Manitoba teacher returns from Everest climb that killed 2 other people

A Manitoba teacher achieved his dream of reaching the summit of Mount Everest last week, but two of the six people he went up with didn't make it back down.

'It's not a joke. It takes people's lives,' Dalip Shekhawat says after summitting May 16

Dalip Shekhawat reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 16. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

A Manitoba teacher achieved his dream of reaching the summit of Mount Everest last week, but two of the six people he went up with didn't make it back down.

Dalip Shekhawat, 43, a special education teacher at St. Amant, made the climb to raise money for the St. Amant Foundation, which funds programs at the non-profit facility that provides resources for Manitobans with developmental disabilities and autism.

Shekhawat reached the summit, 8.85 kilometres above sea level, on May 16, after four days of a gruelling, freezing climb. He hiked six hours a day for 50 to 60 days to complete the trip.

"It's like a dream come true," he said to Information Radio host Marcy Markusa, speaking on the phone from his hometown in Pilani, India.

"I've waited for this, I trained for this for so long. I sacrificed so much during the course."

His toes still feel numb from frostbite and there wasn't much time to enjoy the view when he reached the summit, Shekhawat said. He just took his photos and started the trek back down to Camp 2.

"I didn't see what was around — just to reach the top and when I get back, I'll see what was there," he said.

"Not enjoying, actually; just to reach the top, to make sure that I'm safe and secure."

In this March 7, 2016, file photo, Mount Everest, centre, is seen on the way to base camp. (Tashi Sherpa/Associated Press)

Shekhawat trained three years for the climb, aware of the dangers facing those who attempt to reach the top of the world's tallest mountain.

Before embarking on the climb, he stopped in to visit with his dad, who lives in Pilani, just in case he didn't make it back.

"It's not a joke. It takes people's lives," he said.

2 climbers die on return

In fact, two of the six people in Shekhawat's group who made it to the peak died on their way down.

One died of fatigue-related medical problems, which Shekhawat suspects was a result of a lack of training.

The person stopped to rest in the "death zone," Shekhawat said, referring to the area above 8,000 metres where oxygen becomes too thin for humans to breathe.

In the other fatal incident, a climber didn't properly secure a rope and fell.

Despite the tragedy, Shekhawat said he feels proud of his accomplishment, and he's not the only one. His father is holding a party to celebrate his son and inviting all of his friends.

"My dad, I think he's the most proudest person," said Shekhawat. "Being a soldier, it's my dad's favourite thing to discuss now. He's on cloud nine."

Shekhawat's wife had a different reaction to the news he'd made it safely down, he said.

"She burst into tears and she's like, 'Don't go anywhere, now. You just have to settle down now. Enough. You know, take care of the kids and all other responsibilities," Shekhawat said. "So I think I have to be more family-oriented now."

Shekhawat has climbed 15 other mountains.

On the Everest climb, he carried a St. Amant flag, as well as a flag for the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, a reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces to which he belongs.

With files from Aviva Jacob


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