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The Mother of all Mountains

I made the decision to climb Everest back in 2014. I’d already reached the summit of Manaslu, the world’s 8th highest mountain, in September 2013. Before that I’d said no to Everest swayed by the negative journalism, the commercialism, the ‘buy your way onto the mountain’ attitude – but, probably, most of all because I did not think I was capable. However, I decided that I’d said no too many times in my past life – I had never even thought I was capable of walking up Snowdon in years gone by! I wanted to climb Everest to test my capabilities, face my fears and do it for everyone who I’ve had the pleasure of leading up a mountain, in the UK and abroad.

So there I was, in April 2015, at Camp 1 on Everest when the earthquake struck causing death and destruction through a huge area of Nepal. The most terrifying 30 seconds ensued and the following 10 days of my life were sobering. I had been given the opportunity to climb Everest through sponsorship and once back down to base camp and, having found my mobile in the pure destruction that was our section of the camp, I was given a second chance.

On our way up to summit Vignemale, French Pyrenees
Training: on our way up to summit Vignemale, French Pyrenees

So more training, more fundraising for Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity I was supporting, and more kit selection was the order of the next 12 months. It was all consuming. I work as an Outdoor Instructor and Expedition Leader so I am lucky to be out in the hills and mountains of this wonderful world for most of the year. Great ‘on the job training’. I guide on Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, on 6000m peaks in Nepal as well as leading bike rides in the UK and Europe for private clients and charity fundraisers and teaching the expedition element of Duke of Edinburgh Award to willing and not so willing students.

Up to the summit of the Petit Vignemale. Focused!
Up to the summit of the Petit Vignemale. Focused!

Roll on March 2016 and off I was, once again, to Everest. My Páramo Enduro waterproof, Ventura Windproof and Fleece a staple part of my kit, kit that I had a great amount of trust in.

So why the Enduro and not the Ventura? A kind individual had lent me the jacket and although a men’s, it fitted well over bulkier down jackets and the various layers I would be wearing on this expedition. Yes, I would have preferred the Ventura but gift horses and all that!

I’d taken the Ventura windproof and fleece out to Elbrus in July 2015 and instantly knew that they would become staple parts of my expedition kit. Each has its own windproof and water resistant merits but when worn in combination they form a great waterproof layer enabling you to keep on going even when things start to get a bit soggy overhead and underfoot.

All the kit performed superbly, as I knew it would, as I’ve been wearing Páramo kit on work and personal expeditions for a while now.

Between C1 and C2 in the Western Cwm on Everest, team work at its best.
Between C1 and C2 in the Western Cwm on Everest, team work at its best.

Reaching the summit on 19th May was exhilarating. I sat on the summit for all of 15 minutes, thinking how I had gone from a no-saying, risk-averse business advisor to a high altitude, downsuit-wearing mountaineer – a result of my own hard work and the huge support of those around me.

Roger Cook and I rocking it in our Páramo on the summit of Vignemale.
Roger Cook and I rocking it in our Páramo on the summit of Vignemale.

Onwards and upwards and onto the next two of the 7 Summits which will be numbers 5 and 6 for me, namely Carstensz Pyramid and Denali, during this year. Mt Vinson (no. 7) is in the pipeline.

Exciting times ahead with more fitness training, more skills training and more fundraising for Place2Be. Here’s to an exciting 2017!

2 thoughts on “The Mother of all Mountains

  1. What a great story. I have to agree paramo gear is good I have used it in the Scottish hills for the past 8years and it is always done the job.

  2. Looking good Jo – we hope you have another very successful year!
    Keith & Anne

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