Calshot Colleague Conquers Island Peak
On 30 August this year, while we were still enjoying some precious late-summer warmth, Calshot Climbing Wall Supervisor Joe Doherty was setting off for an altogether different climate. Jetting off out of Heathrow, it would be six weeks before he would step back onto British soil.
Part of a 14-strong group, he was heading for one of the world’s most inhospitable regions, the Himalayas. This would be the culmination of nearly 18 months’ preparation, a process which had included selection panels, training and fund-raising.
The project was managed by HSX*, an organisation which enables young scouts throughout Hampshire to participate in expeditions all over the world. At just 20 years of age Joe, accompanied by two other expedition leaders, took 11 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 years to Nepal, climaxing in an ascent of Island Peak, in the foothills of Everest, the world’s highest mountain.
Having flown into Lukla via Delhi and Kathmandu, the party travelled for three days to Khumjung, a small town in the Everest Valley. The next fortnight was spent renovating the Sir Edmund Hilary school, originally established by the legendary climber in 1963. The works included painting and roof repairs, as well as getting to know the locals.
Job done, the group then trekked for five days to Everest Base Camp. From there the journey continued to Island Peak Base Camp at an altitude of 5087 metres (16,690feet) above sea level, where they convened to make ready for their ascent.
The climb to Island Peak (aka Imje Tse) took another day. Setting off at 2am progress was slow, hampered by the thin air and vertiginous ridges which reduced the pace to a laboured crawl. But the group pushed determinedly upwards and at approximately 8.30am, six members summitted the 6189metres (20,305 feet) mountain, in the shadow of Mount Everest. The descent back to IPBC passed without incident, with the group arriving back at 12 noon.
With the mission completed, the scout party headed back to Kathmandu for some much-needed recovery and relaxation time. This included sight-seeing, white-water rafting and cultural tours where they learned more about the Nepalese culture.
42 days after setting out, the young group of scouts arrived back in the UK, having logged experiences that most of us can only dream about. Normal life was going to seem a little mundane in the coming weeks…
* Hampshire Scout Expeditions – an organisation which aims to develop young people and give them life skills through participation on international expeditions. Having completed an expedition the participants become members of HSX and can lead future expeditions.