Trevor Johnson left Saturday for the climb of a lifetime – one the 48-year-old has dreamed of doing for more than two decades.
But while reaching the summit of Mount Everest – the earth’s highest peak – will be a momentous high, the White Rock father said the thrill of scratching the personal goal off of his to-do list is just part of what’s driving him.
The real heart of his motivation is the desire to help sick and injured kids.
“It’s not about me, it’s about raising money for the kids.”
Johnson, a battalion chief with the Richmond fire department – is one of 20 climbers who flew to Nepal for the Summits of Hope trek. The non-profit association raises funds for BC Children’s Hospital, and this year, Johnson has earmarked donations from his effort to the facility’s burn unit.
So far, he’s collected about $6,000 for the cause. He’s aiming for $20,300 – equal to altitude he will reach, if all goes well.
The ascent, set to get underway tomorrow (Nov. 4), marks Johnson’s second big climb with Summits of Hope.
The first, to Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro in 2007, was inspired by the “amazing” care received at BCCH by longtime friend Peter Hunter’s infant daughter. (This time, Hunter is making the trek, too.)
Johnson remembers clearly the day he had doubts he would survive it.
It was on the way down from the summit, the top 1,000 feet, and he was leading the group, creating a slide to ease the 30-degree descent for the sherpas and his fellow climbers.
“I over-exerted myself,” he said. “About an hour later, I fell into kind of a shock situation… (developed) an incredible feeling of being cold right through my core.
“I couldn’t eat, struggled to lift my head off the pillow.
“I thought at that point, there was a pretty good chance I might not make it.”
Surprisingly, hours later, Johnson was as good as new.
“I felt 100 per cent. As quickly as it came, it went.”
Despite that experience, and despite heading to Everest just weeks after a violent storm killed more than three dozen trekkers, Johnson is not hesitant.
That tragedy occurred far from where his group will be and was the result of a “one-in-1,000-year storm,” he said.
“What could be better than climbing to the highest peak in the world?”
Johnson’s wife, Caroline, said she is less-inclined to reach such heights, but understands it is her husband’s passion. She described him as someone who “takes pleasure in the worst conditions.”
“The things I love about him are also the things that worry me about him,” she said.
As a fundraiser, Johnson is carrying prayer flags to the peak, each bearing messages of support or hope. He’s also been given 20 soccer balls by Coastal FC which will be distributed to children along the way.
Those interested in following the progress may track the trek at summitsofhope.com, where live updates via a satellite phone will be posted daily.
For more information on Johnson’s effort, visit www.summitsofhope.com