Escapades on Everest

Posted on January 28, 2011

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I first met the famed mountaineer Dan Mazur last year in Kathmandu. We met at the fabulous KTM Guest House and shared a beer; I found him to be nothing short of inspirational, warm and committed.

So when Simon, founder and owner of Arabia Outdoors here in Dubai told me he and Dan were friends and Dan would soon be coming over to Dubai to give a talk, I was delighted.

And indeed delighted I was last night, as I listened to Dan’s incredible story-telling of his exciting escapades on Everest coupled with incredible photography and details of the humbling and life-changing support he gives the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development.

He shared a great deal, leaving much to mull over, but three things stuck with me and these things I want to share today.

1) Dan talked about the ethics on Everest. In 2006, that fateful year when the season was plagued with tragedy, Dan and two others were a mere two hours from the summit, two hours from the top of the world, after weeks of climbing high, sleeping low, weeks of dedication and commitment to reaching their penultimate goal and weeks, in fact no – far longer – in preparation beforehand.

But on finding Lincoln Hall, an Aussie who on his descent down had the fight of his life and was left for dead, Dan sacrificed all to save him. Whilst others passed by, unprepared to forgo fulfilling their own goals, Dan saved his life and in doing so, put his own at great risk. It is a poignant story of human kindness.

Tori’s take:

Has the Everest community of old turned into a circus? Is mountain morality eroding with the commercialisation of Everest? Or is this just a reflection of society full-stop? How many of us after all pull over when a car has broken down on the side of the road?

2) Dan talked about how a random visit to a gear shop in KTM resulted in his joining a Soviet expedition and weeks later, found himself standing on the rooftop of the world. With him was Roman Giutashvalli, the first Soviet Georgian and the second oldest climber ever. Roman and Dan had been paired, by Anton,  their expedition leader, to make their summit push together as they were deemed to have a minimal chance of success. Roman was slow but showed unquenchable spirit.

On the descent however he collapsed and what followed was an incredible story involving possibly the world’s most poignant question re whether you put another’s life ahead of yours, someone who you hardly know, someone who may have only a small chance of survival anyway. The story concluded on a happy note and Roman survived to tell the tale.

Only after this did Dan learn that Roman had suffered as a young child from tuberculosis and as a result, had just one lung!

Tori’s take:

I plan to think of Roman often as an illustration of the power of courage. To scale Everest at his age, under such circumstances … and with one lung? Remarkable. Truly remarkable.

3) Dan talked about his amazing work as an ambassador for the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development. A short video brought home the reality of Nepal. Beyond the travellers trekking routes, the fun hippie vibe in Thamel and the glorious peaks on the climbers circuit, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and so much more has to be done just to achieve basic rights for such incredible people, rights such as basic healthcare and education to avoid children in their tens of thousands resorting to the Kathmandu slums every year.

Tori’s take:

It is for this reason that I support Children of the Mountain, another incredible charity, founded here in Dubai by John Matthews, to build schools in a remote region in Tandrang and ensure ‘no child is left behind.’

I think anyone who gets up close to the reality of Nepal, can’t help but get involved in some way so please, when time permits, check out these two causes and help in any way you can.

If ever you have the opportunity to listen to Dangerous Dan sharing his tales of adventure, go … regardless of whether you have a passion for altitude or a love for mountains. He has a joie de vivre, an enthusiasm for life and living and a compassion towards others that shouldn’t be limited to high above the cloud line; it should be appreciated and allowed to let leak into all areas of our lives.

Compassion, like smiling, is contagious; the only disease worth spreading!

PS. Thanks to Simon at Arabia Outdoors for putting on such a great show.

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