The thirteenth man
Welcome to 2011! I hope you are as excited about the prospect of the year ahead as I am, with some exciting adventures to look forward to in your lives.
After a wonderful 2.5 weeks in New Zealand over Christmas I accomplished a number of first achievements including getting married to my beautiful wife Stephanie, and being bitten by a horse.
Stephanie and I were honored to have over 120 friends and family from around the world make a huge effort to attend our wedding. People flew in from Norway, Cayman Islands, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. The day after the wedding around 40 of the guests accompanied us to the place where I grew up. In the hill country of Taranaki, we had an exciting tour of my fathers sheep farm. Pouring rain only added to the occasion as we all jumped on 4-wheel motor bikes and headed on a thrilling (and sometimes frightening) 3 hour journey over steep, exposed, slippery Eastern Taranaki hill country. A little bit of danger makes for great adventure, great stories and great memories. As you can see from the photo’s below it was a unique and experience for many of our guests to cling to a motorbike and go screaming up steep hillsides on greasy and muddy tracks, only just making to the tops.
I was also once again reminded of the beauty of New Zealand as we then spent lazy days relaxing at the beach, swimming and fishing, collecting mussels to steam in white wine, garlic and cream during the evenings and taking long walks along the coastline and the riverside. Alas the training component of my program for Everest 2011 took a backseat, and I managed to put on 2kg of weight in the 2.5 weeks I was home!
I did manage to start the New Year off on a high (literally) – by taking Stephanie to the top of Mt Egmont/Taranaki (2518m). This was Stephanie’s first major mountain, and I was very proud of her as she quietly climbed beside me, carefully traversing the loose scree slopes and finally scrambling up the steep rocky ridge to the summit. As we sat on the summit eating our sandwiches and admiring the view, my father then flew past us in a small aeroplane – making two loops of the summit and waggling the planes wings in the traditional pilots wave. What a fantastic day.
Yesterday I came across a list of all New Zealanders who had successfully summited Mt Everest. Since the 29th May, 1953 when fellow kiwi and the world’s most famous mountaineer (Sir Edmund Hillary) made the historic first ascent of Mt Everest, there have been a recorded 67 ascents of Everest by New Zealander climbers.
Of these 67 ascents, many of them have been repeat climbs by professional mountain guides. So the total number of individual New Zealanders who have climbed Everest according to my calculations is only 33.
The majority of the ascents are from the technically easier South Col Route in Nepal. For the North Col – North Ridge route I am attempting in April, I then started to count how many kiwi’s had climbed via this route. I am not a naturally superstitious person however I broke into a cold sweat after going through the list and coming to my ascent as being the 13th.. Hmmmm… 13, not a very lucky number at all! I immediately wished I had not done the exercise at all and all sorts of bad feelings started running through my head. I made one last count through of the numbers and to my very major relief, saw I had missed an ascent. Number 13 has been done last year (safely so it seems!), So in April 2011 on Everest I could be only the 14th kiwi to stand atop the Big E climbing via the North Col – North Ridge Route.
The next three months will be a very busy time for me. I enter phase 2 of my training program which becomes much more intensive. With a training climb to New Zealand’s Southern Alps in February, the inevitable ramping up of work commitments and work travel, presentation and fundraising events to plan and conduct and the daily training regime, I am really excited about getting stuck into it all.
I am proud to announce that 1-Altitude has recently come onboard as a sponsor of Everest 2011 – Climbing for Humaneity. The world’s highest Alfresco bar is sponsoring an expedition to climb the worlds highest mountain – there is obviously some great synergy here! 1-Altitude will be hosting a number of events in support of my climb, including a slideshow presentation evening on the 17th February and a 6-nations rugby and golf evening on the 27th February. Watch this space for more details.
Finally check out the two articles which came out in Expat Living January edition and the ANZA magazine January edition of my Everest dream for 2011 – both can be found in the sidebar of my website.