Dreams are essential to a fulfilling life, however in order to survive any personal adventure or professional endeavour one has to hang on firmly to the reality without clinging to a personal comfort zone.
A recent death of an Australian woman on Everest has been a tragic reminder of importance and seriousness of preparation for any adventure. Everest is an extreme challenge due to altitude having detrimental effects on human physiology.
Acclimatization up to 8000m is achievable to majority of the aspirants, however the challenge comes above 8000m. Climbers find themselves in ‘Death Zone’ where the pressure differential between inner cell and outside environment approaches 0, and the body system loses integrity with cellular fluid leaking out of soft tissue of the brain and lungs, causing lethal inflammation.
Preparation, experience, confidence and determination in order to embark on an extreme adventure are crucial. Embarking on 7 world’s highest summits on each continent requires money, physical strength and an element of arrogance. All these have to be balanced with the determination to reach the summit. Often the main driver is the money, which combined with fear of failure leads to risky decisions. With the brain under enormous stress of AMS most of adventurers make the decision to proceed to the summit against the odds. It is easy to forget that the real climber is the one, who can tell the story.
Underfunded adventure also leads people to wrong choices of service providers. There is a good sense to select reputable western provider. Western operations are run by experienced mountaineers understanding what is required and how to communicate with the climbers under stress. It is true that most of hard physical work is done by Sherpas, who have strength to carry loads and are genetically predisposed to acclimatization beyond abilities of western climber. They have experience of trudging Everest trail to the summit and many have summited multiple times. The fact however is, that growing up in remote village without access to education, effects communication and expedition management. Currently Sherpas’ experience is limited due to lack of opportunities, which are available to western climbers.
Nepalese companies can certainly compete on the price with western operators by eliminating safety and communication management layer offered by western operators, who also take first choice experienced staff with the resources generated by higher fees. In order to generate customers Nepalese outfitters offer, by economic necessity and lack of resources, more ‘freedom’ and are less ‘regimented’ on the mountain so the feeling is more of an ‘independent’ climb. This is an attractive illusion to many climbers and a very risky approach often leading to inability to summit or death. There is certainly room for Nepalese companies to provide basic service for experienced climbers looking primarily for a challenge. Unfortunately they attract unaware and inexperienced clients, incompetent to manage high altitude mountaineering and taking huge risks without adequate backup.
Everest climb is a huge lesson to any climber and any professional with any ambitions. To succeed in any challenging endeavour fitness, preparation, determination, and personal ability to network and collaborate are paramount. Any endeavour has to have long-term goals to succeed and learn a lesson to continue the life adventure. Not reaching a goal should be ‘experience learned’ rather than a sign of ‘personal failure’. The hallmark of champion is to reach beyond personal comfort zone without fear of failure.
“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, writer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training – is the creator of IMA (Infinite Mountain Adventure), an inspirational company helping professional working in an office environment to improve life quality and experience a motivational Himalayan adventure.