Carry on up Everest
I was 55 when I first climbed Mount Everest, subsequently, the following 2 times I’ve climbed it, I feel isn’t worth sharing as I had used oxygen.
6 months before my first trip I had been in a wine bar with an old pal of mine Woody Allen, the New York film Director and comedian.
He had asked me why I had never thought about mountain climbing.
I felt at the time that it was a strange suggestion as he knew that fitness and I were not close companions.
But he brushed off my relevant concerns with,
“Mark, you can do anything you put your mind to!”
After the third glass of Pinot Grigio I couldn’t argue, so later that afternoon I booked a flight to Nepal, from the Pakistani Travel Agent, Mohammed and Sons, around the corner from our rented house.
I didn’t tell my wife because she would have been opposed to my trip, due to financial constraints and a greater all-round sense of reality.
So three weeks later with just a ruck-sack and a nervous smile, I boarded the flight to Katmandu from Leeds Airport; who knew you could go that far, without a stopover from Leeds, but heyho, it’s my story.
The flight took 14 hours, and as I’m terrified of flying I made sure I was heavily sedated, I read 3 Richard Dawkins’ books, although occasionally I would burst out laughing loud enough to cause the plane to tremble from a nervous reaction from the pilot due to my intermittent guffaws.
Katmandu was fascinating, overcrowded, and incredibly smelly in equal measure.
I loved the look of the people, they were small and indefatigable, smiling and at the same time, alien to my western eyes; however my heart began to melt in reaction to their warm welcome.
I found they especially loved the way I would use the Nepalese word for “Toliet”, I had been told by a so called friend that it was `Bambo`; later I found out that `Bambo` actually was Nepalese for lobster.
Nepal is landlocked so I was surprised they even had a word for lobster.
I reached the Base camp of Everest after receiving a lift in a stretch Range Rover, driven by Crown Prince Pulangerweedee.
We had met in the Katmandu MacDonald’s, he had been seduced by my continual asking for the `Lobster`.
I was dressed in my usual attire of track suit pants and floppy sweater, over a thin, fat-stretched T-shirt.
It was 29 degrees below freezing; everyone else was dressed in the appropriate climbing gear for a Nepalese Mountain, heaver weather warm.
People were staring at me as though I was some kind of alien, finally a German Mountaineer, known as Ginger Heinz, took me aside, behind one of the many large tents and asked me why I was wearing so little clothing, and was I crazy or just stupid?
I thanked him for his concern and explained that due to being decidedly overweight I tended to feel overheated most of the time; and that I found the temperature to be pleasant, nay actually refreshing!!
“Gott im Himmel!!” He exasperated and strode away in a Germanic funk.
I began to ascend the mountain at a brisk pace followed by what I know now to be Sherpa’s, who were asking if I needed them to carry my ruck-sack.
I said that I was fine and I would see them later.
Well what can I say about Everest, as you know it’s the tallest Mountain in the world.
I expected I would have to stop a few times to take a break; but actually due to being able to eat and walk at the same time I was able to munch on my Marmite sandwiches whilst strolling up the mountain.
The views were amazing.
I would occasionally pass some mountaineers on the way up; but they just took me for a hallucination so I couldn’t really engage in any meaningful conversations.
I reached the top after about 3 hours and I can tell you it was worth the time spent walking, although 3 hours may seem a bit excessive.
The air was decidedly thin,. But I had an empty crisp bag, and used it to top up my breathing, as I stood and marveled and what is known as the `Roof of the World`.
Whilst enjoying the scenery, I heard the sound of a helicopter, gradually getting louder as it approached the top of the mountain.
I crouched down as it landed and the wind from the rotor blades swept up the powdery snow.
Out stepped my old friend Donald Trump Junior, what a lovely surprise.
“Em, Okay Donnie that would be great”
Landing at Leeds I was surprised to find my wife waiting at arrivals, I had told her that I had gone to stay with a friend in Cleckheaton, how had she found out?
“It was on the news, you are a celebrity!”
She said this staring straight ahead as she drove me home, we never mentioned it again.
But Woody was right, If you put your mind to something!