Pleased to announce Cammell-Laird and BiG Storage as the latest sponsors on my Everest journey alongside Ideal 365 Ltd who I announced recently. Really proud to have a formidable support team of sponsors around me.
Cammell-Laird is the largest and most successful ship repair and conversion specialist in the UK, based in Birkenhead, Liverpool, UK. They were one of my largest Everest 2014 expedition sponsors and so I’m extremely humbled they have pledged their support second year running so a huge thanks to Spencer and the team. You can find out more at www.clbh.co.uk
BiG Storage is also joining the team again! BiG Storage are the North West’s premier storage company and local self-storage experts for personal and business use, with sites in Chester, Warrington, Lancaster, Macclesfield, Morecambe, Cheadle & Wilmslow. Again, BiG Storage also contributed to my Everest 2014 expedition funds through the Active Cheshire Rising Stars scheme… and helped me get my gear to base camp intact! Find out more at www.bigstorage.info
So what else has been happening? Well, the feedback from the last blog has been exceptional and reassuring. Glad so many people are enjoying following the exploits and feeling as if they’re ‘on the bike and in the mountains’ with me.
Some interesting chats, network lunches/breakfasts, speaking enquiries and ideas have developed plus a few exciting bits of news to be announced since the 3 Peaks Cycle but whilst physically I was virtually unscathed after the cycle, the mental toll of these challenges is always far more debilitating and it drags on, leaving a frustratingly unproductive week.
But perhaps it’s Deja Vu. Why? Because one year to the date, things were quite different. I’d just returned from Nepal and my unsuccessful expedition to climb Baruntse, a 7129m peak in the Himalayas as part of my Everest training.
If facing failure in the eye and creating huge uncertainty for Everest wasn’t enough to dampen my spirits, I arrived home in the UK to learn my grandad, Derek, had suddenly passed away just one day earlier. He had been so excited to see me and my photos and that was cruelly taken away. He was a key figure and role model throughout my entire life who had always been there, so this was a huge shock that still hasn’t really sunk in. My past adversity has made me somewhat more resilient to deal with bereavement but it’s not been the same since. It’s just a shame he won’t be able to follow my progress to the top of the world but his spirit will be willing me on.
Getting home was the biggest rollercoaster of emotions. I remember playing music, the aptly named ‘Miracle’ by Foo Fighters, as we approached London Heathrow, my mind awash with ‘what do I do now?’ as the ambient lighting reinstilled a bit of hope. The sheer delight to see my mum and my dog, Harley, who even in his tender years came bounding down the length of the hallway and into my arms as I just slumped by the front door on my expedition kitbag and the tears streamed. He was so ill before I’d left that I feared he wouldn’t be there when I got back. The relief to be back safe and to comfort of proper food (having lost nearly half a stone) and a decent bed. In just a month the leaves had dropped and skies greyed, but walking Harley was strangely peaceful and atmospheric. But I couldn’t enjoy it, with the overwhelming shock that I’d discovered earlier that day whilst driving home from London Heathrow with my dad that I’d lost grandad. It was undoubtedly the weirdest and most emotional day of my life as I mulled around trying to work out what had just happened.
That next day and week or two was like an expedition itself, mixing the characteristic post-expedition blues and grief into an utterly miserable concoction. But I was somewhat relieved I was home so my family didn’t have any extra worry to contend with as we tried to come to terms with it. As always I try to distract with myself- and I had a lot to switch my mind to. The failure on Baruntse had knocked me. I had my hands on my head wondering whether to carry on with Everest, whether I was ready, believing my own self doubts and the ‘advice’ of other climbers I eventually called it off. But I knew I had more to give, we know our own capabilities best, and what I had to do to turn this around. After all, the biggest failure is not trying again. There was no way I was letting Grandad down, or the support I’d had so far. I’d gotten higher than the stronger and more experienced climbers on my team despite a gross lack of training due to a chronic injury. Surely there was a hidden fire in me somewhere? I’d learnt the hard way how tough these things are. Everest was 1700m higher than Baruntse. But I was prepared to make the changes happen to get myself into Everest shape and mindset. I had just four months. Never has a decision challenged me so much and damn did I make the right one.
So, before I reveal too much of my upcoming book, I just wanted to share this story. I’ve been reflecting on this journey as I remember my grandad one year on, how much has changed and how much I’ve learnt. This time last year things were in tatters, and now those torn threads have rebuilt stronger into an incredible project that couldn’t be going better with most of my sponsorship funds now secured, some powerful partnerships and opportunities building around it. This time I have no doubts that in four months, my chance to push myself to the top of Everest, will become a reality, And my physical and mental fitness is already vastly improved- incomparable to last November- all thanks to the EPIC7. That’s why I started it. There is no doubt I have a LOT of work still to do. But I know now, that never giving up, will always get you there.
Every day I hear people complaining about their scenarios… which is frustrating as I’ve learnt we can either change, get on with, or moan about a situation. Attitude is everything, regardless of anything else and when you strip down the excuses you open up huge new potential. This is why I think everyone should go on an expedition, even only once. You no longer think twice about walking home for 3 hours when you miss the train or walking in freezing rain wearing just a t-shirt, and you’ll never complain about food, the weather, lukewarm coffee, no showers or electricity again. Problems just become another adventure.