It’s been quite a while since I’ve added anything to this but thought I would round things up on the latest news before I start at Sandhurst in a month.
I decided in September last year, just after returning from my cycle with Jamie, that a marathon needed to be done in the following 6 months so went ahead and booked that. A friend foolishly then asked me about whether I had thought about doing an Ironman – I hadn’t really at that stage but the seed was planted and within a few weeks I had rashly signed up for the UK Ironman in Bolton in 11 months time. The main issues being I didn’t have a road bike, hadn’t ever run long distances at all and crucially could hardly swim. My family will testify to the latter, honestly, I would attempt a length of front crawl and hyperventilate at the end.
Anyway, training began modestly it must be said but ramped up in January with a road bike and a swimming technique that maintained respectability. Since then I have done a couple of local sprint triathlons finishing 51st then 7th suggesting an improvement in something – or indeed a weakened field. I did a couple of marathons in Barcelona & Edinburgh to understand what 26 miles was like – I hadn’t previously run more than 6 so they were fairly shocked – but finishing both these training runs in 3.30 was pleasing
On to August 4th 2013, Ironman UK in Bolton. For those that don’t know, an Ironman is a full length triathlon which comprises a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle & a 26.2 mile run. The pros will aim to do sub-9 hours, the cut off time is 17 hours, so there is a huge range and variety.
It is an odd event I must admit. For quite a few people I encountered there it was treated like life or death. For others, it was a good challenge or to prove something to themselves/others, raise money for charity etc…the main aim though was to finish because covering those sorts of distances in a day, whoever you are, is not an easy task.
Bright and early at 6am, ably supported by my unrivalled support team of Mum, sisters & girlfriend (a HUGE thank you has to go to them), the gun went off and the bizarre sight of 1800 swimmers splashing around began. The rest of the day was unpleasant much of the time, the swim however I thought was an enjoyable, if not slightly surreal, start to the day. 2.4 miles in 1hr 4 mins and onto Transition 1…
My amusement in T1 at the sight of people frantically stripping off the wetsuits and prepping for the bike was not matched but onto the bike it was and 112 miles of riding. That is the same distance pretty much as London – Birmingham, an unpleasantly long way, even more so as horrendously pricey bikes fly past with a rider hardly breaking sweat. 6 hrs 9 mins later I reached the destination, avg speed over 18 mph, top speed 44 mph.
Then onto the marathon…unsurprisingly the hardest part of the day. If I regret one thing from the day it was not taking onboard enough salt during the cycle because I got terrible stomach cramps for the first 10 miles of the run. I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish as I was doubled over time after time despite my legs actually feeling ok but that’s the nature of these one day endurance events – it probably cost me about 45 mins but such is life. Thankfully I managed to get through it and managed to finish the run in 4.41 which put my final time at 12.08.
I have to say that if I’d been offered that when I began triathlon and couldn’t swim properly less than a year ago, I would have snapped your hand off so I’m very happy overall. The nutrition/salt factor is something to bear in mind for next time and all goes into the “things learned” category. Overall I finished 17th in my category (age 18-24) and in the top 20% overall which is pleasing for my first one. Next thing…Sandhurst on September 8th. Thank you for all your support.
This was a totally unexpected and exciting turn of events that I thought you might be interested in.
Today marked the beginning of the Alfred Dunhill Spring/Summer 2013 Voice campaign and I was fortunate enough to be asked to be part of it alongside the innovative and superb musician / producer Brian Eno and the world renowned photographer Don McCullin.
The aim of the campaign is to showcase British males who have achieved in their given field. In the past there have been some amazing men involved in this campaign who I have looked up to, including one of my patrons, Sir Ranulph Fiennes (expedition leader), Sir Matthew Pinsent (olympic rower), Jamie Hewlett (artist) and John Hurt (actor). It is an amazing list of people of who have constantly set new boundaries in their field and it is a privilege to be involved with Alfred Dunhill on this project.
The photos taken by David Sims and the videos can be found on the Dunhill website (if you have 5 minutes free I highly recommend watching the full interviews of Brian Eno and Don McCullin – they have both seen and done some phenomenal things)
It’s been a long time since I have posted anything so wanted to keep those interested posted on developments.
A lot of people asked me after the completion of my 7 Summits attempt, “what next?”. Fair question, I would do exactly the same. There is something intriguing about the next chapter in one’s life after a particular dream is fulfilled.
I returned to St Andrews and enjoyed being a genuine student for a bit. Unsurprisingly, other thoughts and suggestions came my way but I wanted to do something that was a bit different for me. I haven’t climbed for a bit now, I still enjoy it very much but I also like to test myself in a different sphere, a different sport and one that requires a different mentality.
