Everest climber inspires youngsters

Mike Read, at right, with Scouts from Ashburton Scout Group exploring some of the equipment used during his mountaineering adventures.

Mike Read has been influencing the next generation of adventurers.

The Hinds farmer, is also a keen adventurer, and most recently has been taking on the seven summits of the world; an organised mountaineering adventure with others taking on seven of the highest peaks on each continent around the world.

He has done five but covid has stopped him climbing the last two; Vinson Massif (Antarctica) and Puncak Jaya or Carstensz Pyramid (Papua New Guinea).

Mike shared candid stories about his 2018 climb to Mt Everest, the highest mountain in the world, this week to Ashburton Scouts, their leaders and parents at Mania-O-Roto Scout Park.

He showed the scouts photos and video footage, and also had some of his survival kit with him, including his most trusty piece of equipment – his axe.

And explained some of the challenges of living for two and half months at high altitude, the affect of the lack of oxygen on the body and around decision making, clothing needs, and diet and toiletry requirements in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees at night, and as high as 40 degrees by day.

It took two weeks to walk to base camp, the equivalent distance from Ashburton to Christchurch, which allowed the body to acclimatise to living at high altitude, he said.

One of the side effects of being at high altitude was a lack of appetite – the digestive system slowed down, and you had to force yourself to eat, he said.

Mike lived on Jelly Babies, which was the only sugary thing he could eat at the time but now he can not stand to look at them.

He started the climb weighing 80kg, and by the time he finished he weighed 63kg.

“Our muscles and our body, starts deteriorating quite fast. As we get higher (up the mountain) our bodies actually start dying, we can’t be at the altitudes that we are for too long.”

The mountain is unforgiving, he said.

There were seven deaths on the mountain during the 2018 climbing season.

Mike, 36, has traversed through blizzards on the Denali mountain range in Alaska, which is more than 6000m above sea level (almost twice the height of Aoraki/Mt Cook), crossed the tropical grasslands of the African Savanna, crossed deserts, lived in jungles and made friends from around the world.

“When I was a cub and scout I used to dream about going around the world and doing awesome cool stuff,” he said.

He started his adult life working on the family arable and horticulture farm and one day, sitting on the tractor, realised he had not fulfilled his childhood dream.

He took the leap and booked in his first adventure.

It was 2013 and he has not looked back.