Phil Bota demonstrates one of the safety measures he used while climbing Mount Everest. If he was falling backwards his device would clap down on the rope and stop him from falling down the mountain. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Phil Bota demonstrates one of the safety measures he used while climbing Mount Everest. If he was falling backwards his device would clap down on the rope and stop him from falling down the mountain. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Everest climber educates students

Phil Bota of Red Deer climbed Mount Everest in 2011 at the age of 22

Students studying Mount Everest at Ecole Mother Teresa School had the opportunity to meet a man who has actually submitted the world’s largest mountain.

Red Deer’s Phil Bota spoke to students about the trials and triumphs of climbing the formidable mountain.

“I was only 22 when I climbed Everest. I went through two years of training before I even entertained the thought,” said Bota.

The Grade 4 English classes are currently working on a project based learning (PBL) assignment centred around Mount Everest. At the end of the project the students will write an essay on whether or not they think youth should be allowed to climb the mountain.

Grade 4 teacher Stephanie Cardinal says learning from someone who has actually been to the mountain and, in Bota’s case, summit Everest.

“We can only show and teach so much, but they can learn so much more from someone who has actually done it,” said Cardinal.

This is the third year Bota has spoken to students at Mother Teresa, and he is considered a highlight of the school year and the PBL.

Not only does he bring along many photos of his climb up the mountain, but also the equipment he used to stay safe.

“I’m not going to lie, without an oxygen tank I would have died on that mountain,” Bota told the students.

Though we trained and worked for two years before attempting the mountain, Bota said the thin air was something he had never experienced before.

He had prepared in North America as best as he could by climbing one of the tallest mountains he could find. Even that didn’t fully prepare him.

He remembers when he finally summits Everest, after being in Nepal for two months, he took off his oxygen mask only to black out.

“I had made it and I took off my mask to call home on my satellite phone,” Bota said. “My vision started going black and the next thing I know I’m on the ground.”

With him, Bota brought the very oxygen can he used when he submitted the mountain. He told the group he had a special relationship with it, as it literally saved his life.

Bota also brought the suit he wore on the mountain, which can with stand temperatures as low as -70C.

“It got cold up there, that’s for sure, but without [the suit] I wouldn’t have made it.”

The students has a chance to ask a few questions towards the end of the hour-and-a-half presentation.

One student asked if he would do anything different if he did the climb again. To which Bota succinctly said no.

“We planned and prepared for just about any possibility,” said Bota. “However, no matter how much you plan and prepare things will happen you aren’t ready for, you just have to go with it.”

So challenges Bota hadn’t prepared for was his guide getting sick and having to go home. Or his friend and partner getting severe frost bit on his hand and had to turn around.

He said he could have given up and gone back home, but said he had come across the world to accomplish something and wanted to give it his all.

He told the students it wasn’t even the climbing of the mountain that was momentous, though definitely a highlight of his life.

“My dad died when I was 12, and when I was on the mountain I was able to connect with him and talk to him in an adult way,” said Bota. “That was my Everest, not the actual mountain.”

Bota has been approached to make the climb one again, but says he hasn’t made any decision just yet.



megan.roth@sylvanlakenews.com

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Phil Bota unzips the outer layer of his boots to show what they looked like inside. He said if he was to make the climb again, he would use those boots as they were the warmest he has ever worn. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Phil Bota unzips the outer layer of his boots to show what they looked like inside. He said if he was to make the climb again, he would use those boots as they were the warmest he has ever worn. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News