Mount Everest has tempted and devoured devout climbers ever since her discovery as the world’s highest peak in 1856. Only 4,102 people have reached her icy summit, and 210 people have died striving to reach it.
Jamie Clarke, renowned adventurer and explorer, spoke at CSU Thursday night about overcoming all obstacles to reach that lofty goal.
Clarke has climbed the killer mountain three times but only summitted the peak once. Each time he climbed he learned what he could improve until finally, he got to the top.
The first time Clarke had the chance to climb Everest was in 1991. He went as a base camp manager and did not get to participate in much of the climb. The team he worked with did not summit that year.
His second chance to climb the giant mountain came in 1994.
“The little insignificant things matter,” Clarke said, referring to toilet paper as it was in short supply during his previous trip.
One of Clarke’s team members, John McIsaac, had the opportunity to reach the top; he was only two city blocks away when he realized he was too weak to continue. McIsaac fell asleep on the way back down the mountain before his team m rescued him.
“When you get that high on the mountain, you just get numb and tired and you start thinking of home,” Clarke said. “When you do, death just sees its chance.”
After two failed attempts up Everest, Clarke’s resolve was unshaken. He made a third successful attempt in 1997.
Clarke was unsatisfied with his first step on the top of the world, so as everyone began the steep trip down the mountain, Clarke turned around and hiked up a second time.
“I looked over the edge on the top of the world,” Clarke said. “You could see 8,000 feet down. It was the first time in my life that there was no more up. There was peace; no feeling of conquering just peacefulness.”
Champion brand is sponsoring Clarke to return to Everest for a fourth time. He and his team are going to Nepal in fall 2009 to train and test out new gear provided by Champion.
On March 27, 2010 Clarke and his team will begin their ascent up Mount Everest.
The audience responded enthusiastically to Clarke’s dry sense of humor.
“He’s really inspiring,” said senior natural resources major J.T. Metcalf. “I’ve done some high altitude stuff before but Clarke’s presentation really makes me want to climb more.”
“I really love mountaineering,” Andy Chrysler, a sophomore chemical engineering major said. “I thought his speaking was really inspiring, and I’d like to climb a couple of the Seven Summits.”
Staff writer Ashley Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org