Sidi Kaouki a powerful open beach break on Morocco’s west coast, where the Atlas High Mountains roll down to the ocean, offshore winds generated high over the peaks sweeping down, swirling around, blowing across the deserted beach, whipping up stinging sand, holding up the swell, creating steeper faces and longer, longer lines of fast breaking waves, blistering lips, stinging eyes, baking heat, aching shoulders and arms, screaming bottom turns ………………ha, nirvana on a stick!
Shimmering green green tangerine waters of the North Atlantic ………..…. some relief from the oppressive heat to Neil and others out over the reef, 400m offshore barely visible, rising and falling with the swell. Neil around twice the age of the others, zinc cream smeared across face, ears, shoulders, peaked cap……..velcro strap……tight over a bare head…….slip, slop, slap North African style!
Not unusual. Over the past decade contemporaries had started disappearing from the water back home, gone, gone, all gone now, never to return, surrendered ……..….… retired, gave up, disappeared from a sport that finds you out physically and mentally, all too quickly ………….. all too dangerously……………………………. All Things Must Pass.
Cooler nights camped high in the dunes to escape the roaring, blustery onshore as evening winds sweep in, hunkered down in the ruins of Jimi Hendrix’s sad beach house….…… stone walls, arches crumbling…………. slinking.………..sinking under decades of desert sand, Jimi gone, summer residence gone, echoes of Jimi and the Stones gone, gone, all gone now.…………… chillingly, The Wind Cries Mary ………..………………….deep into the night!
One late afternoon. A bedraggled group gathered by the bus stop, the unreal road trip to Essaouira………….1960’s rust bucket barrelling down the road, driver peering through filthy windscreen, frantically dodging wild donkeys, the odd camel running unrestrained through shoulder high scrub, crazy goats, feathers, flapping chooks and owners, all clambering hysterically over the gear, tired eyes staring vacantly at the rusty, jagged holes in the floor…….…. gazing bemusedly at the hot tacky bitumen spinning, accelerating below sticky screaming bald tyres, choking diesel fumes, sweaty, filthy, oppresive heat again………. ARE WE THERE YET!!
Whew Essaouira! Sad backpacks and boards in dusty covers now piled unceremoniously outside Chateau Mogador, Rue Lalla Hasna, everyone talking laughing at once, like starlings sharing the days adventures, past adventures, the next big thing! Casual reference to Everest Base Camp………..KAPOW!……………. the fuse started fizzing again!
“…………. the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you can see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Jack Kerouac, On the Road written 1951 (the year Neil was born)
Trek from Lukla to Everest Base Camp, altitude 5,380m. Spent time with an expedition team.
Formulated a five year plan to climb Everest.
Return via Gokyo Lakes, over Cho La Pass, altitude 5,367m.
Trek from Lukla to Khare. Summited Mera Peak, altitude 6,476m.
Return via Zatrwa La Pass, altitude 4,600m.
Twelve day alpine expedition and survival course in the southern alps above the Fox Glacier.
Manaslu, altitude 8,156m. Helicopter flight from Kathmandu to Sama Gaon.
42 day expedition.
Abandoned climb at 7,500m due to snow blindness to one eye.
Click on image to enlarge.
360 Expeditions was founded in 2008 by Rolfe Oostra, Raj Joshi and Marni Oostra. Rolfe and Raj being highly regarded mountaineers.
Rolfe an Australian, is Head Guide, a Berghaus Athlete and brand ambassador. He has been climbing extensively for over 30 years, building a comprehensive CV across six continents. Being the lead guide on multiple 8,000m ascents, Rolfe achieved back to back summits on Cho Oyu in 2016, in under 24 hours. Cho Oyu is the sixth highest mountain in the world and is located on the China-Nepal border. The feat received international press coverage.
Raj is an extreme high-altitude expedition doctor and medical advisor. He has climbed all of the 7 Summits (highest peak on each of the 7 continents) and led the famous celebrity UK 2007 Kilimanjaro Comic Relief Ascent, the 2009 Machu Picchu Celebrity Trek and more recently in 2014, David Beckham through the Amazon.
360 Expeditions is a highly acclaimed company, operating expeditions to all corners of the world. Expeditions can be large, small or bespoke. They are led by elite and professional guides. Many of these guides have spent multiple seasons at high altitude. Many have summited Everest.
The itineraries of 360 Expeditions incorporate state of the art, in-country logistics and dedicated porter teams. Days are allocated for bad weather and acclimatisation. Due respect is paid to team members throughout the expedition, with excellent conditions and prompt payment of wages. They are fully insured. It is of no coincidence then, that 360 Expeditions has one of the highest client summit success ratios in mountaineering. A success rate to be most proud of.
The company is the Brand Ambassador to Berghaus (clothing and equipment manufacturer), Julbo (high performance eyeware) and Power Traveller (portable power and solar chargers). 360 also works in close association with Find Your Feet in Australia (retail, outdoor adventures including trail running, hiking and travelling).
Although a UK based company, 360 has set their sights on providing services in Australia. Like Lincoln Hall OAM (a veteran Australian mountain climber, adventurer and author), Rolfe started climbing on the Booroomba Rocks in the A.C.T. Rolfe is keen for the company to return. It is an exciting time.
Over ten years, the company has gone from strength to strength, battling through a crowded UK trekking and climbing market. Australia is now set to benefit from the company’s adventure services.
Neil is an aspirant high altitude climber. He has stood the test of time and is now fitter and stronger than at any point in his life. We have invited Neil to join us on our Everest Expedition 2019. Climbing will be via the North East Ridge.
It is easy to be captivated by Neil’s sheer determination and physical strength in his desire to climb Everest. Ample evidence of his fitness is available on his training video that we recently had the pleasure of viewing. Coupled with his age and the dedication to his family over the years, we have no doubt that once his mind is set, he is well on his way to achieving his goal. Age in Neil’s case, is of no consequence.
With his climbing record, it is obvious that he more than qualifies for a place on our Everest North Face team. Neil’s ascent of Mera Peak and his altitude record of 7,500 meters on Manaslu is impressive. These feats were grounded by his 10 day alpine expedition course on New Zealand’s Southern Alps. His climbing record puts him in a very strong position for Everest and subsequently, becoming the oldest Australian to summit.
Of course, on a mountain the scale of Everest, nothing can be taken for granted. Considering the above-mentioned personal factors, coupled with 360 Expeditions expertise and logistical support, we are confident that the chances of reaching the highest point on the planet are well and truly stacked in Neil’s favour. At 68 years of age, Neil could well be an inspiration to all.
360 Expeditions is offering a place for a reporter or a camera person, connected to a corporate sponsor or similar, at cost, to accompany Neil and the team to Advanced Base Camp, or even to the summit, if it is within their capabilities.
Reporters are invited to follow Neil in his training and build up, prior to leaving for Nepal and then overland to Tibet. They will capture first hand, the massive task involved in preparing an expedition on Everest. They will have the opportunity to film the incredible Sherpa people who will be supporting Neil and the team, all the way to the top. They will be able to visit their humble homes, learning along the way, what employment on Everest means to them and their families.
On return to Australia, Neil will hit the talking circuit far and wide, with motivational and inspirational talks offering encouragement to people of all ages.
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