Part 2: Sibusiso Vilane: Why Everest again? - The Big 3 Challenge

Part 2: Sibusiso Vilane: Why Everest again? - The Big 3 Challenge

  • 25 April 2018
  • |
  • First Ascent

We continue our interview with First Ascent brand ambassador, Sibusiso who shares with us his reasoning for wanting to attempt Everest again, his decision to summit the mountain without the aid of supplemental oxygen and the challenges which the world’s highest mountain presents. Also, a sneak peak into what adventures Sibusiso has up his sleeve next.

Read: Part 1: Sibusiso Vilane: The Big 3 Challenge

Sibusiso Vilane

Why Everest again?

It is a very bizarre decision even to me, I battle to answer this question. The thought around it has always been this; when I walked off my first summit i was 100% sure I would never go back to that mountain again. A few months later my mindset had changed around that. I kept asking myself, why wouldn’t I want to go back? The answer was, you would go back if you had a purpose or a reason to do so. 


You must have the big WHY when doing anything. I wanted to go back to use my name on the mountain for charity. When that decision was made, it became huge. I was overwhelmed about my decision to putting myself in agony for the cause of looking after children. The why, for the 3rd time is a personal one, I want to challenge myself personally on the mountain, to see if I can reach the summit without the aid of supplemental oxygen, as well as be able to raise funds for the education of a young African girl. Education is one of the values I value most in life. I will be able to realise my true capabilities and confirm my reason for wanting to go back. I don’t want the question of ‘can you do it without oxygen’ to haunt me, I want to see if it’s possible.


Everest has many ups but bigger downs - share with us the biggest challenges which Mount Everest presents?

The biggest for me is when you are contending against the weather, especially after you have done everything in your capability to prepare for the summit. To have the weather stop you from attempting the summit is the toughest thing to take mentally. Simply because the entire expedition is agonising, it is tough, it is hard and it’s a long time that you are out there for. All you need really is 7-days of clear weather, if you don’t get this in 2-months of being there, this is when it gets hard.


The thing about attempting Everest and what you have to keep in the back of your mind is, is that the physical exertion is short, but it is more about the recovery, the only time you find yourself physically challenged is climbing between camps. The rest days and what keeps you positive is remembering why you are doing it. The dark moments can be overcome, it’s one step at a time, one step closer to achieving your goal. Patience is key and my biggest attribute, lack of patience and you won’t make it.

What activity gets you through a day at base camp and assists with mental preparation?

We read a lot, there is even a mini library. Base camp becomes a village and you walk around a lot.

I’m taking 3 books with me:

  1. South – book based on 1920 expeditions
  2. Doctor on Everest – team doctor on Everest in 1996
  3. Mad bad and dangerous to know – world explorers. 

For me, reading about Everest doesn’t create a negative influence, it builds my resilience. I look at it in a different way, I find that it prepares me. It’s knowing what you are about to face and the reality of the situation that lies ahead.

Do you get goosebumps talking about it?

All the time. You can never duplicate that feeling, it will stay with you for the rest of your life. You can’t explain it, when you relive that moment you get goosebumps. Nothing can compare to the emotion and feelings of summiting Everest.

Sibusiso Vilane

What goes through your mind when you are on top of the world?

One becomes incredibly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the mountains surrounding you. You suddenly seem so inferior, very small and vulnerable to the elements. You know pretty well that you are not in control, anything can happen. You appreciate the fact that nature has allowed you the opportunity to stand on the top. When I stood on the summit, the emotions were uncontrollable, I was overwhelmed and felt so overpowered. This experience stayed with me until we reached Camp 3, every time I thought about what had just happened, I just became so emotional.


Tell us a bit about your involvement with First Ascent? 

It became very clear that you can dream about all these adventures, but unfortunately without proper gear it won’t be achievable. I value the relationship with First Ascent very much, I have been involved with the brand since 2010. The gear has saved me on my explorations and continues to align with what I do and what I wish to achieve. I have never had any issues with any of the gear used and consistently acquire new gear over time, the relationship has worked well and i am very grateful for the support which they have given me over the years. 


Is Everest on the cards again and would you recommend Everest to fellow adventure seekers?

Any person can do it, and I will be there. We might be doing a trip in 2020, it has always been my dream to build an Africa team to conquer Everest together, with Africa providing the perfect training platform with its vast number of mountains available, it presents the perfect opportunity and I truly believe that we have the potential to do it.


What is next after 'The Big 3 Challenge'?

I am working on a few things. I continuously have ideas in my mind, I won’t stop after the triple challenge, it won’t be the end, it will only encourage me to go further. I want to climb a few more 8000m peaks and do the K2 in the next few years. There are plenty of adventures, runs and mountain biking challenges coming my way, I’m not stopping. I would also really like to try and see if I can climb 4 x 8000m peaks in one year.

Sibusiso Vilane