My twin uncles - Patrick and Michael McGowan - were both taken by cancer. We lost Michael in 1998 at the age of 58. We lost Patrick in 2008 at the age of 69. Their passing was devastating, but Patrick’s final weeks and months were eased by the incredible support provided by hard-working, compassionate and dedicated Macmillan nurses. The family will always be grateful for that support. This expedition is the culmination of a lifelong dream to stand on the highest point on earth. By doing so, I would like to honour my uncles' memory and raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support to help other families who need support. I would also become one of a handful of people who have climbed Everest and completed the Marathon des Sables, the toughest footrace on earth, which I achieved in 2004.
Over the course of two months from 6 April to 4 June 2017, I will now attempt to climb Mount Everest - the highest mountain on earth at 8,848m - via the North Ridge route in Tibet. To prepare for this expedition, I've spent the last decade organising and completing fifteen expeditions to the world’s greater ranges - I’ve climbed four of the seven continental summits, and climbed to a maximum altitude of 6,962m on the summit of Aconcagua. I've climbed on some of the world's most iconic peaks, including Khan Tengri, Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Matterhorn, Aconcagua, Elbrus and Damavand. I’ve completed solo ascents of several Grade II winter routes in Scotland and Wales, a solo ascent of Mont Blanc and an unguided attempt on the Matterhorn. I’ve climbed up to winter Grade IV in Scotland.
The expedition is not ‘guided’, but there is a team leader who will coordinate all of the logistics and our movement on the mountain. There are group sherpas employed to carry some of the group gear, but no personal sherpas so I will be fully self-sufficient i.e. I will carry all my own gear and will be cooking my own food and melting water etc. above base camp. I'll be provided with 5 bottles of oxygen. I'll fly into Lhasa from Kathmandu, then drive 900km overland across Tibet to basecamp at 5,200m. With my team, I'll establish four camps above base camp, with the highest camp at 8,300m, which is in the 'Death Zone' and equivalent to the cruising altitude of a commercial airliner - and where the oxygen pressure is only 36% compared to sea level. I'll spend six weeks slowly climbing up the mountain to set up and stock the higher camps and to acclimatise fully, before descending back down to base camp to rest and recuperate. I’ll then spend up to seven days climbing back up through the camps to make my final summit bid.
The North Ridge Route:
A British team led by George Mallory in 1921 first attempted Everest’s North Ridge route – they reached the North Col at 7,003m, which is now the normal site for Camp 1. A 1924 British expedition with Mallory and Irvine is most notable for the mystery of whether they summited or not - Mallory’s body was found in 1999 it is still uncertain whether he reached the summit. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed Everest for the first time from the South via Nepal in 1953. A Chinese team made the first summit from Tibet on May 25, 1960. Tibet was closed to foreigners from 1950 to 1980 preventing any further attempts until a Japanese team summitted in 1980. Overall, the north side of the mountain has more technically difficulty than the south side (although fixed ropes/ladders are placed) and is significantly colder and windier. However, there is no need to cross the icefall that sits on the south side, which is inherently unstable.
I've invested my life savings to follow my dream. I've been fortunate to secure some corporate sponsorship, but still have a signifcant funding shortfall. I am raising funds for Macmillan on my JustGiving page where all funds raised go directly to Macmillan, however a number of people have asked how they can support me directly to help offset my expedition costs, or help me buy some of the very expensive but essential items of high-altitude equipment. My costs are broken down as follows:
- In-Country Logistics £21,000
(including permit, group equipment, base camp and advanced base camp cook, meals & drinks, overland transport, accommodation, yak transport, tents, stoves etc.)
- Flights & excess baggage £1,000
- Equipment £4,000
- Satcomms £1,000
- Insurance £1,000
- Public Relations £500
- Miscellaneous (tips etc.) £2,500
I am inviting individuals to help contribute to these costs for a variety of rewards. I'd be extremely grateful if you would consider supporting and joining me on this remarkable adventure!