Royal LePage Realtors arrive in Machu Picchu during a fundraising trek in 2015. This year, local realtor Rob Ohs (second from right) will be taking part in a second fundraising trip, this one to Iceland. — Submitted by Rob Ohs

From Machu Picchu to Iceland

Local realtor headed to volcanic highlands to fundraise for Haven House

Talk about going to the ends of the Earth.

Local realtor Rob Ohs is doing nearly that for the second time in support of women’s shelters.

In 2015, Ohs and a group of his Royal LePage colleagues took an eight-day, high-altitude trek to the once-lost city of Machu Picchu in Peru.

The hike was to raise funds for women’s shelters, including the Parksville Qualicum Haven House, through Royal LePage’s Shelter Foundation.

Through donations, the group of 70 people raised $500,000, with Ohs raising $7,500 of that himself, which went to Haven House.

The trip was well out of Ohs’ comfort zone, he said, having never really hiked before in his life.

He called the trip “incredible,” and “very hard.”

“We actually got to see how the locals were living up in the mountains with no power… in fairly harsh but beautiful conditions. But the challenge was altitude,” he said.

Reaching nearly 15,000 feet at the highest point in the hike, Ohs said, the group really started to feel the effects. “It was harder to move, harder to breath.”

But now, he’s signed up for another hike that will see him and his colleagues trek nearly 100 kilometres in seven days through Iceland’s volcanically active highlands with no comforts or outside communication, according to a Royal LePage Shelter Foundation news release.

While he said he’s excited to rejoin many of his colleagues who took part in the Peru hike, and get to see another part of the world that seems to be on everyone’s bucket list, he said his main motivation to take on this second hike is the cause.

“The fact that you knew you were doing a good thing and you were helping some people that really needed it, as corny as it sounds, it really did drive me,” said Ohs.

“Our local shelter… you talk to the people that work there and they are full. They are full every night, and there are people in some pretty tough situations that really rely on them, and so if you know you’re actually helping someone in your community change their life, or get them out of a dangerous situation, it’s pretty rewarding.”

Ohs has nearly raised his $8,500 goal for the trip, but is hoping to see donations continue to come in.

He said he’s very proud of the way the Shelter Foundation operates, as the operating costs of the charity are shouldered by Royal LePage realtors themselves, while all donations go directly to or are used to support shelters.

Eighty per cent of what Ohs raises will go to Haven House, while the rest will go to the foundation for its shelter support activities, he said.

To make a donation to Ohs’ upcoming hike, go to royallepage.myetap.org/fundraiser/iceland/ and search for Rob Ohs through the “Find a Team/Participant” tab.