A Kelsall teenager’s dream of becoming the youngest Briton to climb the world’s highest mountain is in tatters following the tragic death of 16 sherpa climbing guides during an avalanche.
On Thursday, The Chronicle reported that Alex Staniforth, 18, was stranded at base camp awaiting the outcome of talks between the Nepalese Government and sherpas, after many remaining guides demanded higher compensation and an agreement to revise insurance payments.
But Alex confirmed this morning, with ‘bitter disbelief and immense disappointment’, that the expedition has come to a premature end.
In a blog post published this morning - entitled ‘the cruel and bitter end to Everest 2014’ - the former Tarporley High School student said he was ‘utterly gutted’ that he and his teammates were on their way back to Kathmandu, ‘without even stepping foot on the beautiful mountain that we have gazed at for weeks’.
Alex said: “The seeming wastage of sacrifices, suffering and sheer dedication required - the countless hours of hard training, 15 months of persistence with fundraising, doubts and overcoming setbacks - make this extremely painful.”
Alex blamed the abandonment of the climb on ‘civil strife and politics - circumstances fully beyond our control’.
Alex, who wanted to raise about £30,000 for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent and the Red Endangered Animal Connection Trust, revealed he had doubts as to whether he could attempt an expedition like this again.
“I don’t know whether I could risk others’ money on something so fickle again, or whether I could create the same momentum, put the bad memories behind me to motivate and dedicate myself to another attempt. I’ve picked myself up and come back stronger many times before but this time will really challenge me.”
Alex also shared his disappointment at ‘letting down’ his sponsors and supporters.
He had received £10,000 sponsorship from Pulford mobile messaging company Textlocal, to cover costs such as food, shelter, travel, sherpa mountain guiding, oxygen and kit.
The failed expedition was the latest in a series of challenges he has set himself over the years.
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, and raised more than £5,000.
Alex concluded the blog post saying: “It’s truly been overwhelming, incredible at times, and so tragic it had to end like this but I guess trying is always better than dreaming.”