“Failure is not having the courage to try”
On 30 March 2011 I arrive in Nepal for the privileged opportunity of an attempt to climb to the summit of the planet at 8848m.
Tibetans call her “Chomolungma”, Mother Goddess of the Universe and to the Sherpa people of Nepal it is “Sagarmatha”, The Churning Stick in the Sea of Existence. Westerners call her “Mt Everest’ (after the British surveyor Sir George Everest).
A small window to reach the summit generally presents itself for one week each year (when the jet stream winds at the summit drop just before the onset of Monsoon season) typically somewhere between mid to late May. Depending on when the mountain offers passage, I will be on the mountain for a total of 2 to 2.5 months.
Most of this time will be spent acclimatizing moving up/down to/from progressively higher altitudes, but when the summit weather window is forecast (not always with certainty), we will make a 6 day push from Base Camp to the summit, with summit day generally lasting 18 hours (mostly in the so-called “Death Zone”) on the back of 5 days of little sleep or food.
I have never trained as hard as I have in the last 6 months and never wish to again. Aside from the lofty goal of life-peak aerobic fitness I have also managed to increase my weight from my usual 72.5kg to almost 80kg, mostly in muscle, knowing that on Everest, climbers typically lose 20% of their body weight and I am keen to start summit day with some skin on my bones.
Aside from leaving my wife as a single mum for the period I will be away climbing, she has suffered without complaint through my absence as a husband and father as I have prepared for this trip and for her unquestioning support in chasing this dream, I thank her with all my heart and I know she will be with me every step of the way.
I would ask that, should you feel so inclined, you show your support for my trip by donating to an educational Scholarship Program for around 70 underprivileged Nepalese children based in Kathmandu. The Program is run by Australian charity Sunrise Children’s Association Incorporated (SCAI) and their local partners Sunrise Orphanage Nepal. Refer www.scai.org.au. All donations are tax deductible in Australia.
Sadly, thousands of children in Nepal are sent from their homes to orphanages in Kathmandu by their parents in the hope of a better future for their children. Primary motivations are a desire for their children to have better food, medical care and education.
In order for children to be accepted by some orphanages, parents may bribe relevant authorities to sign false paperwork stating that they are dead, whereabouts unknown or are too ill to care for their children. This often then tragically means that the parents cannot or do not see their children again.
The Scholarship Program supports local families, in particular single mothers who face great hardship, with education for the children at a local school and some basic needs for the family to encourage the parent/s to keep the children at home rather than abandoning them.
The scholarship program has been running for two years and its funding expired at the end of 2010. The total cost of the scholarship program budget for 2011 is $17,000pa and my wife and I will underwrite whatever shortfall exists after all your donations have been received to ensure none of the kids miss out in 2011. If we exceed our target the excess will go towards funding the program in 2012.
You can donate online at www.givenow.com.au. Simply type “Sunrise Children’s Association Inc” in the Keywords search on the home page, click on the link called “Sunrise Children’s Association Inc Community Development Appeal” (Givenow Ref 566) and follow the prompts. Please be sure to type in “Paul/Everest” under “Special Messages” so we can identify your donation. If you do not wish to pay via credit card, please contact Bec Stafford at Hamton (03 9522 8426) to arrange for donations by cheque and for corresponding receipts.
All good karma produced via your donations will be greatly appreciated.
I am climbing as part of a private expedition with Adventure Consultants (AC). I have my own western guide and Sherpa support and whilst at times we may shadow the main AC expedition of around 7 climbers, we can and will move independently on the mountain, particularly at the “business end” of proceedings.
If you are interested, you will be able to stay in touch with our progress via regular dispatches on the AC website at www.adventureconsultants.com.
Thanks in advance for everyone’s support.
Below are some pictures of some of the kids which the Scholarship Program ensures avoid the risk of abandonment and receive an education (and hopefully a bright future).
Amidst the postcard perfect smiles and colourful celebrations of the Nepalese people lurks the following statistics:
· Average annual income of US$240
· 49% of the 26.3m population live in absolute poverty
· 47% are unemployed
· Literacy is generously estimated at 29%
· Over 2.6m child labourers
· Infant mortality rate of children under 5 years is 10.4%