“Wandering through the back streets, we came upon the offices of Peak Promotion. Uninvited, we walked in and asked to speak to its principal. Wongchu Sherpa had, in the past, reached the summit of the world’s highest mountain on two occasions. He also played an instrumental role in producing and organising the Imax movie, ‘Everest’. These were amazing feats by anyone’s standards and naturally I was curious. Several questions popped into my mind. What does it take to conquer Everest? What type of person do you need to be to make it to the top? How important is a person’s frame of mind in all this? I wanted answers.
As we dined that night with this friendly, accommodating man, I had an opportunity to cross-examine him. One thing was clear: life was about having fun. Even in an attempt to climb Everest, your motivation must be just that, to have fun.
"Never, never challenge Mount Everest, because it will triumph," Wongchu warned. He also believed that to conquer Everest, the climber must become one with the peak. One should see the mountain as God, he said. Before setting off each day, the expedition crew prayed to the mountain and prayed to God. After prayer, the campsite was left in pristine condition to pay their God the maximum respect.
Preparation, teamwork and fitness were also emphasised as important, but again and again Wongchu came back to that three letter word, ‘fun’.
At the time, I didn’t believe it and I wondered how the hell he could. Given that he had climbed Everest twice before -- twice more than me! -- he was in a better position than I to comment. Looking back, I can see now that his experience mirrors that of someone doing what they love: it’s fun, not work. His wisdom should have been obvious to me. Being motivated by fun may not move mountains, but it certainly can help on the trek to the top of one!
Before I left his home, Wongchu gave me a fantastic photograph taken from the snowy top of Mount Everest, the highest point in the world, looking down across the massive, jagged peaks of the lower Himalayas. I treasure it still.
This picture inspires and challenges me to be the best I can be as a keynote speaker but also reminds me to enjoy the trip or as Wongchu says…”Have fun!”