Saudi on Top
11:30 am, May 26th 1953, denotes the first successful ascent of Mount Everest, by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay of Nepal. After reaching the highest peak in the world, the two climbers buried some sweets and a small cross before descending.
Since that historic day, many more climbers have broken records reaching the summit of Mount Everest, from the oldest man, 75 years old, to the youngest climber at the mere age of 15. The tip of the world has inspired many to get an unparalleled 360 view of its peak. In 2009, at least 200 climbers have already reached the top of the mountain.
MountEverest.net has stated that it “seems the entire world stood on top of itself” recently. “The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use.’ Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, nor a gem. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. That is what life means and what life is for.” George Leigh Mallory(English climber)
On the 21st of May 2008 and after 60 days of climbing, 30 year old, Farouq Alzouman became the first Saudi to reach the tip of Mount Everest, the first climber to be nicknamed “Sir Edmund Hillary of Saudi Arabia”, the first man in history to carry the Quran with him to the summit and the first Muslim to make a call for prayer on nature’s highest pulpit, with an altitude of more than 8848 m and a temperature below -50 C˚. Alzouman was sponsored by The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities’ “Leave No Trace” program, which aims to develop ecotourism trips while preserving nature. Some of the principles of “Leave No Trace” are: the preplanning of ecological tours, the disposal of waste in an appropriate way, dealing gently with different types of wildlife, making no changes to the natural or archeological elements and respecting others.
“Farouq - What an ambassador for his country! I think I would struggle to find anyone who could possibly dislike Farouq. He had us regularly laughing with his stories and observations from his time in the US. So much so that we decided that a TV series called “The Adventures of Farouq” would be a huge success. I say that he is a great ambassador for his country because on numerous occasions he more than held his owns during discussions about his culture and religion. They say that one should never discuss sex, politics or religion at the dinner table. Aside from climbing, I don’t think we talked about anything else! As the first Saudi to summit Everest we often remarked that he will soon become Saudi Arabia’s most eligible bachelor and I wish him every success in the future. I am privileged to call him my friend.” Nabil Lodey (English climber)
On the 11th of July 2009 Farouq, who was born in Riyadh in 1979 and got his BS in Economics from the University of Oregon, gave a lecture entitled “Life is like Climbing Mt. Everest” at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh. We caught up with him after that lecture for an interview.
Why did you decide to climb Mt. Everest?
I had previously climbed several mountains in the states such as Mount Shasta in California and Mount Rainer in Washington but it was not until I got to the top of one of Maui’s mountains, where I saw one of the most beautiful scenes in my life, that I decided to see how the world looked like from its highest peak.
What was your goal from this journey?
The main reason was to admire the beauty and creation of Allah. I also realized that no Saudi had ever climbed Mount Everest, so I was motivated to be the first to represent my country, raise the flag, and carry the Quran to the highest point on earth.
Everest is known for being the highest graveyard in theworld. Did you have any moments of weakness?
Thankfully, I never had a moment of weakness and that is thanks to Allah. When a person studies his goal well and knows the path to it, then all you have to do is leave the rest to Allah. That person will not have a second thought about the capability of reaching his goal.
I know that there are no words that could really describe how it feels to reach the top. But, how did it feel to you?
To be honest, reaching the top wasn’t just the goal; the whole journey was my goal. Plus, reaching the top did not mean I was safe yet! In fact, going down was harder and more dangerous. The mission wasn’t over yet, but to win that battle and stand on the highest peak gave me goose bumps from the inside. For over ten minutes I was speechless of how amazing the creation of Allah looked from the world’s roof.
Any last thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Every person has a summit in his life to climb and conquer, for which we all should exert efforts. And efforts never go in vain.