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Home > General
 
Dubai-based climber returns after scaling Mount Everest

Chris Hough / 26 May 2012

DUBAI - In just a matter of days Atte Miettinen has gone from standing at the summit of the world’s tallest mountain to staring up at the world’s tallest building.

The Dubai-based climber reached the top of Mount Everest on Saturday, May 19. By Wednesday he was back home with his wife in Dubai, reflecting on his achievement.

He also had his first chance to consider how lucky he was to make it down from Everest on a day that claimed the lives of four climbers.

“It comes into perspective now that I’m back in Dubai. It gives me a chance to reflect, also on some sad stories,” Miettinen told Khaleej Times.

The weather on Mount Everest is always unpredictable, but a chain of events led to Saturday being one of the most deadly days ever recorded on the mountain.

“It turned out to be the second deadliest day on Everest. It really makes you count your lucky stars and feel lucky to be back safe and sound,” said Miettinen.

“Two things contributed to it being such a deadly day. The first thing was the weather. It’s always difficult to predict the weather on Everest but the forecast was completely incorrect. They promised that it would be about -25C with no wind, which is ideal. When we got to the summit it was actually -40 with 40-60kph winds, which was very heavy. This made it very difficult and slowed people down, which led to cold-related problems like frostbite.

“The other problem was that the weather window was closing. A weather window in early-May was lost, so lots of people were waiting and the forecast on the day I climbed was good. So there were 200 people at the same time trying to reach the summit. This led to long queues and waiting around. Luckily, we left earlier than the masses. Those who had to wait were penalised. When you are stuck on the mountain, hanging around for an hour, an hour and a half, in very cold temperatures and when your oxygen runs out, then you’re in serious trouble.”

Despite the trial and tribulations he went through on the Everest, Miettinen has only a few weeks to recover before his next challenge. The Finnish national is attempting to complete the ‘Seven Summits’ challenge. So far he has conquered six of the world’s tallest mountains with just Denali in Alaska to go. He travels to the US on June 7.

“I only have two weeks before going to Alaska to climb Denali. It’s very little time to recover, and in just two months at Everest I dropped over 10 kilos in weight. So this is now the time to relax, eat as much as possible and prepare mentally.

“Denali is a lower mountain so is slightly easier than Everest in that respect. But to get there is much more difficult. At Everest you can walk to base camp but at Denali you have to put on snowshoes and trek through deep snow towing a heavy sled behind you. It’s going to be very physically demanding.”

Despite the dangers faced on Everest, Miettinen is not underestimating the less famous Denali.

“Denali is also very dangerous. About the same number die each year on Denali as on Everest. It’s very cold, there are deep crevasses - so it is not a walk in the park.”

Although reluctant to look too far ahead, Miettinen has other ambitions beyond the iconic ‘Seven Summits’ challenge.

“I’m focusing on the current task at hand. But one day I’d like to ski to both poles, and of course there are other mountains to climb.”

 chris@khaleejtimes.com

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