A Life-Changing Decision
“One thing I’m going to do at some stage in my life is I’m going to walk to the top of the world and see the blue sky.”
Bobby Bajram made that promise to himself as a 13-year-old, after doctors told him he had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The promise would set him on a path to the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest.
In 1980, Bobby was the youngest person to be diagnosed with MS in Australian medical history, and regular trips to hospital, constant pain and significant weight gain would punctuate the years that followed.
“Regardless of a good day or bad day, I’m in 24-hour pain,” Bobby said.
“If you’ve ever sprained an ankle, broken a leg or a wrist – that’s the sort of pain I’m in from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.”
“On a bad day, I’m either wheelchair bound, can’t get out of bed or I’m using walking sticks.”
At his worst, Bobby weighed 142 kilograms and experienced periods of blindness due to his MS.
In 2010, Bobby said he was fed up with sitting at home and made a life changing decision to visit his local gym.
“I was a big fat guy eating comfort food like pizzas, and while I was depressed – I was frustrated, I felt shit and I’d take it out on food,” he said.
“I was 42, and one day I walked in using walking sticks to Fitness First and asked for the boss, which was Ian Dowson.
“He came over and asked, ‘What can I do for you?’ and I said, ‘I want to climb Mount Everest’. He looks at me and he goes, ‘Okay, why do you want to climb Everest?’
I told him my story, then he calls over his personal training manager Chris Pearce, and said, ‘Chris you’re going to train Bobby – he’s going to climb Mount Everest, see ya!’
It was quite funny, but that’s how it all started.”
Bobby has since dedicated himself to daily training, completely changed his diet, and, with Chris’s guidance, transformed his body. He has lost almost 60 kilograms over the past eight years and continues a strict regime of diet and exercise when his body allows him.
Working Towards Everest
Bobby has a single-minded focus of reaching the peak of Mount Everest. While this may seem like a pipe dream for a 50-year old man with MS, the reality is Bobby has attracted more than 100 sponsors to reach his goal, and has already scaled two of the world’s tallest peaks.
Bobby’s first significant climb was Nepal’s Kala Pattjar, which has an elevation of 5,643 metres. He enlisted the help of medical experts and a team of world-class climbers to reach the summit, and the successful climb left him wanting more.
In 2015, an attempt to scale Mera Peak (6,476 metres) almost ended in disaster, when an MS attack ended the attempt at 5,700 metres.
“They had to drag me down, I lost use of my legs and my eyes,” Bobby said of the attempt.
“My mind wanted to keep going, but my body told me that’s it.”
Bobby’s plan for his Everest climb will cost him more than $300,000. He will have a team of 23 people which includes Sherpas, cooks, porters, nurses, doctors and a paramedic.
Andrew Lock, one of Australia’s most accomplished high-altitude climbers, will lead the August expedition. Andrew has climbed all 14 of the world’s 8000 metre mountains.
Bobby said his main training base was at Falls Creek in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, but he had also made regular training tips to Mount Everest Base Camp.
“I’ve been to base camp maybe eight times,” he said. “The first time was a real shock, it took about nine days walking seven hours a day, it was torture, but the more you do something the better you get at it.”
“I’ve got to a stage where the base camp walk takes me about four or five days now.”
Counting Down The Days
Bobby remains around $200,000 short of his funding goal for the Everest climb, while his health has delayed attempts to climb the world’s tallest mountain.
He is in regular contact with his physician, Dr. Helmet Butzkueven, who has expressed grave concerns for Bobby, including the risk of death.
Bobby said he was realistic about the risks of his climb, and had developed a Risk Mitigation Plan.
“My doctor has said I’m going to die if I go that high; I will die because my MS is so severe, my nervous system will shut down,” he said.
“I’m not allowed to fly unless my doctor signs, but he’s a good bloke. I like him and he’s been my doctor for a long time.”
“He’s just looking out for me, but you know stranger things have happened.”
Give It Your Best Shot
Bobby is ambitious, his personality is infectious, and he is unique in his ability to work through pain to achieve his goals.
However, his message for people with disability and their carers is simple.
“The message I want to get out there for people with disabilities and their carers is to just give it your best shot – that’s what I am trying to advocate to people,” Bobby said.
“You don’t have to do amazing and crazy things like making it up and down Everest, it might be something as simple as getting out of the house, or going for a walk.”
“Just start – and that’s why I’m doing this, my message is, if you put your mind to something you can do it – have a go and see what happens.”
Bobby said MS was no longer something which defined his life.
“Depression is a common thing for people with disabilities, where people feel it’s too hard and they have no motivation,” he said.
“I’m just going to do my best to combat the disability, I’m going to do my best to deal with it and that’s what I say to people – get out there and do your best, whatever shape that might take.”
Follow Bobby’s journey to Everest by visiting www.bobbybajram.com
To contribute to Bobby’s climb visit www.gofundme.com/bobbybajram