted something meaningful but simple, and something that I felt reflected us and our relationship. I considered every option and as we both come from a design background I looked at everything from 3D printing my own design to a making a wooden ring. But once I stumbled upon Brent&Jess I kept coming back to their site, and I knew that this was the ring.

You can’t get more personal than wearing your partner’s fingerprintowens-ringI really appreciated that the rings from Brent&Jess are individually crafted and can be customized, which would still allow me to have some design input and personalize my ring. Brent and Jess were both very helpful providing all the information I needed and updating and reviewing quotes with me before I came to my final my selection. It was a very exciting time as I hadn’t told anyone my plans, and writing it down for the first time was super exciting. It was wild to think that these two people on the other side of the world were the only ones who knew my secret plans.

In the end, I chose a simple sterling silver ring for Owen with my fingerprint engraved on the inside. I also had Brent&Jess engrave a little sketch I drew. The drawing was an outline of Everest as seen from Kala Pattar, which is where I was going to propose. It was a very exciting moment when it arrived in the post a few weeks before our trip, and I secretly wore it a few times when Owen wasn’t around to make it seem more real.

on our waySo in September off we went to Nepal with our amazing operator Namaste Nomad—me with my ring cleverly hidden in my toiletries bag and wondering if Owen was planning the same. The trip, the people, and the scenery were all amazing—they were everything we had hoped for and more. But as we ascended higher and higher, I started feeling the effects of the altitude. On the morning before our last push to base camp I was feeling really terrible. About half an hour before we were due to leave, our usually very empathetic trek leader Mohan found me at the entrance to the tea house crying my eyes out. He gave me about thirty seconds of sympathy before he had me back on my feet and was encouraging me slowly up the mountain. Little did I know that he had secretly helped Owen with his proposal plans, so there was no way they were going to let me sit it out!

I very nearly didn’t reach base camp, and at one point Mohan was about to call the helicopter. But Owen and the amazing Sherpas encouraged me up the hills until we saw the flag-strewn stones just ahead of us. When I finally got there I was delighted but utterly exhausted, and as I sat down to take in the scenery I wondered if he had planned anything at all. After a few minutes I had caught my breath and Owen came over towards me to give me a hug. Then I saw him starting to get down on one knee and even though I half knew it was coming I burst into tears…again! He proposed using traditional Nepalese scarves and it was quite a circus, with a crowd of well wishers and Sherpas completely surrounding us. It was a very special moment and we felt literally on top of the world!

sometimes even the best plans changewoman proposing to her boyfriendAs I had had so much trouble with the altitude at base camp, I was told that I would not be going to Kala Pattar the next day as I needed to acclimatize. This was a problem for my perfectly planned proposal, but a nice lesson that sometimes even with all the planning in the world, things end up working out differently. I proposed in the corner of the freezing cold tea room at Gorak Shep. After our dinner I quietly asked a friend sitting opposite us to take a picture, and I got down on one knee at the table, took out my ring, and asked him to marry me. It was a really special moment as he wasn’t expecting it, and he was really touched. I was so glad that I had a ring to give him that was meaningful to us and to mark our adventure.

Once we were back home and the furor around the proposals had died down we discussed the type of ring I would like. I knew I didn’t want a diamond and as we both loved Owen’s ring so much it made sense for me to get one to match. It perfectly fit our needs because we felt that wearing your partner’s fingerprint is a lovely and simple way to mark your commitment to this other human being, and the little sketch of Everest would remind us of our first amazing adventure together, and and as time goes on we intend to add more little sketches on the inside to mark the adventures and milestones of our life together.

VISIT Brent&Jess for fingerprint wedding rings that are as personal and epic as your love story.

Ailis Burns

Ailis and Owen are designers based in leafy Wicklow, Ireland. They love riding bikes, making things, and gingery cats… Well Ailis likes the cats!

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  • sofar

    THIS IS SO COOL. Everest Base Camp has been on my bucket list for so long (as if there were any way I could hack it!). Such a sweet story.

  • Jess

    I love the detail of the mountain inside the band! So very cool.

    I cannot handle the awesomeness of a trekking mutual proposal, even with the altitude sickness (that stuff is No Joke!). I’m glad you got the chance to have such a memorable trip & make two bands that are lovely and unique!

  • Eilish Beirne

    Hi Sofar. If I can do it you can too. as my dad was sick I didn’t get to do much training at all. Drop Mohan at Namastenomad.ie a line. He was super! Although fitness helps altitude sickness is not based on how fit you are. It affects certain people and not others so if you want to do it then think you can and DO! :-)

    • sofar

      Hey, awesome! Filing this away. :)