Calgary high school teacher Andrew Brash was nearly at the top of the world, when compassion won out over ambition.

Brash is one of those high school teachers students relate to, not just because of his personality and teaching style, but also his life and stories outside of the classroom.

Brash is a mountain climber and in 2006 his dream was to summit Mount Everest.

"I remember being very optimistic at the beginning of the trip and I always thought I would do it and walking away from the mountain in kind of shock actually," Brash says. "I really thought I was going to be able to do this."

Brash and his climbing team abandoned their summit attempt 200 metres from the top when they came upon Australian climber Lincoln Hall.

He was suffering from a lack of oxygen and other climbers had already passed by him, not expecting him to make it.

But Brash and his climbing partners decided to attempt a rescue, even though it didn't look promising.

In doing so, they made international headlines.

"I just remember it as a very intense few hours and it was a mixture of feelings. We thought he wasn't going to make it so we were feeling pretty down, questioning what you're doing," he says.

Hall did survive and described his experience on an Australian TV show a few years ago.

It was a life-changing event for both Hall and Brash.

"What it has done I think for me, is made me realize life is fun, life is exciting, life is something to be cherished and that's been great. So I wouldn't change it no," Brash says.

His students know the story but it's also what Brash does in the classroom that inspires them to greater heights.

"Lots of things inspiring me about Mr. Brash just like in general because of the type of teacher he is," says student Jason Sidhu.

"It's what he does inside the class. He tries to teach us way more than what we should learn and what will be better for us," adds student Fatihullah Moulawizada.

Brash returned to Everest in 2008 and made the summit.

He still keeps in touch with Hall and says they've spoken many times. Hall has even visited him in Calgary.

As for climbing, Brash says there are still a few peaks he'd like to conquer but nothing as challenging as Everest.