Gruelling trek to roof of the world

Two charities will share over £6000 thanks to the efforts of North-east firefighters who have returned from their trek to Mount Everest base camp.

Monday, 16th December 2013, 7:00 am
the group as they reached their destination at Mount Everest base camp (Back row left to right: Stewart Murdoch (23), Mark Greig (46); Front Row left to right: Greig Taylor (31), Craig Chalmers (25)

Four firefighters from stations in Stonehaven and Banchory have been raising money through charity car washes, race nights and aunctions to raise funds for the Firefighters Charity and also one set up in memory of a local fireman, Davy Crabb, who lost his battle with cancer four years ago.

Their efforts culminated in a trip at the beginning of November to Mount Everest, which firefighter and team member, Stewart Murdoch, described as “mentally and physically one of the toughest things any of us have ever done.”

Now fully recovered, and back at work at his own landscaping company, retained firefighter Stewart, from Banchory, spoke about the difficulties they faced with altitude sickness and described how they could only ascend 300m a day owing to the health risks.

The group, which also included Craig Chalmers from Banchory and Mark Greig and Gregg Taylor, both from Stonehaven Fire Station, left Aberdeen on November 8 and travelled to London before catching a flight to Mumbai. They then flew to Kathmandu and from there onto Lukla or Hillary-Tenzing Airport, described as one of the most dangerous in the world.

Stewart said: “This was definitely one of the hardest things we have ever done, both mentally and physically.

“However, despite the headaches and the sickness, we never once thought we would not manage to do it. We worked well as a team and really got on well.

“Our guides were excellent and we even had a game of football with them when we got back down to Lukla. I would describe it as the most scenic game of football we’ve ever played or are ever likely to play. We won the first game but lost the second as we were so tired.

“The flight into Hillary-Tenzing airport is famous for being one of the world’s most dangerous and it was an experience we won’t forget. However, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been as the weather was quite kind to us.”

He added: “The temperature was in the 20s during the day but at night it would drop to the same figure but with a minus in front of it! It was absolutely freezing at night and owing to the fact we were above the treelines we had to use yak dung on the fire, which produced a smell we won’t forget in a hurry.”

Stewart described the scenery as breathtaking and revealed they witnessed one or two avalanches on the way up to base camp.

He said: “We trekked about 70km to reach the base camp at Everest and we did suffer very dull headaches above 4000m.

‘‘ The trek took us 17 days owingto the 300m per day rule because of the risk of altitude sickness, but the way back was much quicker as we were going down and took just three days, covering 15km a day.”

Stewart said he was glad he and the team had decided to make the trip and he will never forget the experience. He also gave thanks to all those who supported them.

He added: “The group who made it possible, Venture Force, were excellent as was their representative, Chris Jopling, who came with us.

“We would also like to thank the public for their tremendous support of our fundraising activities, our colleagues at the station and beyond and Aberdeen FC for donating a number of signed strips for us to auction.

“We are delighted to have been able to raise over £,000 for two worthy causes.”