PokerStars on the top of the world

ps_news_thn.jpgGetting to base camp was like arriving in a new home. To just get to the beginning was a journey in itself, one bigger than most people take in their lives. Above them loomed Mt. Everest, the world's tallest peak, one of the most forbidding places in the world, and the mission of two Patagonian brothers, Damien and Willie Benegas.

This was nothing new for them, however. They had conquered Everest an incredible nine times before, and now they were making a world-record-matching tenth attempt, this time with PokerStars as their sponsor as they sought to make history.

For forty days and nights, they planned their assault on the mountain from base camp. Although it was in one of the world's harshest places, the brothers said at the time, "Compared to the trek, we are living the high life."

It had taken them forever to get there, 36 miles of hiking over rock and ice. They arrived to base camp at 20,000 feet, a huge snow-covered glacier with tents tucked into the ice walls, each representing one of the teams planning to summit the giant mountains around them.

"We all felt the high altitude, and steepness of the mountains--we constantly needed to stop for breaks to catch our breath," Willie said. "At the end, we sat on the summit and enjoyed the majestic views of the Himalayas. It was quite a moment--our first summit as a team."

The mountain was their mission. The Patagonian brothers were climbing Everest in an attempt to clean up the hundreds and hundreds of pounds of litter that gets left behind by the climbers on the way up. That is, most people climb Everest to take part in one of mankind's greatest feats. These brothers did it to clean up.

They sat at base camp and participated in a Puja, a ceremony in which they asked the gods permission to climb Everest. They sat with monks, threw rice in the air as offering to the gods, and then drank rice win in Nepali celebration.

Sure, they had to find ways to pass the time. How else would you expect them to get through more than a month on a glacier.

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They trained, waking up some days at 4am to beat the sun and potential avalanches. They would climb as high as 6,000 meters just to acclimate themselves to the altitude. They trained harder in those 40 days than most people do in an entire year.

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A small avalanche near base camp

It was altruism, conservation, and the spirit of adventure than drove the two men across 36 miles to base camp. It was intelligence that kept them there for 40 days of training and acclimation. It was sheer will that drove the Benegas brothers to the top of Mount Everest.

They'd collected 4,500 kilos of garbage, and now their only mission was to make it to the top.

It is among the most grueling adventures a person can make. To make it to the top means climbing nearly 30,000 feet above sea level. More than 200 people have died trying to make the climb. The brothers did it nine times before...and now they had done it a world record-matching tenth.

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The PokerStars-sponsored Patagonian brothers found that their training and preparation paid off. The result? PokerStars at the top of the world.

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Congratulations and thanks to the Benegas brothers for their altruism, spirit, and record-matching tenth ascent to the highest peak on the planet.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in PokerStars news