I obviously spent a fair amount of time working towards the Discovery Channel show and have done a few things with them since but my Summer was spent sitting on my arse really. With a great mate of mine, Jamie, I cycled from London to Split in Croatia which was just under 2500km. We went to 9 countries in 27 days and managed to haul ourselves up some of the hardest and steepest roads in Europe. A fantastic month overall.
The Blog we made is here: http://4feetofftheground.tumblr.com/
And here are a few pics from the ride:
Beyond the cycle, I have a few interesting things on the horizon next year, I think so anyway. Different challenges once again, some more physical than others but my limits will again be tested, I am confident of that.
I hoped you enjoyed the Ultimate Climb last night. It brought back a lot of enjoyable (& painful) memories.
If you did watch it then you might have seen an advert about becoming Discovery Channel’s 1st Chief Adventure Officer. It will give someone the chance of a lifetime to go on a trip or an expedition that they have always dreamed of.
If that sounds like something up your street then watch this Youtube video and take look at the page on the Discovery Channel website:
The Ultimate Climb is on Discovery Channel this Thursday (17th May) @ 21:00
It has been a busy few weeks this end with revision for exams in St Andrews and doing some final work for the programme but should be worth it I hope.
The programme is presented by 2x Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell and tracks my progress as I attempt to complete my dream of climbing the highest mountain on each of the 7 Continents. Filming for it was great fun but wow did they put me through my paces in order to find out my physical limitations – should be rather more relaxing watching the programme from the comfort of a sofa than it was at 8000m.
Take a look at this video to get an idea of what life in the “Death Zone” (above 8000m) is like and get a taster for the show on Thursday.
I just wanted to keep you informed on the developments of the Discovery Channel programme being aired. It is titled ‘The Ultimate Climb’ and is presented by 2 time Olympic gold medalist, James Cracknell.
It will be aired on May 17th and this is the programme overview on the Discovery Channel website:
Copyright Discovery Channel UK Ltd
It has been a while since I last wrote a post on here and I do apologise for that.
It has been a busy 7 months or so. I have given a number of presentations for various schools, charities and organisations which has been good fun, check out the page on my site if you’re interested - www.geordiestewart.com/speaking.
I am currently progressing with my army applications which is an exciting prospect and am also planning a cycling trip this Summer through Europe with a couple of mates. Nothing too challenging, it should be a few thousands miles heading east towards Greece. It is very much in the early stages of organisation but is currently satisfying the “what next?” question. This combined with meeting the Queen and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace, trying to re-engage with my studies at St Andrews, not to mention the constant struggle to lower my golf handicap, which is a thankless task I might add, have made life since returning from the summit of Everest both enjoyable and fulfilling.
However, my struggles on the Old Course though are of no interest to you. What might be is some TV work I have been doing for Discovery Channel. I was filming on Everest but I never quite imagined it would have come as far as it has so I am really excited.
The show is being presented by double Olympic champion James Cracknell. A seriously impressive guy and his website is worth a brief look at if you’re interested: www.jamescracknell.com. I was lucky to have a wonderful Director, Sophie Robinson, and cameraman, Luke Hallam. We had a lot of fun making the show, and from what I’ve seen they have done a great job.
It won’t be aired for a few months – I’ll keep you updated when I know more – but in the meantime, here is the trailer.
I thought I would write a final post on my 7 Summits venture now I’m back in the UK and have had a chance to reflect on the past as well as look ahead to the future.
4 years ago I was planning my year out before starting at St Andrews. I wanted to instruct skiing in Canada for a few months, travel in Central & South America etc etc. It would have been great fun, of that I have no doubt, but I was fortunate, and I use that word with complete conviction, that I was given a book that struck me. Maybe it was the way it was written, maybe it was Bear himself, but more likely it was the sense of adventure and challenge that drew itself to me – as well as forging my fascination with Everest.
I had never climbed at high altitude, I had never read a book on climbing and the extent of my mountain expertise was learnt skiing with my family. I write this though, having reached the highest point on each of the 7 continents. To be honest, I am amazed, delighted obviously, but amazed that it actually happened. I believed it could, it would not have been possible otherwise, but the chances of succeeding were pretty slim and I was reminded of that at every obstacle.
