Our heroes

Odd Eliassen

The last real adventurer

Odd Eliassen is a carpenter. He is also one of the best mountain climbers in the world. Also known as Mr Kilimanjaro, Odd has conquered this particular mountain more than 80 times.

Odd is not a flashy star. He is not a typical hero who is frequently publicised, talked about or notoriously rumoured. On the contrary, Odd Eliassen is one of us – and we love heroes we can identify with. People who achieve great things, reach their goals without any fuzz. They are modest, almost shy, persons you would pass by on the street without even noticing them. That being said, Odd Eliassen is a real hero. He has climbed Kilimanjaro more than 80 times, he was the first to climb Trollveggen in 1965 and he reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1985.  In addition, Odd Eliassen has a big heart. He has contributed more to the well-being of the trekking sherpas and guides than anyone by showing them respect, making sure they are being paid for the job they do and the risk they take and providing adequate equipment for them.

And not to forget; he may be one of the best mountain climbers in the world.

In 1985, a group of Norwegian climbers set out on a Mount Everest expedition. No Norwegian had reached the summit of the monster mountain before. There were two teams consisting of experienced Norwegian mountain climbers, among who the prolific businessman Arne Næss Jr. was part of Team 1. Odd Eliassen was on Team 2. It was quite an intense competition between the two teams.

In the morning of 21st  April 1985, Odd Eliassen and his teammate, Bjørn Myrer Lund, became the first Scandinavians to reach the summit of Mount Everest followed by the Englishman Chris Bonington and the sherpas Pertemba, Ang Lhakpa Dorje and Dawa Nuru. 

After reaching the top, they got Næss on the radio saying:
“You have to come down now so we can get off this goddamn mountain.”
“No,” replied Odd Eliassen, “you have to get up here.”

Eight days later, Team 1 reached the summit.

Photo: private

Throughout the years,  Odd Eliassen has been on many expeditions. Every expedition leader wants to have Odd Eliassen on the team. He is synonymous with features such as “safe and sound, no-nonsense, stable, knows-how-to-get-us-out-here-alive-“ kind of guy. He loves to go out there for the sake of adventure and to challenge nature. In addition to climbing, an interest he achieved as a 15-year-old kid, he has been on numerous expeditions to Antarctic, Himalaya, Caucasus and half of Africa. 

Photo: Johan Wildhagen

The King of Kili. Odd Eliassen went to Tanzania in the early 1970’s on a three-year contract for NORAD (The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) with a mission to build and establish a number of cabins in the Kilimanjaro National Park. Today, Odd is a highly respected man who has many friends there. Odd Eliassen climbed Uhuru Peak 44 times during these years.

In 2015 Odd Eliassen received the merited award Årets Fjellgeit (Mountain goat of The year). When asked why he thought he was qualified for the award, he replied: «I am just a guy who has been walking and skiing for quite some time».

Odd is not a snob. If you see him on his way somewhere in Jotunheimen, he will probably wear gloves he bought on the flea market and use the same sticks he used in The Antarctic 25 years ago. If you meet Odd Eliassen in the mountains, follow his tracks, but make sure you stay behind him – it is probably the world’s safest back to follow.

Photo: Matti Bernitz

Facts Odd Eliassen

  • Born 3. May 1944
  • Norwegian climber and adventurer
  • The first person to climb Trollveggen in 1965 with Patterson, Enersen and Teigland
  • Reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1985
  • Climbed Kilimanjaro more than 80 times
  • Received Årets Fjellgeit award in 2015 
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