1. You talked about the need for a mountaineer to “respect” the mountain, how does this “respect” influence the way you climb?
I see mountains as one of the most fierce forces Nature has to offer, they have their own weather patterns with dangerously high winds and temperatures so low that blood literally shunts itself away from the extremities in order to preserve core body temperature thus causing permanent damage to skin and other tissues.
Mountains have a couple of other surprises up their sleeves, such as Overhanging Ceracs, Avalanche Gullies and Crevasses Fields.
All of which can take your life in an instant.
Knowing and understanding these elements helps me realise that Mountaineering is NOT a game and many great climbers have lost their lives to the mountains. When I prepare for any climb I make sure that I am in the best physical and mental shape I could possibly be in and by doing so I help limit the risks involved and allow myself the best possible chance to complete my objective.
During the climb I stay alert and listen to what the mountain is telling me, when the weather is too warm do not go up as the chances of avalanches increase, when lenticular cloud (UFO Shaped) starts to appear in the sky on a clear windless day and the air pressure drops dramatically you know that high winds and bad weather are approaching.
It is this knowledge and respect that allows me a calculated chance of success and a safe return, unharmed and ready to take on my next adventure.
2. A mountain is often used as a metaphor for life’s difficult challenges, do you find that there are similarities between the way that you would face a life ordeal and the way that you would approach a climb?
I was recently ask to offer my own inspirational quote for a book being released next year and I submitted the following, “Mountains mirror life. No matter what life throws at you, just keep climbing”.
This to me is so true, mountains as in life have a certain objective a person is constantly trying to reach and during his/her journey towards achieving this goal he/she will encounter numerous obstacles and unforeseen challenges. He/she may get “knocked down” and disheartened, they may feel like giving up and quitting.
But it is those people that get back up and keep on moving forward, that will truly taste success in their lives and once they reach their “summit” they will feel a level of empowerment that will remain with them for ever.
Mountains as a metaphor for life’s difficulties really drives home the importance of having a vision of where you want to go, detailed planning, focusing on the next step in front of you and never giving up on your dreams and aspirations, and to always remember to just keep climbing.
3. Besides vigorous physical preparation before a climb, you mentioned the intense mental preparation that is required. Can you tell us how you go about preparing mentally?
The best way to prepare yourself mentally for a climbing is through experience, the more expeditions you undertake and the more scenarios you encounter help you prepare for the new challenges that await you.
Mental preparation cannot be taught, it is something inside you? A “drive” that comes from deep within which tells you to push on no matter the pain or exhaustion, when you feel you can go no further, you have only scratched the surface of what you are truly capable of.
4. Are there any incidents or experiences as a mountaineer that have changed you as a person?
Every expedition changes you a little.
I would not be the man I am today had it not been for each one of those expeditions and the various incidents and experiences I have encountered along the way. From the numerous deaths to the humbling failures, I have learnt to respect this G-d given gift called “life” and not to want what others have nor worry about unimportant materialistic pressures we encounter in our everyday lives. I have become more thankful for the smaller things in life like running water, a warm bed and my families wellbeing.
5. Over the years as you’ve gained more experience, has anything changed in the way you approach an expedition?
I am more cautious and take a less “cowboy” approach towards the climb, as reaching the summit is only the half-way point. Making it back down alive and in one piece to be reunited with your loved ones is the “True Summit”.
One of the greatest mountaineers of all time, Ed Viesturs once said “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”