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 Francois Langlois: Everest Summitter 2001

This is his Q&A, but first a little more about him: (Part Two is at the end).

Francois Langlois: Francois is the youngest of 5 boys, grew up in Montreal Canada, and has a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has built a successful business as a Financial Advisor, working with Merrill Lynch for the last 7 years. Sports and physical activities have always been an integral part of Francois' life. Some of his activities include: Rock climbing, mountain climbing and ice climbing

Francois had an affinity for the outdoors from a very young age, going on several camping and fishing trips with his father and brothers. He would often spend his summers in the north of Quebec and has worked as a tree planter during the summer holidays. He started taking an interest in rock climbing while in University, but became more active in the sport after graduation. His interest quickly spilled over into ice climbing and mountaineering as well. Some of his climbing expeditions include: 

--Mt. Rainier, Washington (14 400 ft)
--Liberty Bell, Washington, Rock climbing (8 000 ft)
--Rock climbing in Squamish B.C.
--Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, Ice climbing (6 000 ft)
--Eco-Challenge Training Camp, Whistler B.C., (a 60 hour long, non-stop event)

--Aconcagua 2000

In his words, "To attempt a summit on Everest has been a profound dream of mine for a very long time. It represents so much more to me than merely climbing a difficult and high mountain. I could express many reasons for my decision: passion, challenge, commitment, accomplishment, and so on.  But none of these reasons measure up to the ultimate one: experience. Every Everest climb is unique and can't be duplicated.  No one can predict the outcome because of the numerous factors involved: weather, physiological reactions, timing, altitude, etc. And although the summit is not guaranteed, the experience is sure to be one worth sharing. Making it to the top of the world is certainly my goal, but it is the journey that will bring an invaluable dimension to my life. Sharing that journey along the way is my mission."

On May 24th 2001, Francois Langlois stood on top of the world !

The Q&A, some questions from our readers and others from the staff of EverestNews.com [all marked EverestNews.com].

EverestNews.com: Tell us of your adventure. How was it to climb with Jason Edwards and his team?

Francois: I could probably write pages and pages about everything we experienced in these last few months, and the two years that we spent in preparation. To me, it was and is the Complete Adventure. I got to see so many things, experience so many feelings and emotions, learn more about myself and the people around me, and accomplish my goal! When you have a group of people that share a common dream, come together and spend a few months working as a team, becoming close friends, and would even risk there lives on the mountain for you, if needed; this is what life is all about. It has made me a better person.

As for Jason Edwards; he has put together an absolute TEXT BOOK EXPEDITION ! I have had the opportunity to meet quite a few guides in my travels and I can say without a doubt that Jason is the Best around! He cares deeply about his clients and his profession. His attention to detail and preparations is unmatched. This is what made us the strongest team on the mountain this year. And most importantly, he never looses focus on the primary rule of our climb:  SAFETY FIRST! I don't know if Jason will ever guide another expedition on Everest, but if he does, and it is in your dreams, then grab the opportunity and go with no one else.

EverestNews.com: What are your plans for the future? 

Francois: I don't know if I will climb any other 8,000 meters peaks in the future because I'm not sure it would bring to me much more than I have already experienced on Everest. I might complete the Seven Summits though, we will see.  Right now, I am back on the water, rowing with my team in the 8 man Olympic boats. I was rowing with my team before leaving for Everest. And this August, we will be competing in the World Masters Rowing competition held in Montreal. I'm very much looking forward to it. After that, I will begin training to qualify and compete in the world IronMan Triathlon in Hawaii. This also is another of my dreams. Going to Everest has given me more confidence to go after my goals and aspirations!

EverestNews.com: This is a bit of a dark question [From a reader!], but how do you feel when you walk past the bodies of climbers who have gone before and paid the price of passage with their lives? 

Francois: I have thought of that quite a bit recently. Especially that I assisted with two of my team mates when we helped remove Babu Chiri Sherpa from the crevasse after the accident. This might sound like a bit of a dark answer, but back home, Babu's death would have affected me physically and emotionally much more than on the Mountain. You would hardly have noticed that I was grieving, looking at me. Just like the Sherpas belief, when someone dies, the body you see is only now a shell because the Soul has reincarnated into a new life. You tend to accept death more easily on the Mountain, because you are constantly surrounded by danger. So we must keep focused in what we do and always respect the mountain!

EverestNews.com: How far does the danger of what you're doing reach into your psyche?

Francois: Not so far! I take a very pragmatic view in the activities I do; I look at the mountain like many things in my life. It's a question of calculated risk. I identify all the potential risks in a situation, find the best and safest routes to minimize them, and remain very focused and disciplined throughout the whole excursion.

EverestNews.com: Hi Francois. Congratulations to all on your accomplishment.  Are any of you doing presentations in Canada?  or writing a book?

