Alumnus tells students to ‘dream big’

Alan Mallory, who climbed Mount Everest, returns to give motivational talk on campus about his experience

Alan Mallory spoke yesterday about his trek.
Alan Mallory spoke yesterday about his trek.

Queen’s alumnus Alan Mallory, with his father and two siblings, became the first family to climb Mount Everest.

Mallory, a part-time motivational speaker, spoke to students and University staff yesterday about the trek. Mallory, Sci ’07, uses the experience as a means to inspire others to “dream big.”

Around 150 people attended the talk, which was held in the main atrium of Goodes Hall yesterday evening. A reception was held afterward where Mallory personally met with attendees.

“Figure out what you want out of life,” he said in an interview with the Journal before his speech.

“Too many people float through life. Find what you want to do, put your mind to the goal and chip away at it.” Mount Everest, located at the border of Nepal and Tibet, is about 29,000 feet in elevation. The expedition usually takes two months to complete.

The year that Mallory made the climb, three people died attempting the expedition on the Nepalese side.

“It takes this long because you have to give your body time to climatize to the conditions,” Mallory said. “There is very little oxygen up there, so your body needs to make more red blood cells.”

To prepare for the climb, the family practiced crevasse rescuing at their cottage in Parry Sound, different climbing techniques at indoor climbing areas, while mentally preparing themselves for the expedition.

Before they began their trek, the Mallorys first flew to Katmandu, Nepal, before flying to a village at the base of the mountain. They then began a 10-day trek to the base camp at Mount Everest.

The initial plan was for the entire family to complete the climb, but the last member of the family, Mallory’s mother, couldn’t continue because she suffered a fall at base camp and injured her Achilles heel.

The family faced many challenges during the expedition, Mallory said. Crossing Khumbu Icefall, an area where glaciers break off between two mountain peaks, was particularly difficult.

Mallory said they had to use aluminum ladders tied to each side of the peaks in order to cross.

“The [glacier] pieces can fall at any time,” Mallory said, “and there have been people who have died from being hit by a fallen piece.” The biggest challenge though, according to Mallory, was the final summit push.

“We had to climb for over 26 hours without sleep. The climb is very steep and difficult,” he said. “This is the death zone, where there is not enough oxygen to support life. You have supplement oxygen, but it’s very little. Every step you take is excruciating.” Reaching the summit brought Mallory mixed feelings, he said. While it was his proudest moment and he had feelings of accomplishment, he was also worried about what’s ahead.

“You think, I finally accomplished this,” he said, “but you’re so exhausted and depleted because you still have the way down, and people also die on the way down because your body starts to shut down.” Currently, Mallory is a mechanical engineer at Hatch Engineering, working in Arizona.

Mallory said he owes his adventurous nature to his father, an avid mountain climber.

“We’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and doing adventure-some activities,” Mallory said. “I guess it’s the life style of the family.”

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