If you enjoy hiking, be prepared, for it may lead you to unimaginable heights. One man, who once took leisurely strolls along Hong Kong's hillsides, has conquered Mount Everest and tackles the most challenging terrain in the world. Conrad Anker, one of the world's finest mountaineers, lived in Hong Kong for two years. The 42-year-old American visited the SAR last week to share his mountain-climbing experiences with local enthusiasts. Best known for his remarkable discovery of the body of the first Everest explorer in 1999, Anker has scaled peaks in Alaska, Antarctica and in the Himalayas. 'My dream was always to be in the mountains,' says Anker, who grew up in Montana, where he now lives. He studied at Hong Kong International School in 1973-74, while his father worked here. Anker has had several close calls during expeditions. An avalanche in Tibet killed his climbing friend, Alex Lowe, in 1999, but he survived. He had another lucky escape when he fell 30 metres off a mountain in Alaska. Anker says: 'I fell into this big lump of snow. I was standing on this platform. And then the snow gave way, and I tumbled down, landed, and saw stars. I couldn't breathe. 'I was thinking 'I'm lucky to be alive'. I climbed back up and we skiied out. It was an experience I will never forget.' Six years ago, Anker stumbled across the battered body of George Mallory, a legendary Everest climber who was lost attempting to reach the summit. In 1924, Mallory and partner Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine disappeared after last being seen 'moving expeditiously' towards the top of Everest. 'Mallory and Irvine was always this great big mystery - could they have done it 29 years before the first official ascent in 1953?' Anker says. 'Big steps have been made since the 1920s. But their heart and their motivation is the same [as today's climbers]. 'When people go out to explore, it's because it's unknown. Whether it's a physical unknown or an unknown in your own mind, you want to try and find an answer to it. 'You have to lose yourself to find yourself - get lost in the effort and the challenge. You come back and find you've had this really rich experience.' Anker says climbing is a true team sport. 'I'm a sporty person but I'm not competitive with other people. My goal is to help people. If we go climbing, your life is in my hands and vice versa. Everyone is a winner in climbing when you get down safely. 'A good team is based on communicating and planning things. Equipment is important, but who you go with is more of a wildcard. People can get aggressive or spacey under pressure.' Anker is currently engaged in the North Face Himalayan Cataract Project, which aims to cure preventable blindness in Asia. Under the programme, more than 300 eye surgeries have been performed on poor villagers in Nepal. Anker says climbing inspired him to be involved in such work. 'If I'm good to people and I'm kind to people, it brings happiness to myself,' he says.