The past few months have been a truly epic journey- and now just a month remains before I depart the UK to Nepal for my two month expedition to climb Everest on the 28th of March.
I was involved in the April 2014 tragedy where 16 Sherpa guides tragically lost their lives in a huge avalanche on Mount Everest. My expedition was eventually cancelled and I returned home, having not stepped above base camp. This was my second visit to Nepal, after an attempt to climb Baruntse, 7129m, in November 2013. On the treks in I have always been blown away by the striking natural beauty of the Himalayan landscape and especially the hospitable, warming, happy and charismatic nature of the Nepalese Sherpa people we met during the trips. Therefore, it was extremely upsetting to see them so badly affected by the huge loss of life and the political strife that ensued to leave further scars on the region. I felt compelled to give back to these gratified people who do so much and ask for so little, as they had lost their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons- and often the backbone of their entire family.
To build momentum, fundraise for the Sherpa victims and get into peak condition for my second attempt on Everest 2015 – I devised a series of seven ultra-endurance challenges called the EPIC7. The idea being to push myself mentally and physically, whilst being low cost with a unique twist. The Himalayan Trust UK seemed like the most appropriate and specific charity supporting the work where I felt it was needed most.
My first EPIC7 challenge was the toughest cycling sportive in the UK – the Fred Whitton Sportive. I didn’t enter the organised annual event with marshals and feed stations… I just hopped on the bike and did the route. Over 115 miles with over 12,000ft of ascent up all the high passes in the Lake District in one day.
A few weeks later followed EPIC7 #2- the Welsh 3000s. This involves climbing the 15 highest mountains in Wales over 3000ft within 24 hours. That’s over 12,000ft of ascent and 32 miles of walking. I completed it in 18 hours 45 minutes – completely solo and unsupported, the youngest person to do it solo. It seems insignificant considering the distances that the Sherpa guides and Porters make during trekking season!
In August I cycled from my hometown of Chester to Chamonix in the Alps in just 8 days- about 880 miles. Once again fully unsupported and solo – the hardest week of my life. Once in Chamonix, bruised, elated and about 7lbs lighter, EPIC7 number 4 was then the highest peak in Switzerland- the Dom des Mischabel.
EPIC7 #5 was epic in every sense. At the end of October, I cycled the National 3 Peaks Challenge… walking the 3 highest mountains in the UK and cycling 440 miles in between in 4 days. It had never been done so late in the year- nor entirely solo. I finished on Ben Nevis in about five metres visibility at about 1:30am!
Two more of my challenge series remain. I have already had the support of Sir Chris Bonington and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and have a book due out this year. As well as fundraising, my aim is to inspire others to achieve their potential and give back in the process of achieving my own dream. I am fortunate to have two headline sponsors – The Westgrove Group, a bespoke cleaning and security solutions firm, and Active Cheshire, an organisation aiming to get 50,000 people in Cheshire and Warrington more active by 2017.
I have raised nearly £1,000 so far and in the spirit of overcoming adversity, I will continue to support the Himalayan Trust’s fantastic work as much as possible and really hope people will join me on my journey.
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