Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Base camp climb a dream feeling for Moama grandfather

Moama grandfather Barry Cox succesfully completed a 103km mountain climb to Everest Base Camp as part of the World’s Highest Shave last month.

IVY WISE April 29, 2014 3:44am

Barry Cox and one of his climbing partners.

Standing more than 5000m above sea level, watching the sun rise over Mt Everest, Barry Cox felt a sense of achievement wash over him.

The Moama grandfather braved two weeks of freezing temperatures, breathing difficulties, altitude problems and a gruelling 103km mountain climb to make it to Mt Everest Base Camp as part of the World’s Highest Shave last month.

The 71-year-old recently returned home from the trek, in a healthier state than many of his team-mates; only suffering a slight chest infection.

‘‘Of the 18 of us, four had to be medevaced (medical evacuation) out,’’ he said.

‘‘One rolled her ankle and tore some ligaments and the other three had altitude sickness and were hospitalised for between three and five days.

‘‘I was the oldest one and besides a chest infection, I had nothing wrong with me, so I got labelled a ‘tough old bastard’.’’

Mr Cox said daily 10km walks with a 10kg backpack, gym sessions and walking up and down Victoria Park grandstand’s steps 80 times every Sunday, had prepared him well, but the trek was by no means easy.

‘‘It tested me right to the limits,’’ he said.

‘‘The 400m climb up to the suspension bridge, I had breathing difficulties because of the altitude.

‘‘There were times I thought: ‘Am I going to be able to do this?’

‘‘I was confident in my fitness, but I was struggling to breathe at times.

‘‘The altitude does test you.’’

The cold was also a challenge, with temperatures dropping down to -18°C at some points.

Joined by his son Stephan, Mr Cox described the feeling of reaching base camp as ‘‘absolutely awesome’’.

‘‘It was an unreal feeling to see it and to say I’ve done it,’’ he said.

‘‘The views are just amazing. It’s a dream feeling.’’

Reflecting on his experience, Mr Cox said watching the sun rise over Mt Everest was a highlight, but also made him realise how close he was to where an avalanche killed 16 Sherpa guides two weeks later.

‘‘They are such lovely, beautiful-natured people and it makes me feel sad that these people who you associated with just two weeks before, a lot of them died,’’ he said.

Mr Cox said as of last week, his team had raised almost $50,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation.

‘‘I’d like to thank all those who supported me and Echuca Lions Club, Murray River Chiropractic Centre and Moama Village Pharmacy for sponsoring me,’’ he said.

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