Climbing new heights for Greeks
In a bid to change people’s perceptions of Greeks, and to draw attention towards a positive outcome of how Greeks can succeed, Melbourne’s Anthony Kontekakis decided to challenge himself in a very physical way, by attempting a feat only for the brave.
Namely, climbing Mount Everest. “Lately all I’ve been hearing is negative feed back regarding the economy and Greece’s rights,” he explains. “I wanted to remind every one of where we came from and the amazing things Greeks have accomplished. “We are such an athletic nation, so why not show them?” This year, the 29-year-old embarked on a solo adventure and climbed to the base camp of the gruelling and unrelenting mountain in Nepal.
Along with his guide, Kontekakis spent ten days climbing battling treacherous weather as he chose to climb in winter and tested his physical abilities in altitudes unknown to him. Always up for a challenge, it was a chance meeting with fellow hikers at Werribee Gorge that sparked the idea in Kontekakis’ mind to climb the infamous mountain.
After the hikers told him they were training for the climb of their lives, he decided to do it too. And after six months of training found himself in Nepal in the height of winter. A keen hiker, Kontekakis climbed 5,550 metres in 14 days. “It’s a weird feeling,” says Kontekakis remembering how he felt at the foot of the mountain. Before the climb, he prepared by enduring many uphill climbs and some rock climbing and a lot of reading educating himself on health risks such as swelling of the brain and fluid in the lungs that pose serious life threatening issues for the climbers.
“Something might come up and you think ‘is this it’? Especially after 4000 metres, you hear your heart beat and it pounds at night,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
“Every night I was thinking ‘am I going to wake up?’ as my heart was really pounding in my chest as it’s trying to pump around all the blood with no oxygen so there were a lot of mind games at night because during the day you just concentrate on the hike,” As he works in IT and is constantly surrounded by technology, he pursues activities that enable him to leave his iPhone behind; a way to calm his soul and spirit.
Last weekend, Kontekakis along with his brother-in-law Mani Lionakis did the Ride to Conquer Cancer, cycling over 200 kms in the two-day event in Melbourne. He says by pursuing these activities, it also raises the profile of the Pancretan Association of Melbourne; his father John was just voted in as the public relations officer.