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  Canadian Mt. Everest 2005: Sean Egan – a personal memory


Dr Sean Egan

Update: Friday 6th May, 12pm. Ottawa.

By Terry Kell

“Namaste” and thank you Sean.

It has now been a week since I received Harold’s first call early on Friday morning. It was 1:20am. Harold called to let me know that Sean had requested to be evacuated by helicopter back to Kathmandu but that he wasn’t in any danger. It was a decision that Sean made because he didn’t feel strong enough to make the trek to Pheriche. I put the phone down thinking that it was a wise decision and typical of Sean. He didn’t want to risk injury on the trail. I went back to sleep.

The next call from Harold came about an hour later….”Terry, Sean’s dead!” I made Harold repeat himself several times. The delay in transmission over the satellite phone made Harold’s voice garbled and difficult for me to understand. I thought I was having a very bad dream. I’m sorry Harold if I made it more difficult for you. 

I am truly grateful that Sean called me one day and asked me if I was interested in participating in his planned expedition and climb to the summit of Mount Everest. If he knocked on my door tomorrow, I would go with him again in a heartbeat. My adventure with Sean and the other members of the team was a wonderful experience that I will share with anyone who will listen.

It was a privilege to know Sean. As Sean and I worked together on preparing for the expedition he began to share his experiences with me, his goals and his dreams. As I learned more about Sean, I began to personalize his vision about leading a healthy life though physical fitness. Very quickly I developed a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for him and his achievements. The expedition became a shared vision with similar goals.

Sean was a very modest man who did not seek the limelight. He never expected the level of media interest in his plan to climb Everest and, more importantly, why he was doing it. Sean wanted to make a difference in the general health of people. For Sean, reaching the summit of Everest was just a higher podium from which he could get his message out about physical and mental fitness. He was very concerned about the health of today’s kids, particularly in North America. Sean was alarmed at the growing number of overweight children due to both poor diet and lack of exercise.  He was also concerned about the health of adults.

Sean led the expedition team by example. He never asked any of the expedition team members to do something he wouldn’t do himself. He was always thinking about the team - making sure we were well prepared and equipped.

One day, on the trek to Base Camp, I was cursing Sean at dinner. It had been a very tough day for me because of the height of the trail and I was cursing him for not telling me about the trail and some of the drops. He just replied with a twinkle in his eye and a smile, “If I told you everything, you might not have come. Besides I knew you could do it”. And he was right.

The following day was another tough one for me, having to trek along a narrow trail with a very steep drop. That day, Sean walked behind me and coached me through the more difficult sections. In a sense that section of the trek became my own Everest and Sean was there to help me, for which I am very grateful.

This past week has been very tough for everyone who Sean touched. The number of emails that I and the other members of the expedition have received from people around the world is amazing.  Many of these people never met Sean and only learned of him through the blog and the media. I would like to thank everyone who sent their best wishes to the expedition team members. I especially want to thank Harold Mah. I can only imagine how difficult this past week has been for him. It gave all of us here a great deal of comfort knowing that he was looking after Sean and taking care of his children.

Sean was cremated this morning in Kathmandu in a very beautiful service. I spoke with Seamas and Anna, Sean’s two children and they are both doing very well. I also spoke with Harold and he will be sending out a blog later today or early tomorrow to tell us about the day’s events and future memorial plans in Ottawa.

Seamas, Anna and Harold also took the time to visit Child Haven which was a place of special interest and significance to Sean.

I don’t believe that Sean would want any of us sitting around feeling sad about his passing…at least not for very long. Instead he would want us to move onto more positive things. We should begin to celebrate his life. There are, and will be, many, many wonderful things that will come from Sean’s accomplishments and contributions. The expedition team is already working on several charitable initiatives in Sean’s name that will help others and carry on his legacy. As soon as the plans are finalized they will be made public through the blog, the media and the Kanatek website.

I hope that by knowing that there are already many good things being planned gives you all some comfort.

Sincerely, Terry

Dispatches

 

 

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