Jules Mountain Interview taken in 2018
British climber Jules Mountain survived the devastating earthquake while at Mount Everest Base Camp in 2015. He decided to go back in 2016 and this time he reached the summit on the 13th May.
In the past you had suffered from Cancer, liver failure, a damaged spine and broken bones. What made you decide to climb Mount Everest?
I had 5 months of chemo for my cancer and I heard that it makes the fingers and toes tingle & less sensitive – presumably due to reduced blood flow. As I gradually recovered I wanted to prove to myself that I could still do anything that I could do before and I wanted to prove to myself that extreme adventures were still possible
What did your family and friends think about your decession to climb the highest mountain in the world?
They thought I was mad (laugh). Except my bother – he knows me well. He just said “Ju, that’s great – go for it”. My father was very concerned as any parent would be. I have done a lot of (crazy) adventurous trips before & I know he worries that one day I will push it too far, and he was nearly right.
In 2015 you were at Everest Base Camp when the devastating earthquake happened. What was going through your mind during this terrible time?
I felt the ground shake and jumped up out of my tent – I saw the 2 polish climbers looking up at the sky – I looked up and saw the whole sky filled with snow rushing towards us. I thought can I run over the ice & rocks, but I was just in my socks so no change, then in a split second I dived back in my tent and buried my head in my sleeping bag and thermo rest…. then the avalanche hit. I remember thinking if the avalanche picks up my tent it will blow me into the lake behind the expedition camp and I’ll be like one of those
American movies where I’m all tangled up in the tent canvas and ropes trying to swim to the surface. Really weird what goes through your mind at times like that. The avalanche hit, the tent rocked violent but stayed but. I was buried in the snow but managed to push my way out.
Having survived the earthquake in 2015 you went back to the mountain a year later. Didn’t what you saw during the earthquake put you off from going back?
Everest is very addictive, and it attracts driven people with addictive personalities. The Nepalese authorities said any climber their in 2015 could re-use their Everest permits ($11,000 – not a cheap climb) in 2016 or 2017. So I new I would have to go back one of those years so I decided to do it straight away in 2016. I was nervous walking into Base Camp again & wondered how I would feel after the terrible scenes I had seen the previous year! Luckily I settled in after a few days.
On the 13th May 2016 you reached the summit of Mount Everest. What was it like standing on top of the world?
The best feeling was after leaving camp 4 and climbing for 6 hours up the ridge with no view of the top, then creating the ridge and realising I was not far off and was going to make it – the feeling was amazing & I couldn’t wait to tell my daughters that Dad had made it to the top of Everest.
When I actually got there it is a v unassuming mound and I was so tired I shook hands with 3 people from another expedition sitting there and then just slumped down and waited for the members of my expedition to arrive
If you could redesign one piece of clothing or gear used on Mount Everest which would it be and why?
The tents at Base Camp – they are provided by the expedition & they are like 2 man tents from Halfords that you put up for the kids in the back garden, they were awful. I’m 6.3ft so could barely lie cross ways in mine & couldn’t sit up.
Was there anywhere on the mountain that you had to wait in a queue?
In 2016 we were the first expedition to go and it was a 3 day clear weather window so you had to be quick to get up from Base Camp and back down in 3 days, so not many people went. Hence there were no queues.
Apart from your excellent book ‘Aftershock’, do you have a favourite book relating to Mount Everest?
I like Beck Weathers book because it echo’s the ethos of my book “Aftershock” – just tell it how it is warts & all – and it makes a much better and real story.
Had your climb on Mount Everest been what you had expected or was it easier or harder?
It was a great adventure, and I loved it. The scenery
How did you find crossing a large deep crevasse via a ladder in the Ice Fall?
It’s mass hysteria on Everest – everybody’s doing it so it’s normal and you just get on with it. If think if one was faced with the same crevasse & ladder in Chamonix it would be a different matter & a lot more thought.
Name one climber (dead or alive) that you most admire and why?
Reinhold Messner – the first guy to summit all 14 8000m+ peaks.
Do you think that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine climbed the Second Step?
Mallory stated that he would leave the photo of his wife on the summit & he didn’t have the photo on him when they found him in 1999 so if he reached the summit he must have climber the Hilary step. But he broke his leg and lay their dying on Everest & the most likely thing is he took the picture of his wife out of his pocket. So did he climb the Hilary step & make the summit – I don’t know.
If you would like to find out more about Jules Mountain then head over to his website at www.julesmountain.co.uk