Calgary

Calgarian becomes one of oldest Canadians to summit Mount Everest

John Oldring, who served as a member of the legislature from 1986 to 1993 after spending more than a decade on Red Deer city council, accomplished the feat on May 25.

Former MLA John Oldring was foiled in his 1st attempt at the top of the world by earthquake

Mountaineers walk past the Hillary Step while pushing for the summit of Mount Everest as they climb the south face from Nepal. John Oldring, not pictured, reached the summit at the age of 64. (Pemba Dorje Sherpa/STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A former Alberta politician has become the one of the oldest Canadians to summit Mount Everest.

John Oldring, who served as a member of the legislature from 1986 to 1993 after spending more than a decade on Red Deer city council, accomplished the feat on May 25.

"We probably had one of the best days of the year to summit on," Oldring, 64, told the Red Deer Advocate.

He said they could see the curvature of the Earth through clear, blue skies from the world's highest mountain top. His team had originally planned to reach the peak on May 26, which turned out to be a cloudy day for other climbers.

"They didn't have any visibility. It was flat. They couldn't stand on the top of Everest and see the other mountains."

1st attempt foiled by quake

It was the second Everest attempt for the Calgary resident. In 2015, his team was climbing the treacherous Khumbu Icefall on the Nepali slopes of Mount Everest when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal and left them in a total whiteout.

The eight-member team survived, but down at base camp at least 22 people died and several were injured.

Although the quake left many others with post-traumatic stress disorder, Oldring didn't hesitate to try again.

"I hadn't reached the summit yet. The job wasn't done."

He said seven people have died so far this year on Everest. His team saw four bodies brought down the mountain and passed another body still in the snow.

"I'd stop and say a quick prayer for them and their families. Then I'd say a quick prayer for me and keep on going."

'It was fabulous'

His team reached the summit at 8:15 a.m. after a nine-hour climb from Camp Four, then spent about 15 minutes on top of the world.

"It was fabulous. Everest is so big. You just can't appreciate the scale at all. It's truly amazing."

But they also knew the peak was a death zone, he said.

"We had no urgency time-wise. We climbed so quickly. But on the other hand you always have to remind yourself a successful climb is getting down the mountain, not just getting up it, so you don't spend a lot of time up there."

It wasn't until he came down that he found out he was the oldest Canadian to summit Everest.

"Any climb that I've been on, I always known I'll be oldest. My theory is I make sure I always train the hardest, train the smartest and climb as smart and efficiently as I can. I don't want to be the person who holds the team back and I never have been."

Record holders

Oldring was just shy of being the oldest Canadian to accomplish the summit. Werner Berger from Ontario made it to the top of the world in 2007 at the age of 69.

The oldest person to climb Everest is Yuichiro Miura of Japan, who reached the summit in 2013 at the age of 80.

Just this month, 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan from Nepal died while trying to regain the title. He had managed to summit the mountain in 2008 when he was 76.

With files from CBC News

now