A Canadian man who survived the scaling of Mount Everest is back in Vancouver, and says he was undeterred during the two-month adventure that saw a Toronto resident and several other climbers die earlier this month.
"I knew the risks, thought about it beforehand, about the bodies, so I just kept going and tried not to think about it," says Steve Curtis, who arrived at Vancouver's International Airport on Saturday.
"It was pretty surreal to look around and see pretty much way above everything. You can actually see the curvature of the Earth."
Toronto resident Shriya Shah, 33, was one of six climbers who died on the mountain in Nepal earlier this month. Shah died of exhaustion and altitude sickness. A recovery team on Saturday was hampered by bad weather while attempting to bring down Shah's body from the section of the mountain known as the Balcony.
Curtis, a cancer survivor, climbed Mount Everest for Take a Hike, a local alternative education program that engages at-risk youth in adventure-based learning and community involvement. He set the goal about five years ago, but only made the firm commitment last Christmas.
"The important thing for me is it taught me the importance of life and I'm just glad to be home."
Girlfriend calls climber 'a rock star'
Curtis's girlfriend, Jennifer Lowther, said scaling Everest is a huge feat.
"I'm really proud. He's a rock star. First time he did Everest and given less than 20 per cent chance of reaching the summit, and he came back with all his bits," she said.
"I can't even imagine what he's gone through. I've seen the pictures and heard the news while he was gone."
Curtis's mother, Marlene Curtis, is just glad her son came back in one piece.
"I knew he'd come back safe. He promised."
Curtis credits an amazing Sherpa and extra equipment for accomplishing his goal.