Raleigh man climbs Everest for charity

Posted May 12, 2010 12:30 p.m. EDT
Updated May 13, 2010 3:27 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh man is trekking up Mount Everest in an effort to reach a personal milestone and to help provide clean drinking water in developing countries.

Jamie Wilde, 39, and his 7 Summits Club team have spent the past month on Everest and have arrived at a base camp 18,000-feet up the 29,029-foot peak. They're a week away from the summit and hope to leave the camp this weekend, if the weather clears.

"I'm physically fit and ready to go," Wilde said. "It's just a matter of getting my body in motion and getting up the hill."

See more about Wilde's Everest climb on WRAL News at 6 p.m.

Before beginning their final push, though, they must get their bodies used to the oxygen-poor environment that makes even the physically fit feel weak.

"We're preparing our bodies for the altitude game," Wilde said. "The objective is to increase the number of red blood cells in your body so you that you can carry more oxygen with fewer breaths."

The team is in an environment so different than the rest of the earth that the color of the sky is changed.

"When you're looking up from these upper camps, you'll notice that the sky is actually quite black. When you look at the horizon, it’s blue," Wilde said. "Because you're so far up in the atmosphere, you can see the stars at mid-day."

Once at the summit, they will encounter temperatures as low as negative 25 degrees and, hopefully, winds of less than 20 mph, Wilde said. Climbers usually stay between just a few minutes at the summit, he said.

"I'd imagine I won't be there very long. I want to come back with all my digits," Wilde said.

Wilde said he had two motivations to climb the world's highest peak: one, "for purely selfish reasons" to complete his nine-year-long effort to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. After Everest, only Australia's  7,310-foot Mount Kosciusko is left on his list.

"The second is to promote the clean water initiative I started last year, which is Global H2O, and hopefully raise awareness and funding for the different projects that we're using," Wilde said.

Wilde is directing his sponsorships for the climb to the charity, and he's auctioning off items to raise money.

The charity has built a rain-harvesting system at a school in northern Uganda and aims to provide clean water in rural areas of developing countries through wells and other water systems.

"That's the real purpose here," Wilde said.