Family and friends kept me going, says Cypriot Everest champ
THE FIRST Cypriot to reach the summit of Mount Everest said his first thought on reaching the top was getting back safely for the birth of his child.
“Once I set foot on the top the urge to get back safely was intense so I could be back for the birth of my son,” said Giorgos Andreou.
Andreou was speaking at a news conference yesterday on the expedition, which also marked exactly one month since he reached the top on May 19.
The other thing that kept him going were letters written by people close to him, which he carried in his backpack. He said he enjoyed the trip despite obvious difficulties.
“I was positive and I didn’t let the negative thoughts in but I was worried, (thinking) what if my body doesn’t adjust or if something happens in the death zone,” said Andreou.
‘Death zone’ is the climb from about 8,000m upwards (the last camp before the top). This is the point where temperatures can dip to very low levels, resulting in frostbite on any body part exposed to the outside air. Low oxygen is also a problem so climbers must be equipped with oxygen tanks.
Andreou, 39, who is also deputy head of the Cyprus Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Federation, set out on his journey at the beginning of April with another 11 people comprising an international team. The expedition started from Kathmandu. Andreou was the second person on his team to set foot on the summit. One of the other team members however lost his life after falling into a crevice.
The accident occurred at a point in the journey when the team had to cross a crevice using a ladder. But the team member in question was not harnessed securely and fell.
Andreou faced some physical difficulties at the end of the journey such as developing slight hypothermia and impaired eyesight, which was due to the long periods of time spend in the ‘death zone.’ The effects on climbers in the ‘death zone’ is so great that it usually takes them about 12 hours to walk 1.72km.
Kypros Nicolaou, Andreou’s coach puts the success of the expedition down to two things: luck and being in good physical shape. However, Andreou added: “The mountain allowed me to reach the top……we realise how small we are going up against nature.”
In his nine-year climbing career Andreou has already taken on other high altitude mountains such as Mount Viatau in Russia, 3820m, Mount Elbrus at 5642m and Mount Aconcagua at 6967m, the highest mountain in the Americas.
The first successful ascent to the top of Mount Everest was made by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Andreou joins the list of climbers – around 3000 until now – to have succeeded in the treacherous journey to the top of the world’s highest mountain.
(Source: Cyprus Mail)
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