Virtual Everest Conquered for Comic Relief

On Friday 18 September David Hayes, the President of Harrogate Brigantes Rotary Club, stood on the summit of Everest (virtually). It was the culmination of the Club’s virtual expedition to the highest mountain in the world to raise money for its Covid Relief Fund. The objective was to raise some £5000 for the Fund by this initiative and to date, with more gifts still coming in, the total stands at just over £3,500.

The virtual expedition with 20 members accompanied by guides and porters left Lukla on 28 August and trekked to Everest Base Camp. From there an assault party of six again accompanied by guides climbed the mountain to Camp 3 from where four set out for the summit. Accompanying David to the top were the expedition’s Communications Officer Luke N. Brightside and two guides, including Head Porter Sherpa Dowting. It has been the daily reports from Brightside and Dowting that have kept proud but anxious families and supporters here in Yorkshire up to date with the progress of the four-week-long virtual trek and climb. These reports have been posted on the Club’s website, and Facebook and Twitter pages and all have been linked to the Just Giving website to encourage donations from the public.    

Reporting from the summit David Hayes paid tribute to the unsung heroes who had got him to the top of the world. “I am only standing here” he said “because of the enormous efforts of club members over the last few weeks. Daily they have walked, climbed, cycled and rowed to build up the real distance and height that were needed to get me here. They’re all in their 70s but they’ve put their bodies through a gruelling regime to get us to our goal.” Among the trekkers was Graham Chilvers, the organiser of the whole initiative. He met his daily quota of distance and height by walking his dog, Jet, up and down the steps around Knaresborough Castle. Jet refused our request for a comment but looked pleased to be now curled up at home.

To put their President on the top of Everest Club members have actually covered 3,900 miles (which is further than walking, were it possible, from York to New York!) and climbed 106,000 feet (that’s 24 times the height of Ben Nevis). Using a formula devised in advance to translate Yorkshire effort into Himalayan achievement, this equates to 1525 expedition miles trekked and 1,056,000 feet climbed against a requirement of 1500 miles and 1,000,000 feet. That target requirement was set way above the actual numbers required to climb Everest to take account of the enormously more difficult conditions, steeper gradients and increasingly significant lack of oxygen at altitude that a real expedition would encounter.  

The appeal continues for another few weeks, though the daily blogs will cease this weekend.  The money raised will then be split. Some will go to bolster Brigantes’ Covid Relief Fund so that it is better able to respond to the needs of what look likely to be some difficult months ahead. The rest will be split between two local charities doing important work to help those badly affected by the Covid pandemic: the mental health charity Wellspring, and Carers’ Resource which provides support for carers of all ages. Carers and those with mental health issues have been particularly badly hit by the consequences of the Covid pandemic and Brigantes is determined to give them as much support as possible.

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