It was an ambitious dream, as most are, but the 7 Summits had something that grabbed me. It had everything: the sense of exploration; the cultural diversity; the physical climbing challenge; the people along the way and a seemingly unattainable cost associated with it. That final obstacle is one that provided a unique and totally different challenge in itself. I learned as much about business in this challenge as climbing. I was fortunate, last year I was sponsored by SW Mitchell Capital & Lifeboat Tea and this year by St Andrews University and Knight Frank – without all of which this would not have been possible – I am eternally grateful!!
Standing on the summit of Mt Everest, I found complete clarity and peace of mind with the decisions and sacrifices I have made, I can assure you there have been a fair few. Taking 2 years out of university being the obvious one but these expeditions put a lot of strain on people close to me. Their love and support has been invaluable and this would probably not have been possible without it.
I ended my final post in 2010 by saying that “in any walk of life, things do not go according to plan. It is however the way we react to these incidents that matters most.” I reacted to what happened last year by putting everything I had into completing my 7 Summits and completing it where it should end – on top of the world.
The obvious question now is, what’s next? I am returning to St Andrews in September, which will provide a very different challenge, but one I am looking forward to without question, it is a great university. After St Andrews, I intend to join the British Army, which is a different environment again, but one that I hope I will be able to thrive in. Between the two, there will certainly be some adventures but exactly what, I am not sure. The idea of getting a first ascent on an unclimbed peak is certainly something that appeals though. Right now though, I feel I warrant putting my feet up!!
Thank you everyone. If you wish to support a great cause, then please visit my Justgiving page. I was the first RNLI supporter to stand at the highest point on earth:
Everything is much more clarified and relaxing sitting here in Kathmandu enjoying a cappuccino compared to the anxiety and blur of our summit attempt. Thankfully it was a successful one and I can sit here in a state of contentment rather than regret.
I will obviously describe the events of summit day itself but the previous 72 hours played a massive role in shaping our bid. We made a decision at ABC to delay our attempt by a day – in hindsight a masterstroke – in order to maintain full fitness throughout the whole team. May 23rd therefore we moved to the North Col for the 3rd and final time. For me it was the 6th time and I was determined to make it the last. Another heavy pack made the going tough. Several weary teams were descending from their summit attempt a few days previous and their success, or lack thereof, was evident well before striking up conversation.
A freezed dried meal at the North Col, a nights rest and a few Snickers bars and I was ready for a big push to 7800m on the 24th. I reckoned it was going to be the 2nd hardest day behind summit day. I chose to not use Oxygen until 7500m on moral grounds more than anything else which almost proved to be a big mistake. Out of 15 people, only 4 went for the same approach as me, the others had O2 from 7000m. Last time to 7500m, it took me 6 hours. This time it took me more like 9 and I was exhausted, absolutely gone, having trudged up the monotonous snow slope of the North Ridge (see above). On went the supplementary O2 and we made good time for the final 300m – thankfully I made camp and was ready to fight another day but after almost 12 hours on the move, it was anything but ideal.
My diet that night contained of about 10 Pringles – all that I could stomach. With an expected 30,000 calories to be burned over the next 2 days, my brain knew I needed more but my body just couldn’t take it, ce la vie. 8am the next day and it was time to make a move to 8300m. I felt surprisingly strong and made my way encouragingly through the mixed terrain. Clambering over rocks and following a vague snow trail was a welcome change to the scenery we had become accustomed too and with extra O2, I was moving well. I arrived at 8300m – the highest camp in the world (see below) – at around 1:15 knowing that I had 7hrs 45mins before I left for the summit.
Hydration is key at this height so Ben and I were boiling water continuously. It was arduous, especially as one is tired and wants to sleep, but it is essential and we had a very effecient tent thankfully.
20:35. I open the tent zip and feel the gentle breeze in the nights sky. On goes the harness, crampons and three 3.5 kg O2 bottles strapped to my rucksack. 20:55, I am ready to go. Mentally I am in the right place. I feel prepared. I know where everything is: my spare mitts, hand warmers, spare headtorch, spare camera, emergency meds. Physically I feel strong. I am going to summit Mt Everest!
21:00. No Sherpa. I am ready to go but I have no support. Come 21:15, I get frustrated by the wait and set off in the dark, alone. I know that Dorjee – our head Sherpa and a friend – will catch me up so my worries are limited. In fact, I found that the first hour or so was exhilarating. There was fresh snow so I was breaking trail by myself on Mt Everest – it was almost a privilege. When Dorjee caught up, he just followed my footsteps knowing that we were making good time. It was tiring work and maybe I should have let Dorjee take the lead earlier than when I did. 2 steps up, kick, in theory, a good step but no, the loose snow gave way and the going was made twice as hard. At 4000m this would have been ok but at 8500m, well into an Everest summit day, i was getting more and more frustrated. After 5 hours of braking trail, Dorjee took the reigns and on we plodded.
