– October 5th, 2012 by Aaron Hodge –
From Kearsarge to Everest
Clements Hall was at capacity Thursday night, with a wide assortment of students, professors, and community members itching to hear the tale of Ed Webster. “Everest the Hard Way, My Storm Years On Everest” is a personally-narrated slideshow by the man himself, detailing his humble beginnings “climbing a 20 foot pine tree” and his later ventures into rock climbing and mountaineering. To the delight of students, a slide popped up of one of his first mountain hikes, a picture of a 10-year old Ed Webster on, none other than, Mount Kearsarge.
His interest soon intensified, and despite his parents’ objections – “They weren’t too excited about my newfound interest” – he began learning the ways of mountain climbing. Over time, this has taken him across the globe, but according to the expert, local residents are pretty lucky.
“New Hampshire has one of, if not the, best mountain climbing in the country,” he says, recalling past memories trekking in North Conway. “If you can climb in the White Mountains, you can climb anywhere.” A grin emerges, “At least that’s my theory.”
Webster’s tale took the audience to Nepal, Tibet, the Himalayas and eventually the main course, Mount Everest. He recalled warmly the mischievous and playful attitude of the sherpas, even warning the crowd of their love of practical jokes – “When you’re sleeping, they like to find your bag, open it, and hide a giant rock inside. After a day’s climb they get a real kick once you open your bag and find out you’ve just hiked a full day with a rock in your bag.”
He also had nothing but high praise for the Nepalese villagers on his journey, even thanking a few of the international students for attending. Though the perils of climbing such high altitudes are very well documented, he says the reason he and others keep coming back to it, is simply the views.
“You feel completely at peace with nature, like you’re seeing the world as it was created. It’s the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see, and it always sticks with you, like a little jewel tucked away inside.”
Students enjoyed his tales as well. First year student Christian Sanders loved the experience. “It was awesome,” he chides enthusiastically. “I mean, I don’t want to climb Mt. Everest or anything, but it definitely makes me want to hike a mountain.”
A well-renowned photographer, Webster also had some of his best mountain shots on display in the back, to promote the sale of his new book Snow in the Kingdom. Before the close of the event, he pulled out the boots he wore on his climb up Everest, advising everyone in the crowd to kiss them for good luck.
Even if you don’t believe in luck, after hearing his death-defying tales, you may reconsider your stance. Though you don’t have to kiss the boots.