It is June 2019 and I have just paid my deposit to return to Aconcagua in January 2020 for another attempt at reaching the summit.
In January 2018 I embarked on a 3 week expedition to ascend Aconcagua.
Part of the Andes mountain range in South America it is the highest mountain outside of the Himalaya. At 6962m in height the Altitude is one of the most challenging factors. It is also known for its high winds and freezing temperatures.
The expedition provided me with a steep learning curve. I had never been to high altitude before. The experience I had on Aconcagua showed me that I had been under prepared. It was meant to be the trip of a lifetime. Instead it turned out to be a fight for survival.
The entire trip was the single most challenging experience I have ever faced.
Seven months of preparation and training now lie ahead of me to attempt to reach the summit and succeed in achieving my dream...
This time around I am heading out with the world’s best Mountain Guide Team – Elite Himalayan Adventures headed by lead guide and multiple world record holder – Nims Dai and his incredible team..
In 2018 I had no idea how difficult it would be dealing with the altitude and a low level of altitude sickness plagued myself and the team from the moment we arrived at Base Camp.
Headaches were the first signs followed by nausea. My appetite was ravaged which left me having to force feed myself with no appetite in order to fuel the massive energy expenditure. During the expedition we were buffeted by high winds, storms, high sun and snow and temperatures plummeted as the days passed by.
When not taking a rest day to acclimatize we would head up the mountain in stages with everything we needed to sustain ourselves for the days higher up the mountain. I remember the journey up to each progressively higher camp, feeling like I was redlining it, such was the difficulty of the physical challenge which demanded a huge strength of Mind-set to keep going.
When summit day eventually arrived I had had no sleep, and I was feeling exhausted and fearful.
To summarise it was brutal.
Two of the team turned around due to exhaustion and being unable to feel their feet...Frostbite being a real concern
My tent mate and I carried on ascending at a painfully slow pace for 10 hours.
The summit was 150 vertical metres away...
I was 30m higher up the mountain than my team mate when an inner voice urged me to turn around, insisting silently that if I got to the top, I would likely not make it down again...
As it turned out, I was showing early signs of cerebral oedema...
Turning around was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make, but I knew as my legs were buckling and my body was encountering a strange vibrational tingling that I was done...
The next 5 hours I experienced the most fearful I have ever felt.
I was struggling to control my legs, my vision was in slow motion and every part of my being wanted to lie down in the snow and sleep forever.
But deep within me there was a part of me that wanted to live.
I had too much living to do and I played this over and over in my head.
I have never had to dig so deep into my own inner strength before.
I eventually made it back down to base camp due to the incredible help of my team mate and a guide who helped me down from High Camp 3 to base camp.
I had lost 7kg in body weight in 12 days and was utterly spent on every level.
It took me a year to recover fully from that experience.... I had pain in my body and I felt cold to my core for several months afterwards.
A Mountain is the Mountain. It cannot be rushed and neither could my recovery.
Since that time I have had the calling deep in my body and soul to go back and try again.
To learn from previous experience and to witness my own personal growth.
My dream is to one day ascend one of the world’s highest mountains, one of the fourteen 8000m peaks in the Himalayas. By doing so I hope to inspire others to chase their dreams and to overcome adversity by harnessing the inner strength that we can all access within ourselves.
Aconcagua provides a significant stepping stone towards that goal and being able to learn from Nims and the Team will be a perfect start to springboard the dream.
I work with people as a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Mentor. I work with a hugely varied clientele in terms of goals, aspirations and circumstances.
But with the common factor of chasing their dreams...
I help people to experience less pain and weakness in their bodies, to overcome dysfunction and to grow towards capabilities and goals way beyond their previous contemplation.
At the root of my work is the understanding that Strength Begins Within.
As our internal workings become stronger, as we move past limiting patterns and behaviours our mind-set can change. When the mind-set changes within, we experience a stronger, more powerful external life. One with less limitation and greater sense of personal enjoyment, reward, success and fulfilment.
The trip stipulates a need for certain equipment including full summit suit, 8000m high altitude boots, harnesses and various other pieces of kit that I didn’t have last time.
The equipment combined with the guide company fee, mountain pass license and flights costs £8500.
I am reaching out to those who are interested in being part of my journey by asking for donations and financial support of which any would be gratefully received.
If you would like to make a donation you can do so through my Go Fund Me page. Any donations are hugely appreciated and by way of exchange I offer the following benefits (below) for playing a role in the success of this endeavour.
I am also seeking sponsorship packages which in return for financial support we can negotiate a sponsorship deal including brand representation, brand ambassador and presentation following my return in 2020 describing my experience and to offer insight and inspiration to those who attend.
I have a tier system for donations made through my Go Fund Me page:-
£1200 – Weekend Mountain Trip in North Wales including 1 night Wild Camp (individual tent, sleeping bag, food, drink) provided. An awesome opportunity to spend a weekend with Matt, Mountain Leader who will take you on a professionally guided hike through Snowdonia with mountain ascent to be determined based on fitness level and experience. The perfect opportunity to escape the rat race, reset, unplug and reboot in amazing surroundings. You will need own clothing, boots, waterproof, hats, gloves etc. Stove and cooking will be done by Matt. If travelling from Eastbourne travel with Matt or meet in North Wales.
£1000 - 60 minute presentation of my experience in 2020 as an inspirational/motivational talk within the UK.
£750 - 45 minute presentation of my experience in 2020 as an inspirational/motivational talk within East Sussex and London.
£400 – 4 x 1-2-1 personal training sessions in London.