ALBERTA

John Oldring, Ex-Alberta Politician, Among Oldest Canadians To Climb Mount Everest

06/12/2017 11:06 EDT | Updated 06/13/2017 12:21 EDT

RED DEER, Alta. — A former Alberta politician has become one of the oldest Canadians to summit Mount Everest.

John Oldring, who served as a member of the legislature from 1986 to 1993 after spending more than a decade on Red Deer city council, accomplished the feat on May 25.

"We probably had one of the best days of the year to summit on,'' Oldring, 64, told the Red Deer Advocate.

everest John Oldring says he saw the bodies of four people being carried down the mountain. (Photo: Getty Images)

He said they could see the curvature of the Earth through clear, blue skies from the world's highest mountain top. His team had originally planned to reach the peak on May 26, which turned out to be a cloudy day for other climbers.

"They didn't have any visibility. It was flat. They couldn't stand on the top of Everest and see the other mountains.''

It was the second Everest attempt for the Calgary resident. In 2015, his team was climbing the treacherous Khumbu Icefall on the Nepali slopes of Mount Everest when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal and left them in a total whiteout.

The eight-member team survived, but down at base camp at least 22 people died and several were injured.

Although the quake left many others with post-traumatic stress disorder, Oldring didn't hesitate to try again.

"I hadn't reached the summit yet. The job wasn't done.''

Spent 15 minutes on top after a nine-hour climb

He said seven people have died so far this year on Everest. His team saw four bodies brought down the mountain and passed another body still in the snow.

"I'd stop and say a quick prayer for them and their families. Then I'd say a quick prayer for me and keep on going.''

His team reached the summit at 8:15 a.m. after a nine-hour climb from Camp Four, then spent about 15 minutes on top of the world.

"It was fabulous. Everest is so big. You just can't appreciate the scale at all. It's truly amazing.''

But they also knew the peak was a death zone, he said.

"We had no urgency time-wise. We climbed so quickly. But on the other hand you always have to remind yourself a successful climb is getting down the mountain, not just getting up it, so you don't spend a lot of time up there.''

“You always have to remind yourself a successful climb is getting down the mountain, not just getting up it, so you don't spend a lot of time up there.''
— John Oldring

"It was fabulous. Everest is so big. You just can't appreciate the scale at all. It's truly amazing.''

But they also knew the peak was a death zone, he said.

"We had no urgency time-wise. We climbed so quickly. But on the other hand you always have to remind yourself a successful climb is getting down the mountain, not just getting up it, so you don't spend a lot of time up there.''

Oldest person to climb Everest was 80 years old

It wasn't until he came down that he found out he was one of the oldest Canadians to summit Everest.

"Any climb that I've been on, I always know I'll be oldest. My theory is I make sure I always train the hardest, train the smartest and climb as smart and efficiently as I can. I don't want to be the person who holds the team back and I never have been.''

The oldest person to climb Everest is Yuichiro Miura of Japan, who reached the summit in 2013 at the age of 80.

Just this month, 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan from Nepal died while trying to regain the title. He had managed to summit the mountain in 2008 when he was 76.

In 2007, Werner Berger, a consultant from Newmarket, Ont., made it to the top at the age of 69.

(Red Deer Advocate, The Canadian Press)