ePals on Mt. Everest - A Journey to the Top of the World

April 23rd - Fear: How to Turn it into Strength

April 23rd - Fear: How to Turn it into Strength

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Fear. How do we overcome it?

Today I made my way thought the Khumbu Icefall, the first and most dangerous challenge of climbing to the summit of Everest. Imagine a flowing river of ice that moves at the rate of one meter per day. Climbers navigate the Icefall, under, around and literally through giant blocks of ice known as seracs. It's extremely dangerous because at any moment, an avalanche can occur, a crevasse can open up or a serac can explode.

Khumbu Icefall 1
Khumbu Icefall 2

Khumbu Icefall.

A team of Sherpas called the Icefall doctors regularly set the safety lines in the Khumbu Icefall and set ladders across the open crevasses. (Bottomless pits!) It's up to us as climbers to clip into the safety lines and to carefully and strategically cross these vertical and horizontal ladders.

Climbing Ladders

Vertical Ladder.

Climbing the Icefall
Horizontal Ladder

Safety Lines  and Horizontal Ladders.

The first time you look down into a crevasse you experience fear. All of a sudden, you can't breathe and your life flashes before your eyes. You realize that if you fall, you will likely not survive. To make it even more difficult, you're wearing huge boots with crampons (spikes) which tend to get stuck to the rungs of the ladders.

Format: mov
Duration: 00:31

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Fear can easily take over in this moment. Fear can lead to panic and panic can lead to death. So really, you have 2 options.

  • 1. Let the fear overtake you.
  • 2. Take that fear and turn that fear into strength.

Which would you choose?

What I know to be the truth is that fear is all in your head. If we worry about everything that will go wrong in life what do you think will happen? That's right, everything will go wrong. So in my personal case, if I focus on how deep the crevasse is or that I'm going to fall or that the ladder is going to collapse and take me with it into the abyss… I'm done. So I make a different choice. I choose to change the meaning of the ladder and crevasse. I choose to see them as gifts—a problem and challenge that I must overcome in order to become stronger. I take the fear and I channel the fear into strength. Option #2.

Khumbu Icefall Ladder

Crossing a Crevasse.

I am sure you've been afraid in your life, but you have to understand that fear is healthy and it can be managed. While you're trying to overcome your challenges, remember the ladders and the crevasses. Take one little step at a time and move through your fear. Once you get to the other side I promise you will emerge a stronger, more confident human being and be able to achieve anything you put your mind to.


  • Norwood Elementary in Dundalk, Maryland (USA) has joined the project and are following your posts. We are incredibly excited about the challenge. We are inspired by your determination to overcome fear and not let fear overcome you!

  • How long has it taken you to prepare to climb Mount Everest?

  • That video looked scary.

  • How old are you?

  • How old were you when you wanted to climb?

  • What inspired you to climb Mt. Everest?

  • I just skyped with you in Mrs.Grabers class

    yay :)

    I asked what equipment do you use and is it ever uncomfortable.

  • Are you 85 and on your up did you ever get sick?

  • That sounds cool. You must be a very brave man.

  • Elia, I know what you meant about overcoming your fear. I have a fear of heights, and I am going to ride an airplane. It is going to be scary, but I need to overcome my fear of heights and I will.

    From, Devin

  • I think I would choose #2. It sounds better.

  • Do you have any children and are you married?

  • Stay strong, Elia! It is amazing that you are able to overcome your fears and turn them into strength.  That is a skill that  you will be very greatful that you had once you reach the top! If you didn't stay strong, you would not have gotten as far as you are now! You will make an amazing climb and reach the top of the world thanks to your bravery, strength, and commitment!

  • How deep is the crevasse?

  • Elia,

    Wow! That video was intense and it was only 30 seconds long!! I am so glad that you made it across okay!

    Your right fear is healthy and people should see it that way instead of being afraid of it. My whole life I have been afraid of something every single day and sometimes I turn it into strength but most of the time I let the fear take over. Your last paragraph was really inspiring and I will try and take it into my everyday life! Keep following what you believe in! Good luck!

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