“The EGO seeks the summit, the soul seeks the CLIMB”
Talking about Elite Mountaineers in Lebanon? Avedis Kalpaklian “#Mountainguru” is on top of the list. 70+ mountains under his belt and counting, 6 of the seven summits challenges and recently summited 2 of the 14 x 8000ers on earth. On May 23rd, 2019 at around 5:05am “Avo” stood on the highest point a mountaineer can reach on earth, the Summit of Mt Everest adding it to the top of his list just above Mt Manaslu (8163m); the 8th highest mountain on earth.
May 23rd was a glorious day for the “Lebanese mountaineering society” as 5 Lebanese made it to the summit of Mt Everest and so was September 27th when Avedis made it to the summit of Mt Manaslu along with Khodor Ghadban his DELTA team partner in order to raise awareness against the risks of drugs. Climbing Manaslu was the highlight of the 3 years mountaineering campaign “hike and climb against drugs” launched by Delta Association.
In this edition, the editors decided to Honor Avedis, highlight his great achievements and spot the light on his journey to the top of the world.
Disaster Management Coordinator (Keserwan) and member of the national intervention team at the Lebanese red-cross, a marathon runner and co-founder of the Lebanese Climbing Association, POLY-LIBAN and Team Lebanon, the mountain guru will speak about his Everest & Manaslu climbs:
During the hardest moment on the mountain, what was the one thought that kept you going?
On the last rotation, an hour after leaving base camp I felt big discomfort and decided to go back, I was extremely tired and taking ages to reach the camp again; I thought that life is more important than the summit. Few hours later, I felt better and the chat with our expedition leader made me feel humbler; I lost my EGO and an unusual strength overtook me and was able to use it wisely the next day to make the climb a successful and rewarding one.
The funniest story that happened on Everest? On the morning of May 23rd, I was the 1st from the south side. Minutes from reaching the summit I saw many white figures or statues; I was not sure what they were and I was extremely tired and lacking oxygen. Yetis? Aliens? Moments later, I made it to the summit and realized they were summiteers from the North side.
What’s your next big Dream / challenge? The time stopped! I have just reached the top of the world, a euphoric moment blended with a sense of achievement for Lebanon, history has been made again, we are now 7 Lebanese climbers to reach the summit of Everest. My 70+ mountains have been crowned with the mother of all climbs, yet while it’s the end of a project for most climbers, it’s a new beginning for me. The 14 8000ers are my next big dream.
What are the sponsorship issues in this field? Unfortunately, climbers and mountaineers can’t find support here in Lebanon even though on a personal level, every 8000er I climb will be considered a record for Lebanon & Armenia.
- Double Aconcagua summits (the highest peak in South America 6962m) in 2017 & as a team leader in 2018 for the back to back expedition on Aconcagua and Ojos del Salado (the highest peak in Chile & the highest active volcano on earth).
- Climbed 4 of the 7 summits in 4 months in 2018.
- In June 2018 Avedis climbed Mt Denali – Alaska (the highest peak in North America – 6190m) unguided, unsupported and unassisted with his partner Michael Chamoun.
- Spaghetti tour: Avedis & his Partner Lindos Daou climbed 15 x 4000m+ peaks in 7 days in the Swiss & Italian Alps.
- Everest & Manaslu: in 2019, Avedis climbed 2 x 8000ers in 4 months (Everest May 2019 and Manaslu September 2019).