LEVEL PLAINS, Ala. (WDHN) — Today, a retired Army officer and former Level Plains Councilman left for Nepal halfway around the world on a trip of a lifetime.

James Bullinger along with his friend, Enterprise High School engineering teacher Nick Ciuzio, are heading to Mt. Everest, the highest point in the world.

Bullinger trained in his neighborhood preparing for a mountain climb. On Tuesday, he left for Nepal and will rendezvous with Ciuzio at the Kathmandu Airport on Thursday.

Ciuzio will make an attempt to reach the peak of Mt. Everest at more than 29 thousand feet, but Bullinger will not attempt to reach the top but will climb to the mountain’s base camp which is more than 20,000 feet.

“So now I have put quite a few high-altitude climbs under my belt. And it keeps me stay physically fit. I’m under no medications. I’m in great shape and probably don’t look 65,” said Bullinger.

Recently, both Bullinger and Ciuzio were inductees into the Alabama Sports and Adventure Hall of Fame for their climbing exploits around the world. A “retired” Army aviator and at 65 years old, what drives Bullinger to push himself to new heights in life?

Bullinger says “Everest base camp has always been on my bucket list. And I’m excited about going with my friend Nick. I think tracking up the valley to the Everest base camp will be magnificent, the highlight of my life.”

Bullinger hopes to return home to the wiregrass after April 21, depending on weather conditions, and get out of the mountains and back to Kathmandu. It will take Ciuzio into late May or early June to reach the peak of Everest.

WDHN will give you periodic reports over the air and online on the status of both Bullinger and Cuizio’s respective climbs.