Friday, June 25, 2010
Mount Everest Man
Our great friend Don Healy is back from the summit of Mount Everest! You may remember that I wrote about his climb before he and his wife Joyce left New York in March. Well, I am happy to tell you that he made it to the top on May 24th, a few days after his 65 birthday. And don't forget, he has an artificial hip.
The Healys had a jolly celebration this week in their home on Jane Street, and Don presented a slide presentation of his journey, which was quite amazing. The Healys live in a great house which is reached by traveling through the alley of a building which fronts Jane Street. The Healys' house was originally a blacksmith shop built in 1833. Around 1850 it became a bakery, and the baker built the front house. The Healys completely renovated and created a three storey home with a central stair well and exposed brick walls. We started with drinks in the courtyard and then moved up to seats on the top floor for the slide presentation. When it started to pour, rain splashed on the big sky lights overhead. It was very cozy.
As many good things do, this story begins with a book. Don said that he has wanted to climb Mount Everest ever since he was a boy and read The Conquest of Everest by Sir John Hunt.
While training for mountain climbing a few years ago, a serious bicycle accident left him with a shattered hip and debilitated for eleven weeks. Nevertheless, in March with a new hip he and Joyce left for Kathmandu, destination Mount Everest.
Joyce trekked with Don to base camp (a difficult climb in itself) and returned home in April. Don continued his eight week climb to the summit. EIGHT WEEKS! You can read about his adventure in detail on his blog. The extreme weather and lack of oxygen are only two factors which make it very dangerous. It took Don eleven hours to climb the last very steep mile because he had to take four breaths of oxygen for every one step.
But make it he did, pictured here on the summit where other climbers have left their prayer rugs.
Then began the careful descent; more accidents happen going down the mountain than going up. Don made it back safely, fifteen pounds lighter.
Upon returning, he set about raising money for the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC) in Kathmandu, which specializes in orthopedic surgery for children in rural areas with congenital deformities. Because of his hip replacement, Don wanted to sponsor an organization that provides orthopedic care to those in need. To find out about making a contribution, go to his web site Everest Hip Hop, and click on the "Donate" button.
With his accomplishment Don proved that age and physical setbacks need not be barriers to achieving one's goals. It's an inspiration to know a true adventurer, and it's a good story too: There was a feature about Don in The Wall Street Journal, and he appeared on the Today show, interviewed by Matt Lauer: