I have no interest in climbing mountains, enduring hardship or trekking for miles but I do like to hear how others have done it. The sheer determination and endurance of the people who do such things amaze me, so when I saw that there would be talk given at the SeaCity museum by mountain climber, Adrian Hayes promoting his book One Man’s Climb, I thought I would volunteer to help set up for the talk and to greet people as they arrived.
The room where the talk would be held is normally the cafe at the museum, so the main thing to do was to remove the tables and rearrange the seating for the talk. When I arrived, much of this had already been done, but I would need to help put everything back after the talk. My job was to greet people (seems to be my forte) and show them where the talk was being held. Unlike the Leonardo Da Vinci day I volunteered at in May, they were not expecting a huge crowd, so once everyone was in, I could sit and listen to the talk. Bonus!
As Adrian explained about the challenges of climbing K2, the mountain which the book mainly focuses on, I began to understand why over 2,000 people have climbed Everest, but only 381 have climbed K2. The second highest mountain in the world is located in an extremely remote place – it takes 8 days of trekking to get there, and that is before you even start to climb the mountain itself. It is also extremely sheer and difficult, and the weather is very unpredictable. The stats for K2 reflect this with a 22% death rate compared to Everest’s 6.5%.
I was interested to hear how the team go about climbing a mountain and the role the various camps have, and I was astonished at the photographs. Adrian kept saying
“there is a bit of flat here where the tents are” and I was thinking “that is still an an angle of nearly 45 degrees”. Snow, wind, ice and rocks, together with sheer sides to climb just had me shaking my head in disbelief. Oh, and with all that is an elevation of 8,611 metres (28,251 ft), so the altitude sickness is crippling.
At the end of the talk, there was time for questions from the audience and then Adrian signed copies of his book.
All there was left to do was to restore the cafe back to normal, and say goodbye to all the new people I had met and worked with that evening. Another interesting and satisfying volunteering event.