To make it to the roof of the world you need more than skill, you need an iron will and a generous measure of good luck.
Up to 2017, close to 4,500 people have summited Mt. Everest but 282 have died in the attempt, either before or after reaching the top. Over a thousand climbers, mostly Sherpas, have made the ascent multiple times. One of these mountaineers is American Garrett Madison, a climbing guide who has shepherded more than 44 clients safely to the summit.
Madison made his first ascent in 2006 and recently recalled the climb with the help of journalist Olivia Lee.
“Everest is the ultimate prize – the closest you can get to space with your feet still on the ground. But when brutal winds and temperatures of -40ºC lash 29,029ft of ice and snow, it is no surprise the lives of nearly 300 people have been lost there since attempts to summit began in the 1920s. I grew up climbing mountains with my father in the US, and from the age of 17, I was hooked. I tried some conventional jobs, but I always found myself back at the mountains. For eight years, I climbed in the Alps and guided expeditions on Mount Rainier, Denali and Aconcagua, but Everest always eluded me – complicated, daunting and incredibly expensive.
“And then, in August 2005, I got a phone call from a friend asking me if I would go. There was a private client who wanted the best possible shot of reaching the top, and needed a team of experienced guides to help.”
Read the rest of Garrett’s account over at The Daily on the Mr Porter site.
Madison now runs Madison Mountaineering, a boutique mountain guide service that he launched in 2013.