(By Raheel Adnan and Correne Coetzer) After becoming the youngest person to cross Antarctica at age 20, in 2011-12, Teodor Glomnes Johansen set his aim on 8000 meter peaks and summited Manaslu last year October. Currently he is in Namche on his way to Everest South side and writes on Facebook, “The road to Everest base camp is a very nice and tourist friendly with fine buildings, Starbucks, wifi and my favorite - Yack Donalds. In other words, no need for suffering.”
Before he left home in Norway, ExWeb’s Raheel Adnan caught up with Teodor, talking about his Manaslu expedition and his expectations about Everest.
ExplorersWeb: “In addition to seeing if the earth really is round, I want to gain more experience of climbing high.” – You told us prior to the start of Manaslu expedition. So, how was the experience?
Teodor: The experience was perfect and a bit frightening at the beginning. I especially remember sitting on the plain from Moscow to Kathmandu. As I looked out of the window and far beneath the clouds, I could spot cities that looked more like Lego-towns than the sizable cities they actually are. I asked one of the cabin crew how high we were flying and when she answered, “approx. 8000 meter”, I remember thinking – “Wow Teo, what on earth have you gotten yourself into now!”.
I guess things can seem a lot more frightening in your imagination, rather than actually being there.
I couldn’t be more satisfied with the experience I got from Mt. Manaslu. I learned a lot but I’m far from outlearned. I strive to gain more experience and develop my skills as a climber and adventure in everyday life as well!
ExplorersWeb: Success on 8000er first attempt must be satisfying? Was there any difficulty in adjusting at altitude? Did you use bottled oxygen?
Teodor: It’s a good feeling to be able to say that the team and I successfully summited Mt. Manaslu. I had some challenges adjusting to the altitude at the beginning of the climb but used the advice from the more experienced climbers well, with great results. I used bottled oxygen and I’m happy that I did, even though I can understand that some climbers want to climb without it.
ExplorersWeb: How do you relate the Antarctic traverse and altitude climbing? Which one you want to be more focused on?
Teodor: The expeditions were very different. The amazing thing about Manaslu was to see all the contrasts. One day you are walking around in base camp chatting, playing cards and eating good Nepali food in a hot tent, but then the next day you’re suddenly climbing for 15 hours in a blizzard on the mountain while trying to make yourself breathe more easily.
In Antarctica every day was the same. I woke up, ate my food and skied for the same amount of hours as I did the day before. As far as I was concerned, we were the only people on earth, with no connection to the outside world and not worrying about anything else than the routines that would get us from A to B.
If you want the “All-by-yourself-unluxurious-experience”, I feel that Antarctica is the place to go.
All my focus is now on Mt. Everest. Just because it went fine on the Manaslu Expedition, doesn’t mean that I can relax before Everest. I feel that I now know what I’m getting myself into, and for the next month’s I’ll continue training hard and trying to figure out all the obstacles I might meet on Mt. Everest.
ExplorersWeb: The most challenging moment of Manaslu expedition?
Teodor: The most challenging part of the expedition was the beginning. I always think the first week of expeditions is hard. It simply takes some time to change you mentality from the busy, nonstop social life to “the slow-mo-life” on a mountain or in a snow desert.
ExplorersWeb: Weather window on your summit push was not ideal. Tell us a little about summit bid.
Teodor: Depends on what an ideal summit push is. Of course I want to reach the summit on a clear day with little wind, but I also see the beauty on the “rubbish weather days”. You spend so much time on the mountain that you get the sunny days as well. Therefor it didn’t bother me much that the weather window wasn’t (in many people’s eyes) ideal.
ExplorersWeb: A Sherpa from your team suffered an accident on descent, but fortunately not fatal one. How was rescue arranged?
Teodor: We were a group of 6 people that were together when this happened. 3 Sherpas and 3 clients. It’s not a good feeling when you understand that one of the team members have gone through a snow bridge. Once the two remaining Sherpas saw what happened they were extremely quick to start the rescue. It was a reminder of how important it is to constantly be clipped in, and after watching how professional the rescue was handled and arranged I’m glad to be climbing with the same team on the Everest expedition 2014.
ExplorersWeb: What do you think is the most beautiful aspect of climbing a high peak?
Teodor: The most beautiful aspect is when you stand high on the mountain and you can see the sunset and sunrise paint the clouds with different colors. Truly breathtaking!
ExplorersWeb: How are your preparations for Everest?
Teodor: I have done the same as I did before Mt. Manaslu. I have walked long trips with my beloved backpack, trained in the slalom slopes, gained 10 kg, asked the experienced climbers for tips and tricks and tested my clothes and myself in the Amundsen Expedition Race in Norway. (It’s a 100 km race in the Norwegian national park “Hardangervidda”.)
You never know what can happen on expeditions, but I feel confident that I have done everything in my power to be prepared for the Everest Expedition.
ExplorersWeb: After Manaslu, you're attempting Everest ... Will you be venturing into more high peaks?
Teodor: I'm taking one mountain at the time, but I'm a doer and I can promise you that this is not the last you will hear from me :)
Teodor Johansen’s Everest 2014 pages:
#mountaineering #everest2014 #teodorjohansen #interview #manaslu
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