Pretoria man becomes the youngest South African to summit Everest, all for a good cause.

Mount Everest

After a lifetime of dreaming, hard work, determination and one failed attempt, a young South African man has become the youngest South African to summit Everest.

Mount Everest is literally located at the top of the world, rising 29,035 feet (8850 meters) above sea level. As soon as it was crowned the world’s tallest mountain, people inevitably had to climb it. And just as inevitably, many of them failed. While more than 2,200 people have succeeded, nearly 200 have lost their lives attempting the climb.

Most climbers attempt Everest during April and May. In the winter, low temperat­ures and hurricane force winds make climbing difficult. Between June and September, summer monsoons create intense storms and violent precipitation.

From home and back again, most trips to the top over Everest take about two and a half months.

Lysle Turner, 26, started his journey to the top of the world from the day he was born. He always knew he wanted to climb Everest, not just for himself but in the name of those that have Huntington’s disease.

Mount Everest Lysle Turner 03

For 4 generations, his family had suffered from the disease and his main focus in life would be to find a way to end it.

He officially started his climb on the 3 April 2015 but it ended too soon when he found himself in the midst of a Massive earthquake.

During the afternoon of 25 April 2015, a 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal and surrounding countries. Shaking from the quake triggered an avalanche from Pumori into the basecamp on Mount Everest. At least twenty-two people were killed, surpassing an avalanche that occurred the previous year as the deadliest disaster on the mountain.

Turner had just returned to base on the Nepalese side of Everest when the quake happened.

The team heard the noise from the earthquake and ran at first opportunity to safety. Turner then started helping with rescue missions to recover other climbers who were still on the mountain.

“There is chaos in the camp. Many climbers are missing and many are hurt. We are searching for survivors,” he said in a Facebook post.

One of the climbers capturing the harrowing footage of the avalanche.

As a result, it was later announced the closure of routes over the icefall for the remainder of the season, the second consecutive year that the mountain has been closed due to avalanches.

For the first time in 41 years, no one summited the mountain that year.

But even though Turner had found himself at the heart of the tragedy, he knew that he couldn’t give up on his dream. The mountaineer made his way back to Everest earlier this year to attempt another summit.

“It only seemed like yesterday that we were providing reports on Lysle’s epic adventure from Everest in 2015. What a journey that was. From a gang of wild stampeding horses to the devastating earthquakes that tragically claimed the lives of a number of climbers, it was an emotional roller coaster.”

“For all of us that know Lysle, we knew he would be back to finish the job the second he landed back on home soil.”

“He has not only had to overcome some personal demons from what was no doubt a traumatic experience. He yet again shows great courage and determination to return.”

He officially started his second climb on the 2nd April 2016 and on the 19th of May, 51 days later… Turner stood on top of the world at 3:30am.

Mount Everest Lysle Turner 04

With him, he carried a flag with names of many who have lost their lives to Huntington’s disease. Also becoming the youngest South African to summit Mount Everest.

“Where do I even begin,I could not quite fathom the reach of nearly 100 000 people when the announcement was made that I had stood on top of the world. The support from people on this page has been incredible. For something that means so much to me to mean something to others feels so special. I have not yet gone through all the messages and will hopefully be in touch with everyone to show my thanks.”

“To be honest the feeling has not sunk in yet, I think it will take some time and is an experience that I will draw from throughout life.”

“I am excited to enter a new chapter of my life. My urge for adventure and why I do it will never stop but for now a few additional business passion projects will be priority and at the level of intense focus and obsession, the same dream as Mount Everest was for me.”

Turner was humbled through the experience of the last two years, he had survived a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and the massive avalanche that followed.

“Having survived that I was very lucky and thankful but I knew that very moment that I had to plan to get back the following year no matter what. That year, last year was a roller coaster to ensure I would make it back.”

The young mountaineer expressed that the years of physical preparation and financial preparation was an Everest in itself, he had often said that getting to Mount Everest at a young age is extremely difficult as you had not even started the “race” yet.

For Turner, the consequence of not going back was always much greater than ever going back. He saw the adversity one goes through as a privilege when linked with a positive outlook.

“On summit night didn’t clip into the fixed rope initially and was fortunate enough to pass many climbers just out of camp 4. I got stuck behind people just below the balcony and couldn’t risk unclipping to pass but as we reached the balcony I could pass while other climbers stopped for a break.”

“This enabled me to climb at my own pace and away from the crowds.”

“That night was an amazing experience as my Sherpa pasang nima and I had the mountain all to ourselves after the balcony.”

It look them 7 hours, Turner knew that he could leave camp 4 much later but couldn’t risk the crowds on the fixed rope.

He didn’t have to push so hard as he knew all the traffic he had to pass coming down and had also seen lightning towards kathmandu so was concerned that there would be bad weather on the way down.

“The last small section up to the summit is un-roped, it was pitch black, the wind was gusting and for a second I was very uncomfortable and willing to turn if the wind blew any harder, or wait a while but that wasn’t an option cause my right eye felt like it was starting to freeze.”

“I was down past the south summit before the sun came up and the journey down started.”

The section between summit and south summit would have been incredibly difficult. Knife edge ridges make these sections really intimidating in the dark.

“The sun came up and it was pretty clear, I just didn’t think it would turn out that way with the lightning I saw during the summit attempt.”

Arriving back at camp 4, Turner had some coffee and immediately started the descent to camp 2. That night at camp 2 the radio woke him up from a team member at camp 4 saying another member had High altitude pulmonary edema and high altitude cerebral edema and was critical.

“Throughout the entire trip my power was spending time with people on the flag.”

“I had memorized every single name and if there was ever a nervous moment I would repeat the names over and over in my head.”

“Reflecting on the times with the people I was luckily enough to meet. Also reflecting on stories that people had told me about their family members. All the years of preparation and emotion I had expected it to come out when I reached the summit but the fact that I wouldn’t feel comfortable until I was completely off the mountain made my stay on the summit brief but still extremely special.”

“A time I will always cherish.”

And even though Turner reached the top of the world to become the youngest South African to ever do so, he attributes it only to everyone affected by Huntington’s Disease.

“If climbing Everest was just for me i don’t think I would ever have set foot on the mountain. Climbing Mount Everest was a calling to do something, a calling to continue with my life purpose bringing about awareness to Huntington’s Disease.”

“To shout from on top of the world that Huntington’s Disease must be no more.”

“Something that I could put myself through for people who are fighting the fight and those who have lost the fight. You were all with me every single step of the way.”

“I can’t live my life, I can’t wake up every morning if I am not doing something to bring about awareness to Huntington’s Disease and the community.”

“For four generations Huntington’s Disease has littered my family and nearly 200 years later , my generation of children are the first to be free.”

“But even here as I stand at nearly 30 000 feet that does not change my outlook.”

“Four years ago when I started my foundation I never knew which way the coin would fall for me, what I did know is that gene positive or negative that doing my small bit would be my lifelong commitment.”

“I may be gene negative but not a day goes by when I’m not grateful, and not a day goes by where I won’t try fight for a cure for Huntington’s Disease family members.”

“So join me as I scream from on top of the world to cure Huntington’s Disease.”

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens.

Facebook Comments

The Good Things Guy
Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy. Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *