Last Sunday I watched Greek alpinist Antonis Sykaris’ live facebook transmission, who had just returned from Pakistan as a member of an international climbing expedition on K2, one of the most difficult mountain in the world.
edited in English by good friend Dimitris Vagenas
Among the 60 climbers from different countries who attempted the winter ascent, only the team of ten sherpas managed to reach the summit. Furthermore, they were the first ever to achieve it during winter. Their climbing achievement is equivalent to Edmund Hillary’s and Tenzing Norgay’s Everest ascent and Reinhold Messner’s first ascent to mount Everest’s peak without oxygen.
Despite Sykaris – like none of of the westerners so far – not managing to reach the summit and looking disappointed, I felt his inner strength and energy, after 60 days of survival at 5,000 to 7,400 metres altitude. The man had an ambitious dream and chased it. And this is what matters. This is the salt and pepper of life, regardless of his failure to fulfil his dream.
Everyone has their own K2, their own Everests moment. Small or big joys of life, interludes of feelings and freshly (and first time) achieved success which have a special meaning in our life.
For example, for my friend Kiki Tsakaldimi, this was literally Mt Everest a few years ago. For others it is a newborn. For others an unforgettable journey. For some it is art or sport achievements. Even wedding, religious festivities, anniversaries, summet holidays can act like small summits that we have conquered in our otherwise everyday grind.
My first Everest moment has been the profession that I was lucky enough to choose. I am very fortunate, and I do not hide it, this is like winning the lottery: I am doing my hobby while I am getting paid for it. I get to drive cars, ride motorbikes, get to travel and have adventures as journalist and photographer.
True, it is not a “essential” profession such as farmer’s or being a heart surgeon but it is creative and stressful. Despite being in an office most of the time, it expands your horizons and lets you learn a lot about yourself and the world. This profession and the experiences I got from it were the reason for looking for my “Everest” moment.
Before I turned thirty, I decided that I wanted to go around the world with a motorbike. When I was forty, I started realising my dream after huge battles with my comfort zone, professional and social circle as well as my finances. And when it became true, totally changed the way I view my life.
When I became fifty, we started the second big trip of our life. But even though it might look the same as the first one, in reality it is not: it is not an Everest moment for me. It is not even a tick point in my bucket list or a short parenthesis in my life: it is my life.
No matter if this new World Off Road becomes around the world trip or an uneven battle with the pandemic, the one sure thing is that it has raised our living status, but not from a financial perspective. And I think this is the case for all the family, not only me. This project is not the pinnacle of what we are doing/going to do but rather a basis for getting even higher, as long as we are healthy. This World Off Road is not a life dream coming true, but a different – I dare say higher- level of leaving.
Living permanently on spinning wheels, travelling for living and living for travelling is for the three of us the ultimate tool for improving our everyday life. And self-improvement. It is like we left our sedentary life, and we are training for the next marathon.
Like giving up junk food and gorging ourselves on organic fruit and vegetables. Like giving up our two bedroom, skylight lit inner city apartment for a seaside villa with rolling sea views on one side and mountain views on the other.
We feel like the rolling stones who not only gather no moss but also are getting polished with each passing day. Our body and mind keep working all time and this has a beneficial effect on all of us: the youngest member fo the family gathers knowledge, experiences, memories and (I would like to think) strength and power. In short, everything she needs for growing and being happy. It also keeps the two older family members on their toes and invigorates us. It feels like stopping time and postponing aging.
Thus, having raised out living status, not only we do not get further away from our Everest but we are actually get strength and energy to go after it.
For example, I want to do some long cycling trips during The World Offroad project. We would like to climb tall mountains. Maybe not Everest and K2 but perhaps to the basecamps. To live for a few weeks with wild tribes. To reach Antarctica. To live in new places. To learn a new language. To become palaeontologists with our little one. To make a documentary that inspires people to travel. Or a World Off Road that you can be part of. So that it becomes your little Everest.
* Vula: “No! He will be dragging us behind in our Iveco”!