Making his first the biggest

High school principal chooses hiking Mt. Everest for his first trip outside the country. He says the peak and his life have similarities.

April 20, 2011|By Mona Shadia,

Paul Morrow, principal at Marina High School, had never left the United States.

That all changed last week when Morrow, 57, left to climb Mt. Everest.

This journey will mark the end of reading about the world and the beginning of seeing it, he said.

"I can tell you a lot about Huntington Beach, but I can't tell you much about the rest of the world," said Morrow, a 30-year Huntington Beach resident. "To me, I hope it's the beginning of many experiences. But right now, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me to get out and experience the world."

Morrow plans to hike to the Base Camp on the side of the mountain. He plans to share his experience as he goes on his blog at It will take him about 60 hours of hiking.


Morrow will have a tour guide. Originally, he was going to go with two Australian women, but they rescheduled their trip, according to his blog, which he updated April 14 from Hong Kong before heading to Bangladesh, then Nepal.

"One day, I'd love to get to the top," he said. "You could actually see the curvature of the earth from there."

Along his journey, Morrow will rest up at tea houses in various Nepalese villages.

"I'm going to see what normal life is for people who don't live in Huntington Beach — what it's like to live in Nepal and to live in a village," he said. "I'm sure it's different from here, from having Direct TV access, television, Starbucks and a gas station on every corner. How do they live, what are their thoughts, beliefs and history?"

There are parallels between Mt. Everest and Morrow's life.

"There's a lot of tragedy up on that mountain, and there's also a lot of conquest and excitement and new ventures and new perspective," he said.

His mother, whom he refers to as his best friend and whom he spent years taking care of, recently passed away. Then his brother had a heart attack and another brother had a cancer scare, he said. Both brothers have overcome their health obstacles.

Morrow was also involved in a car accident about a year ago when a drunk driver hit him and his assistant principal, Jeanne Ellis, while on the freeway. The accident left Morrow, a skilled surfer, unable to do the sport he enjoyed.

"I came pretty close to not being able to do anything," he said. "It's time for me to do something for me and see that joy that comes from exploring our world."

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