Francois: Thank You very much. Yes, I'm planning to do presentations in Canada and elsewhere. Another of my goals is to take my Everest experience, share it with others, and raise funds to give to charity in the process. It's a personal promise I made. [We will ask him to let us know where those presentations are and post that news.]

EverestNews.com: What was the strangest part of climbing Everest?

Francois: With all our preparations, we actually ran out of toilet paper! All kidding aside; Not!

Actually, the strangest or funniest thing I witnessed was looking at the Sherpas as they were watching DVD movies on my computer in Base Camp. I don't think most of them had ever seen a movie before, especially at Everest. They were absolutely glued to the monitor! I was worried about showing them the movies at first, since they are a non-violent nation and most of our western movies have some sort of violence in them, that's not the image I wanted to share. But it is Sherpas that would keep coming to me saying they wanted to watch Bang! Bang! movies...

EverestNews.com: How did it feel to be on top ?

Francois: Can't really describe it!

Read the summit day dispatch of May 24th, it should give you a good idea !

EverestNews.com: What it is like on Everest when you hear someone has died on the mountain?

Francois: This is a similar question to an earlier one, so I would answer it the same. I have thought of that quite a bit recently. Especially that I assisted with two of my team mates when we helped remove Babu Chiri Sherpa from the crevasse after the accident. This might sound like a bit of a dark answer, but back home, Babu's death would have affected me physically and emotionally much more than on the Mountain. You would hardly have noticed that I was grieving, looking at me. Just like the Sherpas belief, when someone dies, the body you see is only now a shell because the Soul has reincarnated into a new life. You tend to accept death more easily on the Mountain, because you are constantly surrounded by danger. So we must keep focused in what we do and always respect the mountain!

EverestNews.com: Did the Sherpas freak when Babu died?

The Sherpas do not react the way we Westerners do when faced with death. Being Buddhist's, they believe in reincarnation and that their loved ones have gone to a better place to live again.

The Q&A Part two, ALL questions from our readers [all marked EverestNews.com].

EverestNews.com: When climbers are asked what it's like on the summit they usually and understandably describe their emotions.  But I've often wondered what their sense inventory would be like.  What do you see?

Francois: After you've had a few moments to settle down from all the input and emotional overload you getting, then it hits you; I sat down and stared out to the horizon for the longest time, from our elevation, I could see the curvature of the earth. It was truly spectacular!

EverestNews.com: Hear?

Francois: I could hear the wind blowing but not any loud roar or anything like that. More like a constant hum, almost like music... I didn't really pay attention to it, but I knew it was there!

EverestNews.com: Can you feel wind against you?

Francois: Definitely; but again, it didn't feel cold, it was just there, pressing on your clothes and skin like a constant pressure. I was really a beautiful morning, we were very fortunate!

EverestNews.com: Exactly what does the top of the mountain look like under your feet? Does it feel like a misstep could tip you off it?

Francois: It's not very wide at the top of Everest, about the size of a living room! But your not as concerned of falling compared to what we had to cross/climb to get to the top (namely the knife ridge and the Hillary step). It's more a concern of: If you trip and fall, can you stop yourself from sliding off the steeper edge

EverestNews.com: Is there any comparable group of sensations that might be experienced by non-climbers? (Like Chicago in January, -20 and the wind coming off Lake Michigan?) Or is there too much emotion percolating through you to notice these things?

Francois: I believe that I have experience many similar sensations in the past, during other climbs. It's just that on Everest you are expecting to go through some very difficult conditions, and for long periods of time. You prepare yourself so much mentally and physically that the cold and windy conditions seem more tolerable. Many times, I would hardly even notice that it was freezing cold, because I was concentrating so much on the climb! But you are also right, the huge rush of emotions at the top help dampen the hard conditions!

EverestNews.com: Did you ever think you might die while on the climb ?

Francois: No, not really. I mean; I was really aware of all the dangers that surrounded me, the fear is always present, but It's how you deal with that fear that lets you move forward ( or up in this case!). The only place that I can remember that worried me more than usual was going through the Khumbu ice fall; this is a danger that you just have no way of controlling. You minimized as best you can the dangers but if a serac were to break loose while you are underneath, there is very little you can do!

EverestNews.com: What are your plans next ?

Francois: For the immediate future; I am training with a team of rowers and this fall, we will compete in the World Master Rowing regatta that will be held in my home city: Montreal. We are rowing the Olympic class 8 man boats. Next year, I plan to fulfill another one of my dreams: to go compete in the World IronMan Triathlon held in Hawaii. And over the next 5 to 10 years, I plan to complete the remaining Seven Summits of the World.

Mountain Experience Everest Expedition was a featured expedition on EverestNews.com during Spring 2001. Check out all of their dispatches.

Francois Langlois Everest Summiter, author and motivational speaker. To book Francois e-mail mail2006@everestnews.com

 

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