LEVEL PLAINS, Ala. (WDHN) — This week, a retired Army officer and former Level Plains councilman left for the trip of a lifetime halfway around the world.

James Bullinger, along with his friend, Enterprise High School engineering teacher Nick Ciuzio, are heading to Nepal to climb Mount Everest, the highest point in the world. Bullinger prepared for the climb by training in his neighborhood.

On Tuesday, he left for Nepal and will meet up with Ciuzio at the Kathmandu Airport on Thursday.

Ciuzio will make an attempt to reach the peak of Mount Everest at more than 29,000 feet. Bullinger will not attempt to reach the top of the mountain, but will climb to the mountain’s base camp at 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 65-year-old retired Army aviator, what drives Bullinger to push himself to new heights in life?

“Everest base camp has always been on my bucket list,” he said.. 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 Alabama after April 21. It will take Ciuzio into late May or early June to reach the peak of Everest.