“I HAVE MY CHALLENGES – THEY DON’T HAVE ME”
It’s quite a mystery how I became interested in the outdoors… let alone Everest!
Years ago, I was:
- Afraid to be left alone, in fear of having another epileptic seizure – at nine years old.
- Hiding in the toilets at school through the anxiety of speaking in class.
- Throwing phones across the room in frustration at being unable to say my own name.
- Feeling worthless and utterly helpless due to bullying – both physical and verbal.
- Stuck in the depths of depression, panic attacks and eating disorders.
- Devoid of self-confidence, self-esteem or ambition in my young life.
Now 21 years old, I have learnt that we can’t always control what obstacles are put in our path. But we can control how we respond to them.
A fateful urge to try paragliding on holiday in Turkey aged 13 unearthed my passion for challenge and adventure – a way to prove myself and the bullies wrong. Scuba diving, rock climbing, mountain biking, running… I was eager to find out what else I could overcome.
My outdoor interest had gone no further than watching wildlife in my village near Chester. After proudly climbing my first mountain, Ben Nevis, a walk in the Lake District in 2010 inspired the question ‘Where is Mount Everest?’. The question captivated me. Every single day since I thought about this ultimate challenge; learning, growing and taking the necessary steps. Doing the Three Peaks Challenge in 2011 was the earliest step before climbing Mont Blanc, and heading to the Himalayas for the first time aged 18 to climb Baruntse.
Mine is not your typical Everest story; nor did I have wealthy parents to simply sign a cheque for the expedition fee! Since leaving sixth form college I have funded my adventures singlehandedly through corporate sponsorship and various jobs – from washing dishes to mowing lawns!
In 2014 my first attempt to climb Everest ended in disaster with an avalanche which tragically killed sixteen people. In 2015 I returned; this time I was on the mountain with my team when a huge earthquake struck Nepal and devastated the country. Base camp was badly hit by an avalanche and we were trapped at Camp 1 for two days. Sadly, three team members at base camp lost their lives.
I began fundraising for Nepal by cycling the height of Everest in one day (known as ‘Everesting’) and organising Walk4Nepal on the anniversary of the earthquake raising over £20,000. I was also chosen to carry the London 2012 Olympic flame through Chester as a result of my charity work and wildlife campaigning.
I’m proud to be a young ambassador for Westgrove Group, YHA England & Wales, PHASE Worldwide and Viewranger.
In 2016 I released my debut book ICEFALL, endorsed by Bear Grylls, and have contributed to Trail magazine and Ripcord Adventure Journal.
Everest is just one step on my journey. Now I want to use that journey to inspire others to overcome their own Everest in life – because the biggest obstacle will always be ourselves.