Professor recounts his experience climbing Mount Everest

Kevin Allen

Climbing Mount Everest is something most people will never be able to experience, but one man who did took an audience along through his climb to the top of the world.

John All, associate professor of geography, climbed to the summit of Mount Everest in April 2010, and Thursday night, he gave a presentation of the trip as part of the “Far Away Places” series at Barnes and Noble.

He documented the dangers of climbing Mount Everest, such as avalanches, sudden blizzards, winds up to 100 mph and sheer cliffs thousands of feet tall.

“I had my WKU hat until about 7,200 meters,” All said. “Then it got blown off and fell five miles straight down.”

He also recounted his experience in what he called the “Death Zone” above 7,600 meters.

“It’s like you’re Frosty the Snowman and you’re melting,” All said. “You feel every cell in your body dying. I don’t know how to describe it.”

The snowman analogy is apt because All said when the sun was out, it could become so warm that climbers would walk around in t-shirts, even at the summit. Then, when it was night or cloudy, temperatures would fall to as low as 40 degrees below zero.

All said the most shocking part of the ascent for him was when he saw the path dotted with the bodies of climbers who had died, because after a height of 8,000 meters, no one will go to retrieve them.

That resonated with Bowling Green sophomore Hanna Preslar, who had an entirely new appreciation of what climbing Mount Everest means.

“Some people die when they climb up, but you never think that they die and stay there,” Preslar said. “It makes you think about if they keep track of who died or if they contact the family.”

The pictures of All at the summit, so high that the sky is black, looking down at the Himalayas inspired Nashville junior Alyssia Fuller.

“The mental and physical combination necessary for this really impressed me,” Fuller said. “It just takes a special type of person to do this and I’m really glad they did this so I can hear about it.”

“Far Away Places” is a monthly series at Barnes and Noble, and the next one will be April 17th.