Man And The Mountain: What It Takes To Conquer Mount Everest

Man And The Mountain: What It Takes To Conquer Mount Everest
The Himalayan range is a dream for climbers, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

How many can say they’ve stood at the top of the world? Well, this 50 year old can!

Aditya Gupta
June 18 , 2019
04 Min Read

How it all began…

During my college days at IIT Roorkee, I joined this mountaineering club named Himalayan Explorer Club and began to enjoy trekking. In 1987, I went to Pindari Glacier on my first expedition. In 1991, I even did a course in mountaineering and going on serious expeditions became a way of life. The final frontier of this hobby was to climb Mt Everest. Every mountaineer is charmed by Mt Everest and at some point we all have to believe that we can climb it. In 2008-09, during a Brahmaputra rafting expedition, my friends prodded me to try climbing Mt Everest and I thought ‘why not?’ (He had tried climbing Mt Everest in 2014 but due to an avalanche, had to abandon the plan)

The preparations…

There are tons of videos out there to give you an idea of what you are getting into. Climbing requires fitness, both mental and physical. You can’t train yourself mentally that much as it depends more on what kind of a person you have been all your life and how you have always reacted to situations. However, physically, you need to prepare your body. I trained for nine months, in which I increased my cardio capacity, strengthened my back and legs, and lost around 12kgs. I would run with a rucksack on my back and weights tied to my legs to condition my body to take the extra strain. I was working out about 15 hours a week without sidelining my professional commitments.    

At Ground Zero…

It’s easy to reach the base camp. The real deal starts after. There is a process called ‘rotations’ that include climbing, resting, and acclimatising. The whole journey takes about 30-40 days but the actual climbing happens only for about 15. Some days, you have to wait for the weather to clear up.

During the expedition

The challenges…

You first cross the Khumbu icefall considered to be the most dangerous part of the climb. You have to cross it in about nine hours and it has a lot of crevices. The terrain is very treacherous.  When climbing Mt Everest, one has to deal with high altitudes, little oxygen to breathe, and difficulty in eating and sleeping. It then becomes a question of endurance. The length of the expedition causes a lot of fatigue. Only your mental toughness can keep you going. Luckily, everyone in my group was determined to keep going till the very top.

Reaching the summit…

When I reached the summit, I felt a sense of gratitude. You feel a sense of relief having fulfilled a dream but at the same time, you are also restless because it’s just half the journey. It’s said that going is optional but coming back is mandatory and most tragedies happen on the way back. I made a small video of the view for my family and thanked them for their love. I am an avid photographer and so, I risked frostbite for a few seconds to quickly click some shots.  

The long line of climbers

The overcrowding issue…  

I am not in favour of overcrowding but there has to be a healthy number of climbers. Excess of anything is bad but when you have a decent number of climbers, you get better facilities and the path on the climb gets clearer. It’s extremely tough to walk on smooth ice. If there are footsteps, you get a better foothold. However, one needs to understand you can’t lower the number unless there is a government rule. There is only one Mt Everest in the world with thousands of people wanting to climb it.

The writer on top of the world

What next…

I do one adventure tour every year. All tours may not be extreme in nature but they are certainly out of the ordinary like climbing a dormant volcano in Ecuador and riding horses on Mongolian mountains. Adventure is my long-time love and I will do it till my body allows. I am collecting experiences. 

The writer is the owner of successful brands, including The Furniture Republic. He climbed Mt Everest recently, at the age of 50


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