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Andrew locks in peak achievement -

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Andrew locks in peak achievement

The World Today - Thursday, 12 March , 2009 13:58:00

Reporter: Kathryn Roberts

ELEANOR HALL: Some say he's crazy, others that he's courageous.

On Sunday Canberra based mountaineer Andrew Lock will leave Australia for Tibet where he plans to
tackle Mount Shishapangma.

If he reaches the 8,000 metre summit, he'll be the first Australian to have climbed all of the
world's 14 highest peaks.

But it's his plans to climb Mount Everest for the third time straight after his Tibet expedition
that have raised the most concern.

He'll take on the deadly mountain alone and without oxygen and via a rarely trekked route.

Kathryn Roberts caught up with Andrew Lock in Canberra as he prepared to leave for the Himalayas.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: Some people would say that you're crazy. Some would say you're courageous. How do
you characterise yourself?

ANDREW LOCK: Well I don't. Mountain climbing, high altitude mountain climbing is my passion, it's
something I've been doing for many, many years and from the very first day I set foot in the
outdoors let alone the mountains I absolutely loved it.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: Your next adventure is Mount Shishapangma which is about 8,027 metres high to be
precise. How technically difficult are you expecting that climb to be?

ANDREW LOCK: Shishapangma is a funny mountain. It, by 8,000 metre standards, is a relatively benign
up to the false summit. And the false summit is about 8,000 metres, so only 20 metres or so lower
than the true summit. But to get from the false summit to the true summit is very, very technical.
It's dangerous because of avalanches and cornices which are ice cliffs that break off.

And I've twice before been to the false summit of this mountain but I didn't consider that I'd
climbed the mountain. I'd just been close and had to make a choice about survival or going on.

So for me to complete the project, particularly to complete the project to climb all 14
eight-thousanders I need to stand on the true summit.

KATRYN ROBERTS: You've reached the summit of Mount Everest twice now and you plan to do the climb
again straight after Mount Shishapangma but this time you're planning to attempt it alone, without
oxygen and taking the traverse route. People die climbing Everest. Are you trying to prove
something to yourself?

ANDREW LOCK: I'm not trying to prove something to myself but I am trying to learn about myself. I
have climbed all the other 8,000 metre peaks without auxiliary oxygen. Both times I summated on
Mount Everest I used oxygen for various logistical reasons so I'd just like to be able to finish
the project with an ascent of Everest without oxygen.

Now to do the traverse - which means climbing from one side to the summit and then descending into
unknown territory on the other side - that's an added degree of complexity and challenge. And again
it makes it worthwhile because I know I can climb up one side and come back down the same side.
I've done that a couple of times.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: That particular route, the traverse, hasn't been done terribly often before.

ANDREW LOCK: No, the traverse is very rarely done. I would say it's probably been done about three
times in its history and really the big challenge here has a physical aspect to it but more than
anything else it's that psychological aspect. It will be very, very lonely up there and I'll be
right out on my own. So it's fear management, it's risk management, it's psychological motivation
to push through those fears and keep on going.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: And do you actually feel fear and how often do you feel fear when you're
undertaking these types of challenges?

ANDREW LOCK: I definitely do feel it and almost every expedition there will be a time where
conditions are such that I find myself right out on a limb and I have to make a decision as to
whether it's appropriate to keep on going or whether it's just a very scary environment but within
my capabilities and within the limits of acceptable risk. And I'll make that decision on this climb
at the time.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: What sort of emotions do you feel when you actually reach the summit?

ANDREW LOCK: Funnily enough it's actually a sense of relief more than anything else. These
expeditions take six weeks to two months per climb and again having climbed through all that danger
and needing to do the risk management, having just physically exhausted myself for weeks and weeks
and weeks of climbing, to get to the top and realise I don't have to keep trying, I only have to go
down, that's a fantastic sense of relief.

But I don't feel any great elation until I get off the mountain.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: You've described it as a passion and no doubt your passion has come at somewhat of
a personal cost. You have lost friends as well. What would you say that the cost has been on
relationships in your life and overall your emotional wellbeing I guess?

ANDREW LOCK: It's been fairly high I suppose. It's certainly cost me a marriage many years ago.
Financially it's been extremely expensive and of course yes, I've lost a lot of friends along the
way. A number have died whilst we've been climbing together; more than 25 or 30 have died, friends
with whom I've climbed have died after I've climbed with them. On a subsequent expedition they've
been killed. But that's a cost of being a regular climber at 8,000 metres.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: So at the end of the day, for you the excitement, the thrill, the joy you get out
of that passion outweighs the personal cost?

ANDREW LOCK: Yes, absolutely it outweighs it. It's just something that you have to accept if you're
going to engage in high altitude climbing.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: You have actually said that this could be your last expedition of this type
because your luck can't continue forever. I bet you're hoping it's not a self fulfilling prophecy?

ANDREW LOCK: Laughs. Well I guess that's right.

Look, it could be. I have said for a long time that if I was lucky enough to survive climbing the
14 8,000 metre peaks I should step away and hang up my high altitude boots. Whether I would step
away completely and permanently, that would be a really tough call.

ELENAOR HALL: Safe travelling and good luck to him - mountaineer Andrew Lock, who is aiming to be
the first Australian to have climbed all of the world's 14 highest peaks. He was speaking to
Kathryn Roberts in Canberra as he prepared for his trek.