6 years to the day
Six years ago today, at 0730 on 24th May 2007 I stood on the summit of Mount Everest together with Anna Shekhdar, Rob Casserley and our Sherpas Lhakpa Thundu and Namgel. It is a moment that I will never forget and which has touched my life on a daily basis ever since. From a young age I had dreamt of representing my country at something, but I never imagined that I would become the first Welsh woman to climb Mount Everest. Tonight, Anna and I will once again raise a glass to our achievements and to everyone who climbed with us. It’s fair to say that climbing to the roof of the world changes your life. It changes your perception of what is possible and what is important. Mountains are magical places and getting outdoors is one of the most important parts of my life; to climb, ski, run, cycle, paddle or walk are all essential ingredients.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay. The wealth of material and number of celebratory events surrounding the anniversary is quite overwhelming. I am still in awe of what they and other climbers achieved 60 years ago. Having been there it is difficult to imagine how they survived without the modern clothing, equipment and technology we have today.
Released last week is a new song called Everest by Public Service Broadcasting as part of their new album Inform-Educate-Entertain. I have fallen in love with it. The spectacular old footage shown on the You Tube video is incredible. The music and images bought tears to my eyes and an overwhelming sense of pride.
If you want to be part of the celebrations you could attend “Crowning Achievement, Lasting Legacy” at the Royal Geographical Society on Wednesday 29 May. There are still tickets available for the afternoon and children are particularly welcome.
Also on this day the International Olympic Committee will reveal its final shortlist of sports for the 2020 Olympic Games. Earlier this year sport climbing was formally recognised by the IOC and I have every hope that it will make the shortlist ahead of a final decision in Buenos Airies in September 2013. You can find out how you can support the bid by visiting the BMC website.
Teachers, if you are looking for resources about Everest for Key Stage 1 & 2 take a look at a new list of materials available from the Royal Geographical Society.
Spectacular photography of the 1953 expedition has also been released in a new book released this week, Everest published by Ammonite Press is priced at £40. Take a sneak preview.
Everest has had its fair share of media coverage already during this season. I was shocked to hear of what was described as a ‘high altitude altercation’ between mountaineers and Sherpas earlier this month. My experience of the Sherpa population who support expeditions on Everest is of very mild mannered, kind and considerate people. The reports appeared to be completely out of character with my own experiences.
And in terms of summits, this season has seen even more records from around the globe. From yesterday’s ascent by an 80 year old Japanese climber, and first ascents for woman from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Next year, local guy and friend, Jeff Smith (Cardiff) will attempt to reach the summit. Jeff’s training is in full swing and I wish him every success in his bid to reach the top. You can read a Q&A I did for Jeff at www.everestatfifty.com.
For a list of British ascents see www.everest1953.co.uk.
Not sure what to do this weekend? Go climb a mountain!
Photograph: Copyright Rob Casserley