If you follow me on twitter, you may have been confused by a series of tweets of mine last night. Well, I went to go listen to a guest speaker. I’m really not one for this type of thing, but Greg was busy with work, I had nothing to do, my friends were going and I live a 30 second walk from the venue. So I went really for the social vibe and to kill some time.
But I’m really glad I went. Nadav Ben Yehuda, and Israeli climber was the night’s speaker. His story is more than about his ascent to Everest. This guy, 300m from the top, found a dying man and decided to turn around and try save his life. Instead of going all the way to the summit. Did I mention that this guy is 23? Yep. That’s the same age as me.
He started with an intro video, showing a montage of the various mountains he has climbed and shots of Everest. I turned to my friend and whispered “Who does that?!”. He proceeded to tell us about the training, preparation, gear and money alone that go into these expeditions. Which last 3 months. Try thinking 6 tents and $150 000 (though he managed to get by with $60 000. Still no mean feat. Oh, and being a student – of course he was sponsored). Before he started his Everest expedition, he actually climbed a series of other mountains, just to acclimatize himself to the air/oxygen at those altitudes.
What you don’t realise, is that you can’t actually climb straight up a mountain of those heights. You climb up, set up camp for a while, and actually climb back down again – all in order to go back up. It’s all to acclimatise yourself. Which is kind of hectic. He said your body isn’t meant to survive at those altitudes, hence the need for extra oxygen.
He showed us pictures of their base camps – which is a place they set up along the mountain and actually live at for a couple days at a time. Kitchen, showers, bathrooms. It was like their home, he said.
People often don’t come back from these expeditions alive. You can’t really picture it. Going on a hike and not coming home. But people die up there. The cold, avalanches, crevices of snow, going too slowly, falling – many of these circumstances are out of your control entirely. Nadav explained how he would just walk over dead bodies, and showed a video montage as well. It was frightening.
Let’s skip to the big part of the story: 300m from the summit, Nadav encounter a 3rd dead body of that day. He recognised the clothes of a Turkish man he had heated political debates with down on base-camp. He thought the man was dead, and suddenly he moved. Nadav wasn’t sure whether to go to the summit and fetch him on the way down (which would take him another 4 hrs just to get up), or take him down then and there. There was no way the man would survive if he went to the summit. So he took this man down. 300m from the top of Everest, this 23 year old saved the life of another man. Everest is usually a mission that’s all about you, it’s survival of the fittest.
When asked, he said he had no regrets that he didn’t make it to the summit. It’s really something inspiring. He also said he doesn’t know if he’d make the trip again, only maybe if he were leading the first Israeli expedition. Below are my tweets from last night, which just show some extra tidbits from the night.
Kinda puts your life into perspective, no?