Shepherd takes Everest in stride


Fitness training didn’t play a big part in Brian Dagg’s preparation for climbing Mt Everest last month.

The 55-year-old part-time shepherd from Queenstown stood on top of the world’s highest peak on May 19.

Dagg says he spent some time on a rowing machine at home in the fortnight before leaving for Nepal, but little preparation was necessary.

“Some of the places I work on around here, like Mt Creighton or Halfway Bay, some of them are steeper than anything I’ve climbed overseas.

“You have no ice axe or crampons, just a manuka hill stick.”

Nonetheless, he lost 12kg on the expedition – the pound of flesh required to spend a precious 20 minutes on the roof of the world.

“It was incredible to see 360 degrees and know there was nowhere higher in the world.

“You can see the curvature of the earth, which is weird.”

The most magical moment came on the ascent while in the company of legendary guide Ang Dorje Sherpa, a veteran of 18 ascents.

The sherpa switched off Mr Dagg’s head torch and told him to look at the epic, moonlit view.

“He just looked at me and smiled and said ‘this is climbing in the Himalayas’.”

The day began at the South Col at 10pm on May 18 – he reached the summit at 7am – and ended at Camp 2 at 5.30pm.

The day was fine, with little wind, and 150 climbers reached the summit. There was one fatality.

No-one had summited the mountain for the past two years because of the huge avalanche in 2014, which killed 16 sherpas, and last year’s Nepalese earthquake.

Seven climbers died on Mt Everest this season, but Mr Dagg said he avoided thinking about the risks, despite the 2000m sheer drops.

He is now close to achieving his long-time goal of climbing the seven summits – the highest peaks of the seven continents.

Only Alaska’s Mt Denali (formerly Mt McKinley) remains and he plans a second attempt there in 12 months’ time.

Otago Daily Times