Hurray – Team Sagarmatha have only gone and summited Everest in the Alps!
Brian Reid, our very own CFO, and the rest of Team Sagarmatha, have just returned from their mammoth challenge of scaling the height of Everest (that’s 8,848m) on skis for the amazing Brain Tumour Charity. We are oh-so-proud!
(If you haven’t read Part One of this story then here it is)
Here, Brian gives us a glimpse into what it was like with extracts from his personal diary…
None of us have had any sleep. Too excited. We also received a good luck message yesterday from the man himself Bear Grylls which was pretty great!
The day started with a 6am walk through the dark resort to the start point, where the weather was clear but very cold. What a relief to be underway after six months’ build up!
In the morning we can’t resist some powder skiing down following heavy snow from last night. This afternoon was really hot though which actually made for a much harder climb, but we managed to keep up a fast pace.
By the end of the day we got to our hut with 2,300m done. Team feeling good so we put in another 200m before sorting out sleeping arrangements – but failed to remove the snorers which was a rookie mistake. Before bed we all put stickers with messages on our boots and skis to keep us inspired and motivated.
Up at 5am today. Cold but clear, so another perfect day.
We started with a climb over into new valley and then a 1,100m climb through trees and the steep “rock garden” which required crampons. The afternoon was seriously tough. Technical, slow and steep. There may have been a few tears!
We finished with a big climb and made it back to 2,300m after 11.5 hours on the snow. Again we pushed up past the hut for an extra 200m. With 2,500m in the bag we’re feeling like we’ve broken the back of it. Jelly Babies have definitely been the key for any final pushes!
We celebrated two days down with half a beer each. Don’t want to go crazy!
We got woken up in the night with snow literally blowing through the front door into our beds. Howling winds then kept us up the rest of the night.
We started climbing in a blizzard with horizontal snow and ice forming on every exposed bit of skin. Temp was 11 below freezing and winds gusting at 50kph. We felt pretty miserable to be honest but our team was ahead of target which gave us a confidence boost.
Luckily before lunch the weather cleared and the sun came out. We then trailed through the trees and had to cross an avalanche.
Rob Ritchie, Toby’s father (the brave little boy living with a brain tumour) joined us and played a video message from Toby which made us ridiculously emotional.
In the afternoon we hit the trail again but against the clock. We needed to achieve 500m at a fast pace but the weather changed again which was horrible. This was definitely the hardest physical challenge so far but we managed to laugh and joke our way through.
Things got even better when our wives appeared to cheer us on – literally appeared through the fog – simply wonderful!
We ended the day with 2,300m done leaving a slightly more manageable 1,600m for Friday. When arriving back at the hut we found strawberries, banana cake and letters from the family on our beds that our wives had sneakily left us. Oh dear – more tears.
Last day with a very early start. We’re all feeling a bit emotional – nervous and excited.
Today is really icy but should have been an easy ride for us with less distance to climb. Until disaster struck. Chippy (James) slipped and to avoid Dom threw himself to floor, smashing both bindings. Luckily he was ok to climb but needed new skis to carry on which delayed us.
While waiting a local ski instructor came over to shake everyone’s hand. Many people we meet seem to know what we are doing which is so motivating as it’s all raising awareness.
Then disaster struck again as Chippy’s replacement ski slipped off down the mountain never to be found again. Our final ascent was delayed again as a third set of skis was sent up!
We then started our final climb where we were greeted by Bear Grylls who’d come to lend his support to all the teams.
Well they say back luck comes in threes – this time it was me when the skin came off my skis in the steepest past. Luckily with some foot strap tape we were off again for our final ascent.
As we walked over the finish line words can’t really describe how we felt. Months of training and preparation, hours of exhausting climbing, remembering lost friends and the courage of those living with brain tumours drove us on. All quite overwhelming as we finished together.
Well what an extraordinary week, although it does feel rather odd being home. All the preparation meant we could enjoy it more as the challenge became mental more than physical. Doing it with such an amazing team really is what helped us the most though.
Everyone has their Everest and we learned so much from our time with Rob and what it’s like to live as a family with a child with a tumour. What courage they have and so inspiring that rather than just focusing on their own family, they instead decided to help thousands more through the Everest Centre.
For more background or to donate now visit their Just Giving page here
Watch the Everest In the Alps video
Visit the Everest In the Alps website
Brain tumours – the ugly facts
Brain tumours are dramatically underfunded – it is the biggest cancer killer of people under the age of 40; it is the biggest cause of preventable and treatable blindness in children; just 19% of adults survive for 5 years after diagnosis; and yet it receives less than 2% of cancer funding in the UK.
The Brain Tumour Charity is the UK’s largest dedicated brain tumour charity, committed to fighting brain tumours on all fronts. They fund pioneering research to increase survival and improve treatment options as well as raising awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours to bring about earlier diagnosis. The Charity also provides support for everyone affected so that they can live as full a life as possible, with the best quality of life.
For more information: https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/
Be Head Smart and learn the signs to look out for: https://www.headsmart.org.uk/