OCTOBER will mark 30 years since Queanbeyan mountaineer Geoff Bartram along with four other Australians mounted the first successful summit of Mt Everest from a north-face route along the Tibetan side of the mountain.
It was a venture that came close to killing Mr Bartram- who now lives with his wife Sarah just east of Queanbeyan along the Captains Flat Road. Within sight of the summit he was forced to abandon his personal quest for the top at around the 7,500-metre mark, suffering serious symptoms of cerebral oedema, a deadly indicator of acute mountain sickness.
After years spent working as a mountain guide and climber, it was a difficult choice for the local man, but he watched on ecstatically as team mates Greg Mortimer and Tim Macartney-Snape reached the summit at sunset on October 3, 1984.
Now a local firefighter with ACT Fire Brigade and still a keen traveller and trekker, Mr Bartram is now giving back to the people of Nepal who helped foster his climbing ambitions over many years.
He's working as a trustee for Canberra-based NGO Langtang Valley Health, setup by local nurse Virginia Dixon. The group runs a health clinic in the remote Nepalese village of Langtang, offering locals the only available healthcare within many days walk.
The group, which manages on a frugal budget of around $10,000 a year, employs four locals and provides health services- from vaccinations to aged care and just about everything in between- to hundreds of Nepalese people.
Mr Bartram told The Queanbeyan Age this week that it was a way he could lend his profile and assistance to people who had next to nothing.
"It's a bit of giving something back I suppose," he said. "I spent many years in the Himalayas, and like most people that are there, they're very endearing people. And you can see that conditions are not easy for them and that we were born lucky, and it's about what can you provide that's useful and sustainable."
Langtang Valley Health's major annual fundraiser will be held this Saturday night at the Taj Agra restaurant in Belconnen, and Mr Bartram will again be discussing his Everest campaign for attendees.
All money raised on the night will go towards supporting Langtang Valley Health and help provide free healthcare to Nepalese people in the Langtang Valley.
"From my point of view, I think one of the best things we can give the developing world is employment," Mr Bartram said.
"And I feel really good that our $8-10,000 a year employs two healthcare workers plus a liaison officer and another part time officer. These people are all making a valid living plus providing a service that's very needed. It's a great thing."
* To purchase tickets to Saturday night's Langtang Valley Health fundraising dinner, phone Virginia Dixon on 0417 675 258. For more information about the group, visit www.langtangvalleyhealth.org.