The Everest challenge was everything and more than my original expectations. Heading back up the Khumbu Valley after 40 years (December 1969) and especially arriving in Namche Bazaar, was a moving moment for me. That original experience of trekking to Everest Base Camp alone 40 years ago and having a dream, even if it was in a distant recess of my mind, to go back and climb this great mountain some day, was a fulfilling and huge life experience. It made me realize that I am exactly the same guy now as I was then, needing adventure, needing challenges, living life with passion. I had no idea if I would make it, but I knew that nothing, at least under my control, would stop me from giving it my best shot. There are some things in life you just have to do.

The climb itself was unique. The time duration was long. Everest Base Camp is a small international community that is a ‘one of a kind’ in the world. I think there is no other comparison to any other sport or adventure that resembles those 2 months every year so many diverse people assemble with one purpose to test themselves and risk everything on this Himalayan icon of mountaineering. The friendship one develops spending literally day and night together with a small group who depend on each other for support and safety. The absolute decisiveness and clarity of mind one must have to hang in there and succeed. The significant cost involved that one is prepared to spend just to have a ‘go’ at it.

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Climbing Everest is physically tough. You get up often at 2am when it is the coldest and climb all night when the ice is more solid, so there is less chance of avalanche. Day after day, you climb higher to acclimatize, and then after a week descend back to base camp for several days of rest to solidify your physiological gains. You do this week after week.

Everest demands that you manage fear. Climbing up through the treacherous Khumbu Ice Fall; crossing ladders over deep crevasses with your crampons on; getting blasted by 100km an hour winds on the steep, rock-hard icy slopes of Lhotse; being holed up for 30 hours in our tents precipitously carved into the Lhotse Face and feeling like any moment we would get blown off the mountain; finding bodies melting out of the glacier ice.  Summit day you are on your own in the death zone and there is no room for error. No one can help you. It is just you, the mountain, and your life.

Everest demands your psychological tenacity. You must be stubborn; you must hold fast; you must know why you are there. You must see what you don’t want to see, but be able to remove it from mind’s eye. You must focus on one thing or you will die. Your world is exactly one step at a time.