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Climbing Everest

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14th May 2011

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Ready for adventure? In search of something spectacular? Hub Culture members, as a rule, are always up for it, and many feel like they've seen everything. So when Hub got an email from members Rob and Anna Hart, talking about some kind of Summit project, nobody batted an eyelid. Here we have a banker in Singapore who has, in his spare time while raising 3 children, holding down a day job and globetrotting, summitted 6 of the 7 tallest mountains on each continent, and was about to embark on no. 7: Mt. Everest. No biggie.

Rob is the first Hub Culture member to attempt climbing the world's tallest mountain, so his efforts represent an important moment in the history of Hubs. Hub Culture has never been to Mt. Everest, so important questions abound: "What fine dining is available at 29,0002 ft?" we wondered. "Is there a boutique hotel yet?" It turns out the answer is bottled oxygen and something called "Gorak Shep", a series of concrete huts at Base Camp, where climbers arrive to become acclimated to life without Evian.

Rob's ascent was not just for kicks, but for a cause. He and his wife Anna have been large supporters of Room to Read, a wonderful charity that builds schools and educational platforms for children across several countries in the developing world. The San Francisco based organization is growing fast, and is one of the best charities for developmental work in education. As the benefiting organization, Rob used his Everest climb to fundraise for Room to Read, with proceeds being used to build a school in Nepal, in the shadows of the great Himalayas. You can, and should, donate at Rob Hart Everest, or via Hub Culture, which is supporting the project:

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It turns out there are two ways to climb Mt. Everest, and the only time of the year to do it is May, before the Indian monsoon drives winds further north, creating unstable weather conditions. Not that the conditions are ever stable, but whatever. Rob and his expedition are tackling the southeast ridge, which is "the Nepal side". After spending up to two weeks in Base Camp to get acclimatized, they set off with a team from Alpine Expeditions onward to four different camps, at varying levels on the mountain. Along the way they climbed the Khumbu Glacier, a vast ice field filled with seracs, crevasses and shifting ice blocks. From there its onto the Lhotse Face (already the 4th highest mountain on Earth), where they used fixed ropes to basically climb a huge ice wall in the middle of nowhere and with no cell phone reception. Not glam.

From there, its onward to the Valley of Silence (no wind), the Geneva Spur and the "death zone" - which is a point so high that climbers can only remain for a few days before making a summit bid - the air here is so thin that one does not dilly-dally. If reached the Summit via the Kangshung face, and traverse a ridiculous 40 ft rock wall called the Hillary Step before scrambling, frozen and exhausted, to the top of the world.

They then catch their breath, turn around and leave, as the Summit closes at 2pm daily. Once the descent begins, its pretty much a straight shoot back to base camp, similar to sliding into home base but with thousands of life threatening obstacles. Then they rest a few hours and climb another mountain next door, just for kicks. The weather is fickle, and the climb dangerous - a fact they've already learned having passed the occasional frozen corpse on the path, and a heart attack in progress in another group. The reality of Everest is harsh, but what would one expect from a mountain that has claimed over 217 lives.

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Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand) and Tenzing Norgay (Nepal) completed the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest on 26 May, 1953. Since then, about 2,700 have completed over 4,000 ascents on the mountain. Rob is the first one to do it for Room to Read and the first Hub Culture member to bring us tales of the Khumbu cough (most get it from the altitude) and stories of ice, rocks, and a particular kind of human endurance not found in most of us.

In honor of scaling the 7 peaks, and officially becoming Hub Culture's most extreme member, we're establishing the Everest Award - a donation of 10,000 Ven to Room to Read, and what will be an annual award that highlights excellence in the global Hub community - for those who really go the extra mile to do the extraordinary. Despite the lack of bottle service, world class DJs, fine cuisine, and beautiful people, we tip our hat to Rob as he experiences the world's ultimate VIP room, and crosses off a huge adventure from his bucket list. Best of all, the whole effort will result in a better education, books and a brighter future for children growing up in Nepal.

Now that Hub Culture has, theoretically, stepped foot on the top of the world, its only fitting that you deep sea divers out there start planning some dives to establish the undersea colonies, -- let's just make sure you do it for a cause.

To donate Ven to Room To Read to support Rob's school in Nepal, please click here. 100% of proceeds benefit the cause.