MEXICO-based David Liano Gonzalez, the first mountaineer to complete a double summit of Mount Everest in one season and who has climbed the world’s highest peak six times, was in the city on Thursday to raise awareness about depression through the organisation he is associated with – Live Love Laugh Foundation.
“Depression is a cause that is very close to me. I have seen what getting help does, and I’ve seen what not getting help does. And thus, it is not just a social cause for me, but also a personal one,” says Gonzales, who has lost family members to untreated depression.
The 36-year-old first started climbing on the volcanic slopes outside his hometown at the age of 13. Over two decades of mountaineering later, Gonzalez is a Guinness World Record holder with six Everest summits, including the record-breaking double summit, both versions of the Seven Summits, and countless other peaks to his credit.
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In 2015, having climbed Everest five times, Gonzalez planned to make his sixth summit without supplemental oxygen, but was interrupted by the Nepal earthquake. “We were extremely lucky we were away from the avalanches,” he says. “It’s surprising that 19 people died at the base camp. If you had asked me before the expedition, I would have said that was the safest place.”
Despite the dangers, Gonzalez returned this spring to complete the challenge in partnership with the Live Love Laugh Foundation to raise awareness for depression, a social issue he believes needs more attention. “The first way I could help out was by raising awareness and trying to remove the stigma that depression has attached to it.”
After stepping onto the world’s highest point for the sixth time, Gonzalez planted the Live Love Laugh banner in the snow and shared the hashtag, #YouAreNotAlone, to remind those suffering from depression that there are always people ready to do whatever it takes to help them and that complete strangers can be ready and willing to champion their cause.
Besides Mountaineering, Gonzalez is an accomplished sailor and has been paragliding for nearly a decade, and uses it as a way off the summit. To him, paragliding can be the safest way down, with the requisite experience of course.
“All of the deaths this year (on Everest) happened on the way down. Statistically, it’s the most dangerous part of the climb,” says the mountaineer, who will be travelling to Europe to compete in the Paragliding World Cup in Portugal after his India visit.