Our weary bodies clambering over rock steps and through gullies, it was exciting leading the pack with no other headtorches to illuminate the route ahead. After the 1st step – a 30ft rock scramble – our progress was halted by two things. a) My fingers were getting cold. A change of gloves and some frantic rubbing just about did the trick for the timebeing and b) the body of someone who I knew from last year. Passing this garishly uncovered body, knowing what had happened to him really put my mind out of control. I felt physically ill but managed to re-focus my energy on the task ahead, namely the 2nd step. A massively exposed 100ft rock step with 2 aluminium ladders seperated by an unnerving slab traverse. Dorjee and I made our way to the top and onto the long traverse before the 3rd step – another challenging obstacle.
3 more unprotected bodies lay await and again make one’s stomach unsettled and raise the obvious questions of, why are we doing this? and at what cost does this summit mean to us? Onto the summit pyramid, beyond where I turned around last year, and the sun arose to a most spectacular view. The route then traversed to the right which is where I took the picture above and we edged our precarious way across the North Face of Mt Everest. If what was below was exhilerating, this really got me excited. What a moment, what a view.
I knew that we were getting close and soon we were above the rocky traverse and there was a gentle snow slope in front of me. “10-15 minutes until summit” says Dorjee. My heart rate rose but it was about to get even quicker as the view in the pic above came about. Prayer flags draped down the side of an overhang and no apparent ground above it represented the summit of Mt Everest. I now not only believed I would make it, I knew I would. I knew that I was about to reach the highest point on earth.
Each step we took and that bit more detail became evident. I dragged my body over the tiny lip before the summit and a big hug from Dorjee awaited me. I stood at 8848m with the whole world beneath me.
If there is a better view or a better feeling in the world then I am yet to experience it. I perched myself onto the pinnacle of Mt Everest and didn’t move for over an hour. Unbelievable.
Jaysen, Ang and Chris joined me very shortly and we had the summit to ourselves. The emotions I was feeling: awe, exhaustion, happiness. I phoned my parents from the top and emotion got the better of me. 4 years of obsession had boiled down to this moment. I had envisaged this moment every day over that period but nothing compared with the reality. It was the greatest moment of my life.
After an hour of not really moving I thought I should take some photos, leave a momento or two, and make the long descent to the safety of lower altitude. Making my way down to 8300m and then to 7800m was very tough. All the adrenaline that had got me to the top had been sapped. My throat, similar to in 2010, had closed to breathing was hard and I was coughing up blood into my oxygen mask. My back was excruciating but with extra motivation from Dorjee, I just about stumbled into camp. A few hours of resting and hydrating there and it was down to camp at 7800m making a round trip of 22 hours. The following day we descended to ABC then to BC after that. A few beers, some very weary and skinny bodies later and we knew we were safe. We had successfully just climbed Mt Everest.
I am extremely fortunate to have been given this opportunity. At 6:30 on May 26th 2011, I became the youngest Brit to have stood at the highest point on each of the 7 continents and that is something I am hugely grateful for. My sponsors for this expedition, Knight Frank & St Andrews have been exceptional and I couldn’t have done it without them, thank you. Everyone back at home who has helped me complete this project. Even when it seemed way out of reach, when payment deadlines were due and when most people thought it wasn’t possible, you all believed in this and I will never be able to thank you enough!!
I will leave you with the Thomas Edison quote that I said in the first blog of this expedition:
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
— Geordie wrote this on Friday —
I will write a proper report with photos when I get back to Kathmandu and have had time to process my thoughts but as a brief update now…
What an unbelievable week. Leaving Base Camp knowing what date we intend to summit is one thing but leaving 8300m – the highest camp on earth – is a truly surreal and exhilarating feeling. I set off alone, in the dark, which only added to those emotions.
Summit day itself was filled with high emotion and exhaustion. It was the hardest, most mentally and physically tiring day of my entire life but also the one I think I will remember the most.
I was fortunate enough to be the first one to summit in our team at 06:35 on May 26th 2011. I perched myself, exhausted, on the top of Mt Everest for over an hour with a view that will be hard to ever re-create.
I finally reached 7800m after 22 hours of constant work. Exhausted would be the most appropriate word – the contentment I feel here at ABC was only achievable after a gruelling descent. For 4 years I have prayed for this exact moment and to say it is surreal that it has come true would be a massive understatement.
Thankfully all of our team is safe and well.