Sir Chris Bonington wears his original Everest outfit as he climbs his stairs

Sir Chris Bonington wears his original Everest outfit as he climbs his stairs

Some of Britain’s most illustrious mountaineers are seeking volunteers for a new Everest challenge.

Sir Chris Bonington and Doug Scott are among climbers urging the public to make the ascent – without leaving their home.

The charity event is described by Community Action Nepal as one of its biggest social media campaigns in recent years and aims to raise cash for projects in the remote Himalayan regions.

A spokesperson for the organisation, which was founded by climber Doug Scott, said: “To coincide with the 45th anniversary of the historic summit of Everest by the first British team in 1975, and the first ever ascent of the notoriously difficult south-west face, CAN are asking the public to collectively climb the equivalent height of 8,848m – on their own staircases.”

Scott was the first Briton from the team to stand on the summit on 24 September 1975, along with team-mate Dougal Haston. The expedition was led by Sir Chris Bonington, who is now the patron of the charity. Paul ‘Tut’ Braithwaite, a fellow team member who played a key role in tackling one of the seemingly impossible sections of the Everest climb, the Rock Band, has been a trustee of the charity for many years.

Together, they are launching the Everest Challenge 2020 in aid of Community Action Nepal, and will be reuniting all of the surviving members of the original climb to celebrate their achievements by undertaking this challenge whilst raising essential funds for this worthy cause.

CAN said they will also be bringing together the greatest mountaineers across all generations by inviting the newest and brightest ‘rock’ stars from around the world to take part.

Organisers said anyone wanting to take the Everest Challenge should:

  • Climb their staircase twenty times
  • Take a photo of themselves at the ’summit’ of the 20th climb
  • Upload it to social media or email it directly to CAN
  • Make a donation via the CAN’s official JustGiving fundraising page
  • Invite at least five friends to take part.

The charity said there will be special prizes for the most imaginative climbs, including best outfit, funniest photo and most family members climbing together. It will be adding up how many stairs have been climbed and calculating how far up the mountain participants have collectively climbed. As certain milestones are reached, the charity will be releasing specially recorded interviews with some of the original team members, telling the incredible stories from that part of the mountain.

Prizes will be on offer for the best records of ascents

Prizes will be on offer for the best records of ascents

Behind the fun campaign is a serious objective: to raise money for the most vulnerable people of Nepal – the villagers of the high Himalaya. Community Action Nepal said it has been supporting remote mountain communities for more than 25 years and has helped them through decades of hardship. “Whether it’s civil unrest during the Maoist insurgency or the 2015 earthquake in Gorkha that displaced over three million people, CAN has always been there delivering healthcare, education, porter welfare and improving people’s livelihoods and nutrition,” the spokesperson said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is different. This emergency has affected the entire planet. It has the capacity to cause problems for mountain people that may extend years into the future. Aside from the immediate risks to health, the pandemic will affect their food supply chain, their economy and their overall health and wellbeing for the foreseeable future.

“CAN is already working tirelessly to address many of these issues, by supplying [personal protective equipment] to frontline nurses and staff to help respond to the outbreak; providing a range of seeds and agricultural inputs to improve crop diversity and nutrition, and to reduce dependency on food imports. The funds from this CAN campaign will go directly to supporting the relief efforts where they are needed most.”

Doug Scott said: “Community Action Nepal owes so much to climbing Everest by the south-west face back in 1975. It all started there.

“It gave me a high enough profile that I could earn a living with time to spare to help those who had helped me climb their mountains. To be able to celebrate our achievements and raise money for CAN is a great honour and I thank everyone for getting involved, especially during these incredibly testing times.”

Tut Braithwaite camps at the foot of his garden ascent

Tut Braithwaite camps at the foot of his garden ascent

The impact of the coronavirus has caused further complications for CAN in the UK too. The lockdown enforcement and social-distancing measures have meant that almost all of the traditional fundraising events, such as Doug Scott’s lecture tours and photo auctions, have had to be postponed or cancelled.

The spokesperson said: “This has meant that Community Nepal has had to completely rethink the way it will raise funds to support projects in Nepal in North Gorkha and the Solu Khumbu. The Everest Challenge 2020 is a perfect way for supporters to get involved without having to leave their homes, and for them to join the prestigious 1975 climbing team on another ‘ascent’ of the world’s highest mountain.”

Sir Chris Bonington said: “I’m incredibly excited to be celebrating the 45th anniversary of our groundbreaking achievement on Everest back in 1975.

“It was truly a team effort, in much the same way that Community Action Nepal are now inviting us all to come together to help improve the lives of the mountain people of Nepal.

“During this global pandemic, they really need our support more than ever. I’m delighted to be able to join our supporters in ‘climbing’ Everest again for such a worthwhile cause.”

Organisers of the event said it is open to anyone, even if they have never set foot on a mountain before.

Paul ‘Tut’ Braithwaite, who was part of the 1975 team, added: “Along with many other parts of the world, the Nepali people now face the challenge of living with a global pandemic: Covid-19.

“CAN is still raising funds to pay for medical and food supplies for the vulnerable people in the high and remote regions. Your support is needed now more than ever.”

Details of how to take part are on the Community Action Nepal site. Would-be Everest 2020 climbers can also email organisers for details.

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