By Noorasikin Ali
GOMBAK, 24 November 2016 – I have heard a lot of unpleasant stories about the journey to “capture” Mount Everest, like numerous people who had died there, natural disasters happening every day that posed risks and endangered life, but still this natural wonder keeps attracting human beings.
For some people, it is just a waste of time; climbing up there for nothing and coming back after a few weeks. I do agree with them sometimes. Well, why would you sacrifice your early 20s to climb that scary place? It does seem useless.
I guess I am lucky because last week there was a talk entitled ‘Everest: Journey to the Peak’ by Azim Afif. So, I attended to get a clearer explanation about expedition to Mount Everest from the expert. It was organised by Dar Al-Hikmah Library.
Azim Afif Ishak was the 20th Malaysian who succeeded conquering Mount Everest and safely returned home at the early age of 28 years.
In the first part of his talk he said, “Thousands of people died in their mission to conquer Mount Everest, but what makes me eager to go there?”
All of us in the room anticipated his answer. “I will share with you what is so special about Mount Everest that make people eager to go there,” he added. It began to draw.
He showed us a video about Mount Everest. In that video, I saw dead bodies everywhere along the way to the peak.
“There were about 200 dead bodies and we used it as a road sign to the peak,” Azim further explained as the video played on.
It was not an easy job for him to start his mission. The journey started with his proposal to seek financial assistance being rejected by the top management of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) for many times, but he never gave up until his proposal was accepted and he successfully scaled the world’s highest peak. It took him about one semester to make a complete proposal.
Mount Everest is the highest mountain on earth. According to the right procedure, climbers who want to reach the peak have to start on the lower levels of the mountain to train themselves. Azim Afif said, “We need to face three phases of the training before we can climb Mount Everest, the first phase below 4000m, second below 6000m and third phase below 8000m.”
“Mount Kinabalu’s height is half of the Mount Everest’s, in which it stands at approximately 4095m, thus we trained for 15 times in Mount Kinabalu and then we further our training to Everest base camp on 2012,” he added.
Everest base camp has the altitude below 6000m and they proceeded to Lobuche peak located in Nepal with around 6116m.
Next, Azim Afif, with other climbers were sent to Mont Blanc in France to face similar challenges at Mount Everest. “We were given hard days during the training, being forced to climb up here and there, passing the glacier, and by the time we almost lost our hope, the Sherpa, who is the instructor, had motivated us to get back our spirit,” he explained.
Along his journey to the Everest peak, there was avalanche tragedy happened in 2014, that forced them to return because it is too dangerous for them to proceed. Once again, it was like the end for him. He went back to Malaysia and finished his study at UTM until he graduated.
However there is no stopping to this young man to continue what he has started. With his effort, he tried his best to seek some money to begin his journey back. He climbed back again to the Everest Base Camp in 2015.
“On 25 April 2015, at 11.56a.m, we were sitting at the camp and suddenly the ketchup bottle was shaking and our drinks also spilled, accompanied by the sound of crashes – another nightmare on Everest,” he further explained.
At that time, many media in Malaysia reported the tragedy. Many people perished during that tragedy, he totally lost his hope. They were told by the government to return.
However, after being motivated by his senior, he wanted to try it for the last time. But, this time he climbed the risky peak in Tibet instead of Nepal.
Previously, only one Malaysian succeeded in climbing up the peak from Tibet, China. It was like a new information for all of us, I think.
Azim Afif in his talk explained that there are slightly differences between both ways, Nepal and Tibet. “In Nepal, we started from Lukla, about 2800m then we have to hike to Everest Base Camp to reach at Khumbu Icefall, in which the ice was moving every day, to pass all the six camps to reach the summit and it took three months for us to get on top.”
“On the other hand, from Tibet, the Everest base camp located at 5182m then moved to Advanced Base Camp with 6500m, after that we have to go to another two camp before we reached the Everest peak at the altitude of 8550m and we only needed two months to reach it.”
Moreover, according to Azim Afif, from Tibet, it is more restricted as compared to Nepal. They have to go through many inspections by the authorities. Plus, in Tibet, there is no icefall but there are many ice-hole thus it was less dangerous.
After two months, he finished his journey to the end. With the help of the Sherpa, Malaysian flag was at the top of Everest Mountain again.
“The real success is when we challenge ourselves to try something new and based on that we can know and understand better about ourselves,” he concluded. ***