Saturday, 18 June 2011


There are some incredible athletes amongst our ABBA bloggers but if scaling Everest only happens in your dreams, read on – Just a few weeks ago on 14th May, a friend of mine, Rob Hart, made the summit and raised $15 000 in sponsorship for the Room to Read Project in South Africa and for building a school in Nepal. The trip took seven weeks, starting in Kathmandu on March 30th, and ending there on May 17th.

Passionate about Room to Read Rob and his wife, Anna, first got involved with the project when they moved to Singapore in 2008. Room to Read daily transforms the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on books, literacy and gender equality in education. Apart from building libraries and encouraging children to read, they support girls, who in most circumstances would’ve had to drop out of school, with special scholarships which give them the chance to complete secondary school and reach their full potential.

But back to Everest!

Rob has climbed the Seven Summits at the rate of one a year since 2003. He says: 'I’ve dreamt of climbing Everest since I can first remember, and that dream morphed to include the highest mountain on each continent. The attraction of frozen digits, howling winds and inedible food eludes many, but to me the draw is that such adventure and challenge is still available in modern times.'

This year’s success was his second attempt at Everest. In 2005 the mountain defeated him with icy winds. Even this year’s assent was not without its drama. Coming face to face with other climbers on their way down who hadn’t made the summit, he writes: ‘We meet mostly disappointed climbers coming down in the other direction, because the wind was quite strong the day before, May 12. One girl sobbing through her oxygen mask stands out, her dream in tatters for the time being. I know how that feels from last time. Some of the others did not make the top, but are just happy to be getting down alive.’
The ‘getting down alive’ part is brought grimly home when they came across a Japanese climber who’d died two days before. ‘Apparently he had got hypothemia, become disorientated and when his sherpa tried to help him, he became aggressive and pulled off his goggles, and so they had to leave him. He was still attached to the rope, looking like a wax model, and just a few meters off that path, so we cut him loose and retied the rope so that climbers could continue to use the fixed line.’ ‘A quick 9 hour slog up the mountain and I am on top of the world. As you can see I was tired enough to want to sit down. With only 2 of us up there it was impossible to hold the flag out properly - Mike took 3 photo's of me with my flag with his hands out of the gloves in -20C, and this is the best one. You can see the South African flag with the Room to Read logo beneath it.'
For the record, the same Mike Horst who took the picture, went on to climb the Lhotse peak too and summited at 5am the next morning, becoming the first person ever to climb two 8,000m peaks within a 24 hour period! No wonder they’re drinking a beer! And below huge hugs for Daddy! Very few of us will make the Everest summit, but right now the Room to Read logo is lying at 8,848m at the top of the world! Quite an endorsement of reading!

So if anyone wishes to support Room to Read as they transform the lives of millions of children in the developing world – one book, one child, one community at a time, click here .


Sue Purkiss said...

I'm fascinated by mountain climbers, while being a complete wuss who's terrified of heights myself. And what a brilliant cause! Awful, the story of the disorientated Japanese climber. Thanks, Di!

michelle lovric said...

Refreshing! You always bring us amazing high skies, pure waves and nature at her most uncontaminated and challenging, Dianne. I can tell it's one of your blogs just from the picture. Your friend, and Room to Read, are wonderful.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Thanks Sue and Michelle... sorry not to have followed up before but a few hours ago flew over your home city Michelle lying like a jasper stone in the midst of all that water. I've been in Le Marche & the flight back flies directly over Venice. Incredible to see such detail from the air... tried to imagine you there! And then found youe comment on return.

Leslie Wilson said...



Vanessa Vettier said...

What a beautiful account of an extraordinary event. The last picture makes me cry. Thank you Di. xx Vanessa

Anna Hart (Rob's Wife) said...

One of my very favorite programs at RtR, is their “Local Language Publishing.” They found, after having built many schools and libraries around the poorest countries in the developing world, that the literacy rate was not improving as much as they expected. By digging deeper, they realized that it was because of the books! A child in a rural, poor, mountain region of Nepal (or Sri Lanka, Vietnam, etc…) does not identify with “Curious George Goes to The Fire Station” or “Cat in the Hat”. The storybooks that filled the newly built libraries had no cultural relevance to these children and also, they were in English. Now, RtR is the LARGEST publisher of local language children’s books – they have more than 553 original titles – in languages that no one else would ever publish in – and they use local artisans, authors, in order to create new, culturally-relevant children’s book and it also helps fuel the local economy – The LLP program operates in eight RtR countries (Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam and so far publishes in 25 different languages.

I have many of these books at home as I use them to show potential donors when talking about RtR. If you have children, or have ever read to a child, you will know what pure joy reading can be when a child has a favorite book. In my home, “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson is a book we ALL love and reading it with our children is a amazingly fun! It is great that RtR lets us give children who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity, the ability to have a favorite book too!

Anna Hart (Rob's Wife) said...

ps - Thank you Di! xx

Rob Hart said...

Hi Di,

Thanks so much for writing this up and promoting Room to Read. I'm enjoying trying to put on the 11kg's I lost while climbing. Glad there were no fingers and toes included. It's great to be back in warm, verdant Singapore.

Thanks again

Rob Hart