Last year, I turned back at 7,900m on the north ridge of Everest due to low energy levels - I didn't want to climb into the Death Zone above 8,000m without being certain I could get myself safely home, without relying on others. I was moving strongly up to 7,000m, but above that I struggled really badly to eat or sleep and to replenish my energy levels. I started to be overtaken by other team members and I had to double my oxygen flow rate just to make camp at 7,900m, at which point I made the difficult decision to descend.
After a major storm at that camp the following night, which required an emergency descent, my team-mate Mike was badly injured after running out of oxygen at 7,500m. He suffered multiple blood clots on his lung, became temporarily wind-blind and suffered severe frostbite. He was eventually rescued and helped down to basecamp by Sherpas, where I coordinated his medical treatment and his safe evacuation to hospital in Kathmandu, since the leader was still up at 7,000m. Mike has now recovered but recently had half of one finger amputated.
Since returning from Everest, I've given 16 talks at a range of business and schools, including Citrix, Scottish Power Renewables, ScotJCB and Research Councils UK. I've also spoken at Morrison's Academy, Royal Grammar School Newcastle, and at many other schools in my capacity as a Polar Ambassador and have inspired hundreds of pupils to follow their own dreams. I've turned my personal disappointment on Everest into a very positive force for good.
I'm now heading back to Everest in April 2018 to make a second attempt to climb Mount Everest to raise funds for Finding Your Feet & support families affected by amputation or limb difference
When a friend's sister Corinne Hutton fell ill in June 2013 after suffering acute pneumonia and septicemia, surgeons were forced to amputate both her hands and her legs below the knee. Following her near-fatal illness, Corinne made remarkably swift progress, defying the odds and the doctors, walking unaided on prosthetic legs within four months. Corinne now devotes her life to supporting others who face limb loss - immediately following her illness, Corinne set up Finding Your Feet to support families affected by amputation or limb difference, through a range of sporting initiatives and social inclusion projects.
Isolation is a huge problem for many amputees. It has been proven that quality of life and even life expectancy is greatly reduced without social inclusion, with as many as 30% not surviving to one year post amputation. FYF are key in addressing this issue. They are directly saving lives! They run over 50 clubs per month in Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Leeds. These include swimming, skiing, climbing, gardening, crafting, pilates, fitness and their most popular ‘Ampu-teas’ session where their ‘Troopers’ meet up for a coffee and chat.
Watching Corinne's moving journey and witnessing Mike's injury on Everest and subsequent recovery has inspired me to raise funds for Finding Your Feet - but I need your help to make this expedition happen.
Over the course of two months from 7 April to 13 June 2018, I'll attempt to climb Mount Everest (8,848m) via the North Ridge route in Tibet. I've spent the last decade organising and completing sixteen expeditions to the world’s greater ranges - I’ve climbed four of the seven continental summits, and climbed to a maximum altitude of 7,900m last year. I recently became the first Brit in twenty years to reach the technical summit of Mawenzi, the second highest summit on Kilimanjaro and reached the summit of Kilimanjaro for the second time two days' later.
This year, I'll be taking additional oxygen and hiring a personal Sherpa, who will move with me to the high camps and to the summit. This will also mean I can spend more time resting at high camps, rather than melting snow for water etc. I'm going with a very small team - a British leader, two Sherpas and three clients (including me). All of these factors will maximise my chance of reaching the summit. I can use oxygen from 7,000m and my personal Sherpa will help me change oxygen and melt snow and prepare food at high camps, and help me change oxygen bottles on summit day. As a small team we have more flexibility to make a summit attempt with small weather windows.
I'll fly to Kathmandu, then drive overland to Chinese basecamp at 5,200m. My team will 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.
I've invested my life savings to follow my dream, but I'm looking to secure corporate sponsorship or individual pledges to directly 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 £24,000
(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
- Oxygen Uplift £1,000
- Equipment £2,000
- Satcomms £1,000
- Insurance £1,500
- Public Relations £500
- Miscellaneous (tips etc.) £2,500
I'm inviting individuals, companies & schools to help contribute to these costs for a variety of amazing rewards. I'd be extremely grateful if you would consider supporting and joining me on this remarkable adventure!