CMH Heliskiing Guide, John Furneaux, Summits Mt Everest
by Becky Champion, CMH Reservations Agent.
When I worked at CMH's Adamant Lodge in tthe winter of 2006 I met John Furneaux, one of CMH's incredible heliskiing guides. John recently completed his second summit of Mount Everest and I had a chance to chat to him about his connection to the Adamants and his trip back to the top of the world.
JF: I love the Adamants! It seems all my guiding has started in the Adamant mountains. My first trip there was to Fairy Meadows in 1997. I was a client of CMH guide Tim Pochey and I told him I wanted to be a mountain guide and to teach me everything and now I am a mountain guide and work at the same company as Tim! I also did my ACMG
assistant ski guides exam in CMH Adamants area and then the next winter got hired there. I have wanted to be a guide since I was 12 years old living in Newfoundland. I saw a picture in a magazine of a guide guiding some clients in the Tantalus range above Squamish B.C. and was set. I moved there at 15 and made it happen. It was a very fun journey and now I see myself in the exact spot in the picture working as a mountain guide. It's always a great feeling.
BC: This was your 2nd summit of Mount Everest, how do the two experiences compare? Did you find it easier the 2nd time around?
JF: The two trips were very similar but also worlds apart. Climbing mountains is like heliskiing, one minute conditions are great and the next things have turned bad due to the ever-changing mountain weather and conditions. The first trip up Everest we had great summit day conditions. Light winds, warmish temperatures and great snow conditions for travel. Overall it was "easy" as far as Everest goes. Our summit day this spring was a little different. We had very high winds, deep snow and cold temps. We spent 2 nights at our high camp waiting for a weather break and at our last possible chance things cleared and we made it.
BC: On both of your trips you were with a pretty amazing group of guys. Can you tell me a bit about them?
JF: In 2008 I had a team of four with only one person making the summit. Of that team one member has Type 1 Diabetes, one has Crohn’s disease and the other has no fingers from a pervious frostbite accident. The man with diabetes made the summit and the others had to turn back due to a variety of reasons. This year I went back with two of the guys who did not summit. It was their last summit of the seven summits. In the end they both made it, and Rob Hill became the first person living with Crohn’s disease and an ostomy to achieve this amazing feat! It was truly amazing to watch these guys reach their high points in life and on the mountain.
BC: What are the major challenges with scaling the tallest mountain in the world?
JF: The biggest challenge hands down is staying healthy. You need to go to Everest with a clear mind, fit body and with lots of extra muscle on you. Most people will lose about 20 pounds on a Everest trip so you need to be able to withstand that and still be at a healthy weight towards the end of the trip for your summit push. Having a good cook is key. They will keep you well fed and keep your food and water clean which equals staying healthy. The next two are the weather, which is out of our hands, and how your body acclimatizes to the elevation. The key is always go SLOW and go down when you're not feeling right. That's why we spend two months there to allow for down time and to recover.
BC: Do you think you'll ever go back again?
JF: You never know! Life is always changing and it's hard to gauge where things will go.
BC: I hear you're reaching your own high point in life - Marriage! What's more intimidating - Everest or marriage?
JF: That one is easy, marriage of course! Everest is over in two months, marriage is for life! The good and bad will happen as with mountains but I still will look forward to what everyday will bring. If you'd like to hear more about John's trip up Everest come on up to the Adamants lodge this winter for a Signature Heliskiing trip, Ski Fusion, Ski Touring or one of our Small Group Heliskiing adventures. Call our Heli-Skiing Experts to learn more at 1.880.661.0252 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.