Each of us has a dream, something that burns deep inside us, a passion, a desire for change in our lives. For Tasmanian businessman John Zeckendorf, this dream has been climbing the highest mountains on every continent on earth. He’s conquered six of the seven, and next week flies out of Hobart to face his final challenge, and biggest one yet, Mount Everest.
Although he’s been climbing mountains for nearly eight years now, and recent training for this climb has seen him not only climb all over Tassie, but hike up Mount Wellington up to three times a day some days, Zeckendorf says Everest will be quite different to anything else he’s experienced.
“This is the first time I’ve done an 8,000 metre peak, so it’s roughly 2,000 metres higher than anything I’ve done before. On this mountain I’ll be using oxygen systems, which I’ve never used before, and the way we climb it is quite different”.
Base Camp, the beginning point of the world’s most famous climb, is still some 4,000 metres higher than Mount Wellington. Camp 1 is nearly 1,000 metres higher again.
In fact, because of Everest’s great height and the challenges of the thinning atmosphere, instead of treating the climb as you would other mountains, climbers need to adjust to changes in conditions over a couple of weeks even before they make it to Base Camp. From there they’ll make the climb to Camp 1, and down again—and up again—a couple of times over a few weeks, to get their bodies used to the challenge of climbing in low oxygen. The same will happen between camps 1 and 2, and so on, in a kind of yo-yo fashion, so that by the time the climbers reach the summit they’ve actually climbed the mountain some two or three times over already.
Zeckendorf says that some six or seven thousand people have climbed Everest since Sir Edmund Hilary’s first successful ascent in 1953, and, as far as he can tell, if he is successful, he will be the first Tasmanian to reach the summit. To celebrate this he’ll be waving a Tasmanian flag—and our CEO has also organised an Ultra106.5fm badge to wear on his jacket, possibly making us the first Tasmanian radio station to be advertised on the summit of Mount Everest!
Aside from the personal challenge and satisfaction, Zeckendorf is also using his climb as a fundraiser for local charity, Pathways Tasmania, who provide supported accommodation services that assist people with high-needs who are battling addictions, mental health issues, family conflict and homelessness.
“I think that there are some good parallels between climbing and what Pathways do. Firstly, it is difficult to do it – few go there for that reason. Secondly, you need to break down a seemingly huge and impossible task into smaller bite sized chunks that can be tackled in stages and manageable bits. Thirdly, you need focus, dedication and determination to succeed. Finally, it is difficult but immensely rewarding in many ways.”
Zeckendorf is encouraging everyone who expresses an interest in his climb to get behind Pathways Tasmania, and support the people in our community who are facing an Everest of their own.
If you’d like to make a donation to support Pathways Tasmania, please click this link now.