On November 18, of 2010, a special guest speaker, Ed Webster, visited a private highschool in rural Maine (Fryeburg Academy) to share his exciting yet perilous tales of climbing Mount Everest with three buddies, no sherpas, and no oxygen. His story is an inspirational one as well as one you wouldn’t reccommend anyone do at home. In an interview after his speech, he shared his secrets to success as I’d like to call them, and explains his devotion and passion for climbing the biggest mountains in the world.
What’s your name and where are you presently residing?
“Ed Webster and I currrently live in Orr’s Island, near Brunswick, in Maine.”
What inspired you to start climbing?
“I read a book when I was eleven called Everest Diary that my mother obtained from the local library. It was about the first American Expedition to Mount Everest in 1963 and the climbers recieved Gold Medals for their effort. Those people were my heroes. She also encouraged me to learn how to climb and use a rope safely.”
What was your most memorable trip? Why?
“It was the 1988 expedition to Everest. My team climbed a new route, and climbed it in such an unusual way, with no outside help. We climbed without oxygen bottles, without sherpas and without radios.”
What else made the 1988 ascent to Everest so difficult?
“It was the hardest in our lives. We went three an a half days without food, one of my partners had to go back down due to an illness, and the three of us that were left were as close to death as we’d ever been. One of the few reasons we actually survived was because of our friendship and willingness to work together to achieve something. We never gave up on each other.”
What’s a day like on Everest? Very few of us have ever or will ever make it up there, and we’d like to know what it was really like.
“Well, every day is difficult, but the most difficult days consisted of my team waking up at 2 in the morning, just so we could begin to melt ice and snow down for water and boil it, then we made our oatmeal around 3 or 3:30 in the morning because everything you do up there takes twice as long as normal. After that, we had to get on our headlamps, as it was still dark well before dawn when the mountain was frozen solid. We would then climb all day long until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, set up base camp, collapse inside and make dinner. Then, we did it again the next day.”
Wow, that’s pretty incredible. What are you most proud of in your climbing career?
“I saved the life of one of my partners on an expedition to Mongolia in 1992.”
And lastly, how did this trip change your life? What would you advise people to do in order to achieve their goals? Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“This trip changed my life dramatically.It gave me the self-confidence to tackle any obstacle or challenge in my life no matter what it was. On the other hand, there are difficulties in achievement. I suffered serious frostbit on Everest on eight of my fingertips and three toes and losing any body part is difficult but I learned, against the odds, how to climb again. I also went where not many can or will go, I saw amazing views of the biggest mountains in the world, and early on in the trip when I was still climbing with a few sherpas, they gave me inight to a whole other culture and those experiences in Tibet and Nepal changed my life for the better. I became a better person after my expeditions. I don’t consider myself an exceptional person by any means, but a piece of advice I can give to you is that I followed my dreams, my passion, what I loved to do. I would say that if I can climb a new route up Everest then you, as the reader can also accomplish great things in your lives. Live your life to the fullest, never forget your goals or childhood dreams no matter what. And to accomplish those, don’t give up and take small positive steps towards what you want to do in life. Keep a postive attitude and follow your heart.”