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Achieving the Unachievable: Tim Macartney-Snape’s sea to summit


In 1984, Tim Macartney-Snape became the first Australian to achieve a feat few humans can claim to have accomplished, climbing Mt Everest without oxygen.

With climbing partner Greg Mortimer by his side, this extraordinary accomplishment was all the more notable because the pair scaled the summit via a new route along the North Face.

In 1990, buoyed by the prospect of achieving the as yet unachieved, Macartney-Snape became the first person to hike from sea level and climb to the top of Mt Everest. Unaided by external oxygen tanks, and unassisted by sherpas, Macartney-Snape first hiked for 1200km from the Bay of Bengal to Everest base camp.

“Having done Everest, I certainly had no ambition to go back there, but I was curious to know just how it would be to be on a mountain on your own,” Tim Macartney-Snape tells David Morrow and Mathew Thompson on Heroes – Legends of Australian Sport.

“But then someone suggested to me that I hadn’t climbed Everest properly because to do so would mean to climb it from sea level, and I said ‘oh yeah, but that’s just being pedantic,’

“But the more I thought about that notion, the more I thought ‘well actually, it would be a complete story’, and I thought it would be a nice journey to make, to start in the tropics down in the Bay of Bengal, and walk through the Gangetic plain, up into the foothills of Nepal and then to the south side of Everest before continuing to the summit,

“I decided to climb the mountain alone, as much as I could without oxygen again, because the thing is that altitude is not good for your brain but if you’re careful, you can get away with it,

“Using oxygen complicates things enormously, you need people to help you, it’s impossible to do it on your own with oxygen,

“I had this plan to climb the west ridge which is a much more difficult route than the normal route on the south side… but in the end, I didn’t do the West Ridge…

Click PLAY to hear Tim Macartney-Snape’s extraordinary tale: