'Never felt so helpless in my life': Wife of Victoria man who summited Everest this week
Published Tuesday, May 28, 2019 6:42PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 28, 2019 7:00PM PDT
Sporadic satellite phone calls which had a way of dropping out were the only communications Victoria climber Chris Dare’s family had with him while he was on Mount Everest.
They endured days of waiting for the phone to ring with updates on his safety and progress up the mountain.
“I think it’s truly been the longest week for me,” said Jenny Park, Dare’s wife.
Dare was summiting the highest peak in the world in what turned out to be one of the deadliest climbing seasons in the mountain’s history.
It was the final step in his nine year quest to finish the “Seven Summits”, a mountaineering challenge to climb the highest peaks on each continent.
It was also his most difficult climb. Weather delays caused several teams of climbers to try for the summit at the same time, causing bottlenecks at three steps along the route in from Tibet, which Dare was taking.
“I personally thought I was in danger of dying up there,” Dare told CTV News.
Exposed to the elements and running out of oxygen, he was barely able to make it to the highest camp.
He credits his Sherpa for saving his life.
“He pushed me and kept me going down that rock face to Camp 3 because I was ready to lay down and die I was so exhausted,” Dare said from Tibet.
As soon as he had the strength, he called his family to let them know he had made it.
“He called right after he came back from the summit. At that point I was really relieved to hear he was OK,” said Park.
She went off to work with a sense of relief.
Meanwhile, on the mountain, Dare was too exhausted to move and had to spend the night freezing at the highest camp, sharing one canister of oxygen with his Sherpa and another climber.
He was scared.
Hours into it, he again called his wife in Vancouver, hoping her voice would give him strength, but it ended in tears.
“He said, ‘I’m stuck at Camp 3. I’m still here and I can’t get out. I’m too exhausted and I’m out of oxygen and water,” recounted Park.
“To hear that he was still there when he was supposed to be at the bottom, I just didn’t know what to do, I’ve never felt so helpless in my life.”
In Victoria, Dare’s parents were also fearful after his call.
“I was shaking. I just couldn’t go back to sleep. That was the middle of the night when he phoned and told us he had already summited but told us he was at the last base camp which is still very, very high. He thought he was going to die,” said his mother, Miranda Dare.
She said hearing about all the deaths on Everest over the same timeframe made it even harder.
“We’re proud of his accomplishments and we’re just thankful that he made this one out alive, but it’s been a lot of stress on the whole family,” said his father, Doug Dare.
They are grateful to Dare’s Sherpa for saving his life.
One of Dare’s team members did not make it, making Dare’s summit a bittersweet experience.
“It’s hard because I lost a friend up there, you know?” said Dare.
He said there were many heroes who saved more lives than were lost on the mountain.
“All you hear about is long lineups, inexperienced climbers, death, right? But there are so many more stories out there that show the human potential and what people can do when they’re really down,” he said.
Dare expects to be back in in Victoria on Saturday, where his family will be ready to welcome him home.
His wife can hardly wait.
“I’m beyond proud of him. This has always been his dream for as long as I have known him, so I’m really proud of him but the bottom line is I am just happy he is safe and coming home.”