Mazur met a Russian man in the Katmandu local climbing equipment store in 1991 and found himself on the peak of Mt. Everest three weeks later.
He told of being paired with this man as his climbing partner because the Russian was attempting to be the oldest climber of Everest on record, and Mazur was considered the weak, foolish young American. They made it, but not without facing many challenges, including Mazur’s choice to leave his partner to possibly die in order to get help.
Mazur, who began climbing in Glacier National Park at age 17, now spends spring through fall leading overland, trekking, and climbing expeditions in many countries, including on Mt. Rainier. His winter months are filled with speaking engagements about his climbing experiences, as well as collecting funds for the Mount Everest Foundation for sustainable Development.
The crowd donated nearly $400 to that charity at the program. The Foundation helps improve living conditions in some of the villages of Nepal near Everest.
Mazur presented a slide show of the Everest climb, and a video about the rescue of Australian climber Lincoln Hall in 2006.
Hall had been abandoned for dead by his climbing partner, but Mazur and his party gave up their quest for the summit to save a fellow climber.
Another video showed the development of the foundation. Mazur reported two young women of the village have completed training to help with medical care. Another is training to be a nurse so she can deliver babies. Currently, expectant mothers are carried many miles to the nearest medical facility, and many die or lose their babies in the process.
Mazur said twenty percent of children die before their fifth birthday from dehydration due to diarrhea. A pill that costs a nickel can save them.
In 1993, Greg Mortenson joined a Mazur expedition in an attempt on Pakistan’s K2. In a state of exhaustion and disorientation, Mortenson wandered away and eventually arrived in a small village, where the course of his life was dramatically altered.
Mortenson’s story is retold in the 2009 Pierce County READS selection, “Three Cups of Tea” by David Oliver Relin. Copies are available at the Key Center Library.