Stephen Bock Interview taken in 2014
On the 23rd May 2010 Australian climber Stephen Bock reached the summit of Mount Everest.
How old were you when you first a) knew what Everest was and b) wanted to climb it? (This was asked by my Facebook friend Linda Wales).
I had decided to climb Everest when I was in primary school and it has been on my ‘goals lists’ to do it by the age of 40. (I’ve been keeping goals lists since about 15. So I guess it became very important to me from probably about the age of 8 or so.
When you decided to climb Everest what were your reasons for it? (This was asked by my Facebook friend Khurram Rajpoot).
I am not sure when I was 8 or so originally but I can tell you that as a teenager it became a symbol of my ultimate test. I knew it wasn’t negotiable for me….I needed to know the answer to the question “could I?”. It became a burning passion as each year progressed.
Stephen in terms of your summit climb on Everest, were you conscious of the history of the route you took, dating to early 1950’s?
Absolutely. I think any Everest summiteer would have done all the research, read every book, watched every documentary ever produced?
Do you have any other 8000m aspirations and what about K2? (This was asked by my Facebook friend Ronnie Muhl).
No. I have a specific list of goals set for the next 20 years of my life. It’s already a big list of key experiences very important to me J
Aside from all the expedition equipment, what was the single most important piece of personal equipment he had with you? Also how worried were you that you hadn’t climbed for such a long time when the opportunity to climb Everest came up? (This was asked by my Facebook friend Paul Arnold).
My journal that I was writing in daily. It also had some photos and some very important messages from my daughter Georgia and partner Sandy. It contains some inspirational quotes etc. This is what I referred to daily to keep myself ‘on track’
I know you spend a lot of time during the week training to keep yourself fit and healthy, what sort of things do you do to help keep yourself motivated to train hard week in and week out? (This was asked by my Facebook friend Darryn Osborn)
Every morning I have a ‘ritual’ I go through starting at 4am to get myself into peak state. There are things I review each morning (with specific outcomes) one of those things is my ’20 year’ list I referred to earlier, I listen to a certain things each morning and training is simply part of my ritual. My aim is simple….to do the very best I can each day. To give maximum intensity each day towards my goals and helping people achieve theirs. To learn from each day and grow.
Coming from Australia where the hot weather is well known, just how difficult is it to acclimatise to Everest conditions for someone more used to a land of drought and bushfires compared to British climbers for example?
I don’t think climate is important but rather mental conditioning (and physical obviously). You need to condition yourself to operate outside of your comfort zone. The training we did was all about getting extremely uncomfortable and holding ourselves in that state for as long as possible. Cold weather/ tough conditions are just a part of being able to ‘endure’ in uncomfortable situations.
Out of interest Stephen, once on the summit, did you have a look down toward the North East or West Ridges and if so what were your impressions?
Both actually. I didn’t really have any as by that point my mind was in a very focused (survival) state. Eg Whats the weather doing? Whats my body doing? What do I need to do to get back down alive? I spent a little time taking in the view – you are left with no doubt though that you are on the highest point on the planet though J I felt very priviledged to spend some time there but my mind quickly reverted to that ‘survival’ mode.
What are your views on the degree in which modern clothing and equipment are making climbing easier which may give those who are ill prepared a false sense of security previous generations of climbers may not have experienced?
I think that modern advances in clothing, weather technology etc are fantastic. The technology advances are assisting survival rates. I didn’t meet any people who believed that climbing Everest would be any easier as a consequence though. Everyone I met understood the challenge and had trained and planned mentally (most for many, many years) for the climb of their life. Everyone who goes to Everest (from my experience) understands that they will be pushed to extremes they have never experienced before and it will take extreme focus, determination, luck with conditions etc to even get close to the summit. Their nice downsuit is along way down their list of focus points J
How did you decide who to climb with? What were you looking for in an expedition leader? (This was asked by my Facebook friend Kate Smith).
I climbed with Ronnie Muhl through our company Adventures Global.
In terms of the ongoing Mallory and Irvine mystery, speaking generally, does a significant rock step such as the Hillary step (or the second step on the North East Ridge), deter or pose a special bother for a climber when confronting it for the first time?
I can only comment on the Hillary Step (Ronnie has experience with the Second Step). My experience at the Hillary Step was that it was just another challenge in a line of 60 days of challenges. By the time I reached the Hillary Step I was in such a focused state that I don’t think it mattered too much. I personally like any challenge I have a sense that I can control (eg I can focus on climbing carefully). I personally found the icefall more challenging as it was more like a game of ‘Russian Roulette’ with VERY high stakes that I didn’t have control over.
What was your reception like when you got back to Australia, did you receive any well deserved recognition or not? (This was asked by my Facebook friend Klutzy Elo).
Yes, we were fortunate to have a lot of media exposure in our lead up to the expedition and that continued when we arrived home.
With Ronnie Muhl you own and run Adventures Global, how did that start out and is business good at the moment?
Ronnie had been running the business successfully for many years before I became involved (I am sure he would love to share his story). It became obvious that we should be more involved together as we share a passion for the outdoors but more importantly we share a passion to help people achieve their dreams and we understand that flexibility in business (by way of flexibility in our trips) to do that is important. I think too many companies try and ‘squeeze’ their clients into their business model. Business each year keeps growing and mainly due to repeat and referral business from clients who have used us. Our hope is to become trusted as someone’s ‘adventure’ partner for their lifetime.
Do you think that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine climbed the Second Step?
I have heard the arguments and I really just don’t know. The mystery will probably always be there….
If you would like to find out more about Stephen then please pay a visit to his website at www.adventuresglobal.net