A great retirement event. Wonderful event on North Campus, and that was a big year, because you had a mountaintop experience in 1988. Talk about the Georgian expedition to Mt. Everest.
Well, I had hired a student to help me put down sod in my yard, and it turned out that it was the guy who was wanting to go to Mt. Everest. He was the son of a faculty member here, and he asked if I would help him get permission for them to go. You had to get permission. The wanted to go to the east face of Everest, so he had to get permission from the Chinese government. So we had a number of Chinese students. So I wrote the embassy in Texas, it was in Texas for some reason, and they gave us immediate permission to go, and he said, "If you get us permission, we will take you with us", and kind of in jest I thought, but as…we tried then to set up a committee. We did set up a committee to try to raise money, and I remember I called Pepsi Cola. We had a student who was a high officer in Pepsi Cola at that point, to try to see if they would give us money, but her comment was that businesses didn't like to see pictures of their sign with dead bodies, because one out of seven on Everest didn't make it. One out of every seven who attempted it, but the reason the university was interested in it, was there were some faculty who wanted to go to study high altitude in terms of what it does to your body, your physical abilities under that kind of stress, and then why people make bad decisions when they are up on high and low altitudes. So there was a great interest among several faculty in doing that, but we couldn't raise the money, and so they got a lot of the food and tents and equipment that were given to us, but anybody else who went, you had to pay your way. Now it costs about $70,000 to go with a group that are going through Nepal to Everest. I don't know what it would cost on the East face, but it cost us as I remember, we put up $6,000 each, Dr. Stanford and I, and the other people. Alex Patterson was a graduate of this institution, he was in the group.
Alex Patterson [Alex Patterson was nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship, however, he was not a Rhodes Scholar] was a Rhodes scholar, I believe.
Right. And there were one or two other graduates, but I don't remember, but anyway with that group together, we got it all put together and we went. Dr. Stanford and I when we got to China, got to Beijing, we went to the American embassy and asked if there was any rescue on Everest, because through Nepal there is. They can take helicopters and go pick up people, but they said you are on your own, which was a great feeling of satisfaction. But anyway, we were at that point, so we had to go on. First we had to get from Beijing down to Shangdu and then over to Lhasa, Tibet, so we crossed China on the train, which was quite an experience. We went first class, but people were getting on with their chickens and all, and we took peanut butter and crackers and mostly ate that. We were on the train two nights, I think it is, I remember, to get to Shangdu and then we flew from there to Lhasa in Tibet and stayed there about a week while we adjusted. It was 12,000 feet. We went from 2,000 to 12,000 when we got to Lhasa. We stayed there about a week to adjust to the altitude and then we took three vans, or kind of really old cars and loaded us up in them and drove three-hundred miles over places where there was just no roads across Tibet to get to the road head where we would start hiking, and then seven of our group had gone on ahead, the ones that were going to try to make it to the top, uh, and we rested one day at the road head and then hiked. I can't remember how many days it took us now, but we would hike about five or six miles a day. Dr. Stanford and I were able to do it. It was easier for me than it was for him later on in the hike because he started getting congested, and if you get too much, you have to come down. So they helped him. They carried his backpack and helped him some, but none of us used oxygen and you just take one step and have to stop and get a breath, and so we got along just as well as the rest of them. They were kind and good to us.
But it was a wonderful experience. We had no causalities. The guys who tried to make it to the top did not make it, because they lost…it was a warmer summer than usual and there was an avalanche that tore their ropes down, and they had lost some of their food, and they made the decision to come down. At the same time they were there, there was a group from Germany and a group from Japan, and they both lost climbers, so…
What a lifetime experience!
One of those mountaintop experiences and what an affirming that you can pick it up and go.
Right. Right. I visualized sitting by a stream with a campfire. Well when you land you are already above the tree line, so there was…the only fire we had was a little Bunsen burner and two little pots and that is what we cooked on.
We are glad you made it home. Dr. McBee, talk to us a little bit about some of…