The Loss of a Good Doctor to Everest: He had a spirit that blossomed later in life|
May 24, 2004 11: 29 EST
At 10am on Tuesday May 18th Dr. Nils Antezana became the second oldest person as well as the second Bolivian to reach the summit of Everest.
Nils decided to spend his 69th birthday on the Mountain, envisioning what was soon to be the best view in the world. And while this was not his first mountaineering expedition, having summited Aconcagua in 2003, Huayna Potosi in 2002, El Sajama in 2001 and the Illimani in 2000, Everest was certainly his lifelong dream. "I’ll never forget when he took a picture of himself on the summit of the Illimani," said Fabiola, Nils's daughter in a conversation with ExWeb, "he was smiling and holding up a huge birthday card for me."
"He was elated upon reaching the summit [of Everest]", Gustavo Lisi, the expedition guide told Nils's wife by satellite phone. "Estaba cho cho!", he relayed in a Bolivian slang, "nearly exploding from happiness!": He had reached his highest expectations.
Nils was born and educated in Cochabamba, Bolivia but later moved to the United States. Having done 5 years of specialty training at Georgetown University, he soon became a well-known pathologist in the Washington Metropolitan Area.
But medicine was only half of his life. "He always had an adventurous spirit," said his daughter, "but i think it really blossomed a bit later in his life". Nils got his flying license about 10 years ago fulfilling his childhood wish to be a pilot. Less than a week later, he was spending the better part of his time flying along the East Coast in his single engine plane. But it did not stop there. He was also an avid scuba diver, and enjoyed handgliding and windsurfing whenever he got the chance. Exercising his young spirit and keeping in close touch with nature went hand-in-hand and soon became a priority in his last years.
Nils would often come by BaseCampMD, not only as a doctor but as a friend. Dr Luanne Freer had the pleasure to talk with Nils in Spanish and English when he would come by. Luanne found out in an early conversation that Nils had worked with her mother many years ago in a hospital in DC. In speaking of Nils Luanne said:
“He was a very giving individual and a supportive man. He came by to visit several times and repeatedly offered his help for anything that we needed. He was someone you could really rely on. Not everyone you meet in Base Camp do you want to establish a friendship with, but Nils was one of those people you wanted to know.”
As a father of two, Nils would say to his children “Things are much more simple than people make them out to be. We seem to be experts at complicating things.”
"The simplicity of his approach to life's challenges," said Fabiola, "has been the driving force to achieving his dreams; from a splendid father to a fierce educator, from an excellent professional to an enthusiastic climber and a companion in life."
Dr. Nils Antezana remains on the mountain somewhere near the Balcony. His family has been notified and are in contact with climbers on both the North and South sides to arrange for Nils’ wishes to be carried out in the most fitting way.
Dr Nils Antezana leaves behind a wife, a son, and a daughter who got married just over a year ago.
Image of Nils on the summit of Illimani, Nils with his wife and daughter, with his two children, and with his daughter, courtesy of Fabiola Antezana.