Gabriel Westin from the Gothenburg office and his three friends are boarding a plane bound for Kathmandu today to fulfil their dream of standing on top of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, 8848 meters above sea level.
Nothing is impossible
“There is really no obvious answer to why people would expose themselves to something as demanding as climbing the world's highest mountain. We are neither professional climbers nor adventurers, even though we have climbed a lot of mountains and undertaken other adventures. We are attracted by the challenge and we share the same conviction that nothing is impossible and we want to prove that. When you take on challenges of this kind where you are subjected to great physical and mental strains a special bond is formed which is difficult to achieve in other ways. It is also a fantastic nature experience,” says Gabriel Westin.
Statistically approximately two-thirds of those people who try to reach the summit fail. Gabriel still thinks that they have a fairly good chance of succeeding. In addition to not getting ill and not injuring themselves, the weather needs to be perfect. The three friends have known each other for ten years which they view as a significant advantage since the mental part is at least as important as the physical. Being able to stay mentally strong all the time is very important when you are exposed to great physical strains. For instance, it is psychologically and physically demanding to sleep in a tent for two months when the temperature can fall anywhere from 20 to 40 degrees below zero.
“I am not afraid, but of course I am a bit nervous. There are, after all, a few accidents on the mountain every year. Some things are also beyond our control such as avalanches and falling ice and rocks,” says Gabriel.
“The project has required a lot of planning and time. Organising the project has been a logistical nightmare, e.g. all the requisite permits, food, equipment, transportation, air tickets, visas, etc.” says Gabriel.
Gabriel Westin continues,
“There is also the physical challenge; you have to try and stay well even though you are exercising a lot. Since climbing Mount Everest is expensive, you also have to attract sponsors. In addition, you still have to do your job and make sure that you do not neglect your family. This leaves little spare time. I exercise about 5 days a week with a focus on endurance and fitness. Among other things, I walk up the stairwell in one of Gothenburg's tallest buildings, Gothia Towers, which has 23 floors. I walk up the stairs about 20 times carrying a backpack weighing 16-17 kilos.
Less than two years ago the friends were standing together at the top of North America's highest mountain, Mount McKinley (6194 m). They have also climbed several mountains in Sweden, Norway and the Alps during the last four/five years, including Mont Blanc (4810 m).
“We have always talked about how much fun it would be to climb Mount Everest and we have now reached a stage where it is possible both physically and in terms of our level of experience,” Gabriel concludes.
Only 16 Swedes having managed to reach the summit of Mount Everest. If three or four persons out of the group manage to reach the summit then this will be a Swedish record since no more than two Swedes have ever stood on the summit at the same time.
We wish Gabriel and his friends the best of luck!