Did I mention one of my friends is stuck on Everest?

It takes a special kind of crazy to include climbing all seven summits as an item on your bucket list.  And his name is Nico Oosthuizen.  I’m posting this because it is the man’s birthday and we had a very brief conversation this morning.  The reception wasn’t as good as one might expect it to be.  The fact that he is closer to the orbiting satellites than any other person I know, didn’t mean anything for the shitty reception.

Nico has already climbed five of the seven summits and then skied to the South pole because he can.  Yes, you are correct in thinking that he must be really bored and has not heard of the Discovery Channel, where a person  can watch other people scale mountains in the comfort (and safety) of a soft chair and a beer.  His expeditions are quite inspirational to the rest of his mates, so far as reaching the point where we are all wishing him well and praying for his safe return. We don’t do cold well.

During our brief conversation today, he talked about the absolute devastation of Kathmandu.   The part that sent chills down my spine was his recollection of the avalanche that killed 18 climbers at Base camp on 25 April 2015.  He told me that the impact of all of that mass of falling snow and rock was like a massive airplane hit the side of the mountain. Beyond the obvious chaos he clearly remembers all the people screaming. It’s something that will haunt the dreams of most men.  He said they were extremely lucky, which I personally think is a little bit of an understatement.   From what I understand,  they were in a different area of the base camp when the avalanche hit.

I asked him how he feels and he only commented that I wouldn’t recognize him. He sounds to be severely sunburnt, with overgrown hair and a very skinny frame.  I pictured him to look like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. It seems that a month on a mountain will make you look like a cartoon character.   At least he retained his sense of humour and an unfaltering spirit and will to succeed.

Our relief for his safety was short lived as we were dumbfounded to hear that they are still looking for a route that would enable them to summit the highest peak in the world.  They still want to scale Mount Everest!  Their argument being that they still have one month to do so.  They will start the trek back to base camp tomorrow and would have a better idea of their options by the end of next week.

The general consensus of most people in our community hearing this, was perfectly summed up by an old lady, who upon hearing that their “return” didn’t imply South Africa but base camp, said: “He must have his head examined.”

But then again the lady doesn’t know Nico Oosthuizen.  We do. We get it.

All that is left is for his wife, their triplets and all his friends, wishing him the best of luck and God speed for the rest of their arduous journey. We will continue to pray for their safe return.

(If you’re interested in reading more about the South African expedition and seeing some photos of their adventure and the unfortunate devastation of the earthquake, be sure to visit http://www.seanwisedale.com)

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