Standing upon the most majestic mountaintop, draped in a blanket of snow, above a horizon of heavenly clouds, Thomas Haines says, is not the apex of his life.
The Association for Student Activity Programming (ASAP) brought the tale of Haines’ Mount Everest adventure to a crowd of 34 CSU students Thursday night.
Almost two years ago Haines boarded a plane, delivering him to the Tibetan legend.
After graduating college at 22, Haines mastered Everest’s trails and discovered a desire to conquer the world’s other peaks.
Twenty-two climbers traveled with Haines, packing more than 15 tons of gear for 18 weeks on the mountain.
Fourteen sherpas and their accompanied yaks provided the powerhouse behind the climbers.
“Yaks are interesting creatures,” Haines said. “They look kind of aggressive but they are exactly like cows.”
He described the first sight of the mountain as breathtaking and chilling.
“I was asking myself ‘Am I really going to do this?’ Am I out of my mind?'” Haines remembers.
Pondering the hike, Haines thought about how the life he was given might be taken away on the trek to the summit.
“I was spending time with my God and thinking that God is bigger than this mountain and it put my mind at ease,” Haines said.
Due to the physical demands on the body, Haines said every task was exhausting, even menial tasks like rolling over in a sleeping bag.
“We would hike two hours and look back at the camp we just came from that is only 200 yards away,” Haines said.
It took eight hours for his team to reach the summit from the intermediate base camp, three-quarters of a mile away.
Before attempting the climb, Haines triumphed over peaks in Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, New Zealand and Mexico.
In addition to his long r/sum/ of climbed mountains, he spent six weeks training and gained 20 pounds to protect muscles.
“You use 6,000 calories per day just sitting in the tent and your appetite was so suppressed that you are force-feeding yourself,” Haines said.
Despite the intense preparation, Haines claimed the most difficult part was raising funds and attempting to explain to potential sponsors the benefit of climbing a mountain.
“There is nothing arbitrary about spending tons of money to risk your life and sit on a pile of rocks,” Haines said.
Jim Davidson, CSU alumni and climbing instructor for the CSU Outdoor Adventure Program, was interested in Haines experiences because of his dream of too, climbing Everest.
“It was nice how he steered it back to ourselves and how we can achieve our own goals,” Davidson said.