Overcoming the Everest challenge

8 June 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Accessing to camp 3 along the infamous and extremely steep Lhotse Face - Credit - Facebook

Islanders Jayanthi and Johann do the unthinkable as they climb to the top of the world with the backing of well-wishers and supporters and a fair share of good luck

 Exactly 731 days after duo Johann Peiris and Jayanthi Kuru-Uthumpala put Sri Lanka on the world map of mountaineering by conquering Mount Everest on May 21, 2016, Peiris, like Jayanthi two years ago, summitted the mountain on May 22, 2018, at 5.55 am (Nepal time). He became the second Sri Lankan to accomplish this arduous mountaineering mission, having failed to reach the summit on his first attempt, in 2016, when accompanying Jayanthi, due to problems in his 
oxygen tank.

Sharing the Experience 

Johann Peiris returned to Sri Lanka after the proud achievement on June 01. Sharing his success, he spoke to media representatives at a press briefing.   

Sri Lanka taken to the top of the world - Credit - Facebook

“I felt such a sense of deep pride for my country while flying the Sri Lankan flag at the summit. It was an indescribable feeling. My first attempt to summit the Everest was a dream, but on the second attempt, the dream was even bigger. It had to happen this time. I knew what to expect this time because I was in better physical shape and had a clear mind.   

Johann and Jayanthi launched their book ‘Everest, a journey with Jayanthi Kuru - Uthumpala and Johann Peiris’ on January 29, 2017

It was a clear day without clouds or terrible storms. The weather was just perfect and I summited Everest earlier than planned because of the perfect weather. It was a wise decision to summit the mountain on that particular day. The Sherpas even said a clear day like that hadn’t come for years. The view was amazing and I couldn’t believe that I had made it until my Sherpa said, “This is it, you are there at the summit and there is nothing beyond this”. Someone had to tell me that I was on the top of the world. It was such a beautiful view, it was unbelievable. Actually, I cannot express the feeling I had being on the top of the world,” he said jubilantly.   

The mountaineering experience this time was quite different from the first attempt since the second was sponsored. Enthusiastic Sri Lankans came forward to fund his journey to the summit and back, contributing 100 rupees for each step with the monies raised through the online campaign ‘Climb Everest with Johann’. There are more than 80,000 steps to the peak and each step was funded by well-wishers.   

“This achievement wouldn’t have been possible, but for the support, I received from all partners in this adventure. Special mention must be made of all those who participated in the ‘Climb Everest with Johann’ initiative, sponsoring every step I took up the mountain. This victory is yours too. I am hopeful that my achievement will inspire others to dream big, go out and achieve theirs,” he said.   

Celebrating the Victory

“People thought we were mad at the beginning because we were Sri Lankans coming from the sea level and were rejected again and again. Finding sponsors was hard. We didn’t give up and were determined to make it. The total cost was USD 58,600 (LKR 9, 272, 151 - Nine million, two hundred seventy - two thousand, one hundred fifty-one). But collecting funds for the second time was much harder. The total cost was around 70,000 US Dollars. (Rs. 11, 097,800 - Eleven million, ninety-seven thousand, eight hundred rupees) This successful climb would have remained a dream if I wasn’t financially supported by the sponsors, especially the Multinational companies.   

“When I returned to Sri Lanka in 2016, it was devastating and I said I would never go back. But I always kept saying that it’s the calling of the mountain; something you can’t resist. So I was there for the second time. Ayubo.life came to me saying ‘there is a nice opportunity to go there for the second time’, and they came up with this ‘public walk’ idea. So it happened like that despite me not being ready for it,” he noted.   

The Second Attempt 

Johann said that the ascend happened in stages and it had taken nearly two months. He had left the island on April 04 and started the climb from the Lukla - Base Camp on April 07. They had climbed another mountain on the way.  The climb had lasted for more than two weeks and served as part of the training program, which was used to acclimatize his body to the harsh conditions, up there in high altitude. He was slowly ascending and descending, step by step. “We had planned to summit the mountain on May 23, but a change in the weather forced me to reach the top on May 22.   

The mountaineering experience this time was sponsored by enthusiastic Sri Lankans 

His first attempt to the peak in 2016 with Jayanthi was unsuccessful because he was forced to turn back at 8,400 metres, a mere 448 metres short of the summit. This was due to a shortcoming in the oxygen tank. He would have remained as a frozen landmark at the peak if he had decided to summit. Looking back it was a wise decision to start descending after coming so close of realising his dream.   Johann’s teammate Jayanthi was also present at the occasion and she joined in to share the experience.   

“Actually he is my hero and it’s this time that my victory was complete. He couldn’t make it to the top in 2016, therefore my victory was incomplete. Both of us cried when I descended Everest (In 2016), knowing that we wouldn’t be able to reach the place again. He is a positive thinker and later it influenced me as well. Even if there are dreams we need to fulfil, sometimes we don’t have that mental energy” she said.   

Johann said that he had stopped for a while at the same place he had during the first time and remained there for a few minutes. He had done this just to look around and make it sink into him that that this was the place he had stopped when he first did the climb two years ago. He said he really enjoyed every step had taken from there onwards.   

Coaching Youngsters

“The informal group ‘Himalayan Foundation Sri Lanka’ is advising the young and energetic mountaineers in Sri Lanka, who dream to climb mountains outside the country. The group consists of five to seven members, who have done mountaineering outside Sri Lanka, and have been to the Everest Base Camp or gone beyond. We plan to give advice to Sri Lanka’s younger generation which wishes to take mountain climbing because there is a lot of information which is not correct. Hence we want to make sure that we are sharing our experiences voluntarily. We did several rock climbing training programmes, one in Yakkala and one in Horana, just a week after Johann reached the summit,” Jayanthi concluded.   


In the first attempt, Johann had seen the death of a fellow mountaineer and this time too, he had thought he wouldn’t be able to make it, but said these thoughts shocked him, even if he was doing the climb for the second time. 

Johann, a world renowned bridal dresser from Colombo, has had more than one calling in his life. His interest in exploring began with explorations in the Knuckles Mountain range with his father at an early age. This passion then encouraged him to conquer the mountains in Sri Lanka and around the globe. His first exploration was summitting the Thai - Burmese Border in 2005 which was followed by reaching Everest Base Camp (17,590 Ft) in 2010. He also climbed Island Peak (20,305Ft) in 2012 and Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340 Ft) in 2014 apart from his attempt to reach Everest (27,559 Ft) in 2016.   

Success story   

 Johann and Jayanthi launched their book ‘Everest, a journey with Jayanthi Kuru - Uthumpala and Johann Peiris’ on January 29, 2017, in which they share the story of the exhilarating climb to the summit.   

The team J & J - Johann and Jayanthi- are doing research on their next big adventure. Well wishing Sri Lankans and supporters are looking forward to seeing how these two conquer the bigger mountains in the world, together. They say “It is not about conquering the mountain, but yourself”. The duo have already offered inspiration and become role models to the young Sri Lankans who are dreaming of the unthinkable.   


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