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Sun., Oct. 4
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Dr. Vora challenging Mt. Everest a second time


LOWVILLE — A feeling of disappointment had been shadowing Dr. Manoj R. Vora for the past three years.

It was a lamentation he couldn’t elude. It finally caught up with him somewhere in the Adirondacks.

“As I got into my training mode, I was checking at every stage to see if I met my own personal guidelines to give Everest a second shot,” Dr. Vora said. “This winter, climbing the Adirondacks proved to be very fruitful. I’ll give that mountain one more try to get to the summit.

“I’m going back to see if I can finish what I left unfinished the last time,” he said.

In May 2010, Dr. Vora was within 2,700 feet of the summit of Mount Everest when hypothermia caused him to turn around. He had promised his family that he wouldn’t put reaching the summit ahead of his own life.

With his return to Mount Everest, Dr. Vora hopes to become one of the few to have climbed the “Seven Summits”: the highest points on each of the Earth’s seven continents. He scaled his sixth summit — Mount Vinson Massif in Antarctica — in December 2010. According to the expedition company 7 Summits, there are fewer than 110 Americans who have topped all the peaks.

Dr. Vora, 52, began his Seven Summit quest in 2003. His original plan was to climb the Seven Summits in seven years. He’s not chasing the clock anymore but still seeks to stand on top of the world.

“Not a day has gone by that I haven’t looked at me standing at South Col (camp on the final pass to Everest’s top) thinking what would have been if I could have lasted just one more day,” Dr. Vora said.

He will arrive at Mount Everest base camp in Nepal in early April after departing from Lowville on March 31. Weeks will be spent acclimatizing before the summit attempt sometime in the middle of May.

But the trip is more than a physical quest for him.

“It’s been a spiritual journey for me,” Dr. Vora said. “I have always felt attracted to mountains. Every emotion in the book is experienced by a climber — from elation, fear, accomplishment and emotions that don’t even have a description.”

The climbing bug hit Dr. Vora, an internal medicine specialist at the Medical Arts Building at Lewis County General Hospital, when he was growing up in India. He would go trekking in the Himalayas. When he talks of mountains, he humanizes them.

“I’m going with the upmost respect to the mountain, which refused me access the last time,” he said. “The mountain had its own way of telling me, ‘It’s not your time yet.’”

He said there are advantages and disadvantages of having attempted the Everest summit previously.

“I’ve been there and done that,” he said. “I’ve climbed all of the mountain except for the summit. I know things that could have been done differently. The intimidation factor is diluted to a certain extent.”

But it’s important not to lose too much of that intimidation, he said.

“You want to have a healthy respect and a healthy dose of fear,” he said.

Dr. Vora then recalled a patient he had recently.

“He told me, ‘You climb mountains. You must not have any fear of heights.’”

Dr. Vora told him that “on the contrary,” he has a very healthy fear of heights.

“In the mountaineering community, it’s said that a ‘mountaineer with no fear of heights is a dead mountaineer,’” he said. “I fear the mountain because it has the power to snuff out life. For the mountain, we are like what an ant is to us.”

With all of his preparation, Dr. Vora realizes that some things are out of his control.

“There’s always the concern that after training and after spending two months on the mountain, it will come down to that one final, single summit push day. Will everything fall into place? Will the weather gods be gracious? Will the mountain gods be accepting of us and open the doors to the summit?”

He listed other things, ranging from the health status of his feet to his equilibrium and mental health during summit time.

Hundreds of people will be wondering about the same things as they try to reach the summit of Everest in May’s short window. Those traffic jams are another hazard of the mountain.

But Dr. Vora has realized since his last Everest adventure that he’s not climbing solely for himself — a realization he uses as a motivational speaker.

“Over the years, it has become a little less personal,” he said. “The ‘I’ is gone. It’s not that I want the world to look at me at the top of the mountain. I want to look at the world from the top of the mountain and see how much better I can make it.”

Follow the doctor
People will be able to follow Dr. Manoj R. Vora’s climb on social media as he gives updates from Mount Everest.
PODCAST: Dr. Vora said he has also received approval for an Apple podcast. He said people can search for “Mount Everest 2013” to download the app for free from April 2 to June 4.
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