Irish adventurer climbing Everest is close to completing the ultimate challenge
He is aiming to become the first person to travel to every country, visit the North and South Poles and climb the Seven Summits…
Having already become the first Irish person to visit every country in the world, Galway-born travel blogger and adventurer Johnny Ward has set his sights on an even bigger challenge.
The 39-year-old is in the process of trying to become the first person ever to visit every country, journey to the North and South Poles and climb the Seven Summits - the highest mountains of each of the seven traditional continents. As part of this, Ward is currently near the summit of Mount Everest, the sixth of the seven summits he wants to tackle.
Speaking to JOE on Wednesday 10 May, the adventurer opened up about how he got into travelling and what led him to pursue this goal. He told us:
"I'd quite a tricky upbringing. My father, who I never really knew, wasn't a great guy. My mum just tried her best with my sister and me. We went about 10 years on welfare from all the way through my childhood until I was about 13 or 14.
"I just wanted really to show people from working-class backgrounds and people who didn't got to private school and didn't come from rich families that they can do cool stuff too. The world's there for all of us."
Of the summits he has climbed so far, Ward said Puncak Jaya in Indonesia was the hardest, telling JOE:
"It's quite tricky to get to. There's people who would try to kidnap you and ransom you in the forest.
"I had a real close shave with death with one of my best buddies. We climbed it together and nearly got decapitated by a helicopter.
"So, the actual mountain wasn't the hardest mountain but it was the closest I've ever been to death. God, it gives me goosebumps even talking about it now."
When we spoke to Ward, he was on around day 35 of his Everest expedition, with him climbing the mountain alongside the operator Furtenbach Adventures.
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While the adventurer has been training since 2018 to undertake his challenge, he explained that there have been several deaths on Everest in recent weeks and that he is "very nervous" about what lies ahead.
"It's probably the most dangerous thing I've done and it's quite a somber thought. They have a death rate of somewhere between 1-3%," he said.
"It often makes you question the ego to do this kind of stuff versus the risk and the loved ones worrying about you. But I've trained hard and I'm with a good operator so fingers crossed that should be enough to get me through.
"I feel strong but I'm very nervous. We're hoping maybe this time next week, we'll have a crack at the summit.
"All things being said, I can't complain. It's going okay."
As for what he misses about home on his travels, Ward said: "Just sitting in my house playing the PlayStation. No one bothering me.
"When you do all these expeditions, you're in little tents and you've got very little time to yourself so just doing nothing, to be honest. That's what I look forward to most. Having an empty calendar for a day or two, that's the dream."
After Everest, Ward is set to try to reach the summit of Mount Vinson in Antarctica in December or January. You can follow the blogger's adventures on his Instagram right here.
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