A Queensland man’s quest to become the oldest person to paraglide from the top of Mount Everest has almost ended in tragedy.
Accompanied by QUT filmmaker Joe Carter, 62-year-old Ken Hutt set out in April, spending weeks at base camp preparing to make the long trek to the top.
However, the landslide was not to be: Mr. Hutt developed a life-threatening chest infection at Camp Two, some 21,000 feet up, the world’s highest mountain.
Mr. Carter said that Mr. Hutt had to come back.
“Without the ability to breathe properly in an environment where every ounce of oxygen inhaled can mean the difference between surviving and dying, he had no choice but to descend,” Carter said.
One in seven people do not survive their Everest attempts and three people died while the group was on the mountain.
Mr. Hutt’s mission was to raise the profile and funds for Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign.
While he didn’t accomplish his gliding goal, his message made it to the top, delivered by the three remaining members of the group.
But the trip was not without more emergencies for the remaining climbers: two members of the group had to be airlifted to safety on the descent, drilling through the dangers the mountain presented.
‘We still managed to succeed with our goal’
Hutt said the mission was not a failure even though he went down the mountain in a more conventional way than planned.
“We have already raised over $250,000 for polio with the expedition, and our thousands of social media followers around the world have been sending us messages of support and relief that our entire team has made it out safely,” he said.
Mr. Carter stayed at base camp with Mr. Hutt’s son after training the guides to film Mr. Hutt for his documentary Fly from Everest.
The filmmaker has experience in making extreme sports movies. He said that this time it was different.
“Having a story now where Ken was forced to retreat from the mountain without reaching the summit or paragliding isn’t necessarily a sad ending, in fact seeing Ken reunited with his son at base camp and Knowing that you have accomplished so much for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign and are going home to your family is truly a moving and inspiring way to end our story here,” he said.
The documentary will continue to be produced.