A teenager's dream of becoming the youngest Briton ever to climb Mount Everest is hanging in the balance following the ‘worst ever accident’ in the mountain’s history.
Alex Staniforth, of Kelsall has long made it his mission to scale the 29,035ft peak, and wanted to use his expedition to raise about £30,000 for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent and the Red Endangered Animal Connection Trust (REACT).
The 18-year-old set off on the mammoth expedition in Nepal on March 29, and was due to complete on June 2.
But last week, events on Everest came to a tragic standstill after an avalanche killed 16 sherpa climbing guides.
Since the incident on Friday, April 18, described as the worst in Everest’s history, former Tarporley High School student Alex and hundreds of other climbers have been forced to stay at base camp amid ‘chaotic scenes’.
It is unclear whether they will be able to continue their trek as many of the remaining guides have threatened to cancel all climbing and have issued an ultimatum to the Nepalese Government, demanding higher compensation, an agreement to revise insurance payments and a welfare fund.
At the time of The Chronicle going to press, the government was said to still be ‘discussing’ the demands.
Chris Spray, who is part of the support team monitoring all the teenager’s social media, told The Chronicle: “There are lots of conflicting stories in the media at the moment and things will become clearer in the next few days. At the moment, the key thing for Alex is the call of the sherpas.
“We don’t know what will happen right now, it’s just a case of waiting to see what is decided.
“He has already trekked more than 5,000m and has made lots of friends; the sherpas are looking after him.”
Mr Spray added: “Alex has already overcome many obstacles so hopefully this one will be no different.”
The role of sherpas are vital on climbing expeditions like this one. They carry out essential tasks on the mountain, such as carrying equipment, providing food, fixing ropes and repairing ladders.
More than 4,000 climbers have reached the summit of Everest since 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary and the sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first to achieve the feat.
Alex’s Everest expedition is the latest in a series of challenges he has set himself.
At 16 he became the youngest ever person to complete the gruelling National Three Peaks Challenge alone, raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process.
In 2012 the teenager climbed Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest peak, to raise more than £5,000.
He also won Chester Business Club’s Youth Ambassador Award for 2014.
This latest trek has received £10,000 sponsorship from Pulford mobile messaging company Textlocal, which is going towards covering costs such as food, shelter, travel, sherpa mountain guiding, oxygen and kit.
Alex’s mum Debbie Brooks said: “I receive a message from Alex every day and he is very saddened by the disaster that has happened. He has a lot of respect for the sherpa community and their beliefs and the hard work they do in helping all the climbers achieve their goal.”
She added: “This is a very sad and sensitive situation and all Alex can do is listen to the base camp leaders and respect their decisions.
“Alex is in good health and feeling strong at base camp waiting for the final decision whether to carry on with the Everest climb.