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Andrew Lock: "I just haven't sought the limelight"
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Oct 13, 2004 21: 00 EST
You don't get to hear much about Australian Andrew Lock, although on September 25 he summited his 10th 8000er (Cho Oyu).

An injury prevented him from moving to Shisha Pangma and attempt the British route. Had he made it, he would have bagged his 11th eighthousander - and looked at a mere 3 to go for the full 14.

Andrew is an experienced expedition leader, a regular in the Himalayas for more than ten years. Last spring he was part of the Discovery Channel team, working as a climber and cameraman.

ExWeb caught up with Andrew upon his return to Australia, for an interview with the modest climber.

ExWeb: Hi Andrew, first of all why haven't we heard much about you before?

Andrew: "People generally donít know of me, although in climbing circles in Australia, I think I am reasonably well known. The main reason is that I just havenít sought the limelight.

I really just climb for the joy of it and somewhere along the way, I accumulated some summits. Also, I have some equipment sponsors but I am mostly self funded, so without the corporate push behind me, I donít really have a marketing perspective.

ExWeb: Do you think that having summited 10, 8000ers has the same meaning in Australia, as it does in US and Europe?

Andrew: Definitely not. I mean, it means the same to me, wherever I am, but Australians are flat-landers and really havenít an understanding generally of high altitude climbing. Of course, we all know where Everest is and some people even know of K2 but thatís about it. However if you want to talk surfing, tennis, cricket, golf or footyÖ

ExWeb: How did you start climbing?

Andrew: I was very active in the Scouting movement as a kid and in other outdoor clubs and had a wealth of experience in caving, cross country skiing, canoeing etc but it wasnít until 1985 that I saw a slide show of the first Australian ascent of Everest (the White Limbo route in 1984).

"I was so taken by what I saw that I moved to Sydney, took up rock climbing, went to New Zealand the same year and did an alpine climbing course. From there, it was several seasons in NZ, followed by some tentative expeditioning to North America, USSR, South America and finally the Himalayas. Iíve been broke ever sinceÖ

ExWeb: As far as the 8000ers, did you aim for all of them right from the start? Do you aim for them all?

Andrew: No, it was a progression. Initially, I had mixed successes with the 8000ers. My first 8000m summit was K2 with Anatoli Bukreev in 1993 but people died and I had a couple of near misses on subsequent peaks.

"Then in 1997 I made a resolution to start succeeding regularly or find another sport. So I started succeeding. By 2000, Iíd climbed 7 and my outlook is that as long as I still enjoy the big peaks, Iíll climb them. When the fun stops, so does the climbing. I donít care if its on number 13. At the end of the day, there is nothing in it for me but personal satisfaction, so they have to be worth the effort.

ExWeb: Eighthousanders are very expensive, involve a lot of time, much suffering and often a not so aesthetic climb says the Alpine critics. Do you agree? If so, what is the positive side of the big mountains, what attracts you to them?

Andrew: I donít think you can compare the two. It is true that the normal routes on many 8000ers do lack alpine technical difficulty but big mountains have multiple routes. It is up to the climbers to choose their challenge.

'The fact is that some of the best alpine climbing Iíve done has been at high altitude, eg the Mazeno Ridge attempt with Doug Scott, Voytek Kurtyka, Rick Allen and Sandy Allan in 1995 and the Broad Peak South Ridge attempt in 1997.

"However expeditioning is a package Ė it involves remoteness, extended periods of difficulty and perhaps danger, and often a great deal of camaraderie with your partner or team mates to overcome the numerous obstacles. Alpine climbing allows short term experiences in the mountains, whereas high altitude expeditions are just that Ė expeditions: long, demanding and committing. It is a more complete experience for me.

ExWeb: Whatís next?

Andrew: My sights are Kanchenjunga, Annapurna and Makalu. In what order or priority, I donít know. It depends more on the compatibility of potential team mates and of course, availability of funds. My hip pocket will determine thatÖ "

Andrew Lock is Australiaís most accomplished altitude climber. His 8000 metre summits include: 1993 K2, 1st Australian ascent via Pakistan; 1997 Dhaulagiri, 1st Australian ascent; 1997 Broad Peak, solo; 1998 Nanga Parbat, 1st Australian ascent; 1999 Hidden Peak, 1st Australian ascent;1999 Gasherbrum 2, alpine style; 2000 Everest, leader commercial expedition; 2002 Manaslu, 1st Australian ascent; 2002 Lhotse, solo; 2003 Shishapangma, solo; 2004 Everest, climber and cameraman.

A vastly experienced Antarctic veteran, Andrew has led, trained and guided members of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions on multiple expeditions and guided commercial groups across Antarctica and the sub Antarctic.

He has a comprehensive background in corporate and outdoor training, military and multi-agency emergency services.

He holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Emergency Management) with Distinction, is the recipient of the Australian National Medal and is an ambassador for the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Andrew is an experienced mountain and wilderness documentary cameraman and in 2004 was contracted to film and climb Mt Everest for the Discovery Channel.

Image of Andrew with Everest behind, courtesy of Andrew-lock.com

Note: Edited after intial publish - Andrew summitted on the 25th, not 26th of September. Also, it was a cracked pelvis that stopped him going to Shish not a bruised arm. He took a small fall on the scree slopes coming off Cho Oyu on the 26th and had a small fracture of the pelvis "nothing serious - Iíll be running around again in a few weeks".

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