“Should I be doing this at my age? Debatable, but it is for a wonderful cause.”
Rohan Milton Keynes assistant Don James is firmly back on UK soil after his 16-day intrepid expedition to the Everest base camp, successfully raising the profile of charity, Puzzle Centre – a charity based in Middle Clayton that helps young people with autism. Don personally raised a phenomenal £5,250, and the Rotary Club of Winslow’s combined effort totalled £37,500.
On 2 April 2019, the 12th annual #worldautismawarenessday2019, Don set off on his journey to Kathmandu, then flew to the infamous and perilously situated mountain airstrip of Lukla at 2800 metres on the cliff face.
On day 3, his trek to the Everest region began – this is described as ‘Grade 5 Challenging’, with a maximum altitude of 18,192ft and rocky steep climbs.
Averaging 6-mile daily walks and staying at teahouses en route, Don and his group of Rotarians camped for two nights in temperatures of -10 degrees, with climbers preparing for their summit attempts at the foot of the magnificent Khumbu Ice Fall. The group also climbed Kala Pattar for superb close up views of the highest mountains in the world.
Speaking before his departure Don said: “I am going to trek to the most iconic base camp of all, at the foot of the greatest mountain in the world. This is one of the world's classic treks of 84 miles to the base camp and back.”
On his return, 4 June, Don gave a talk to the local Rotarians in Winslow where the cheque to Puzzle Centre was officially presented.
“Well that's it – job done! Back home now. What an amazing experience, but please do not ask me to do this or similar again! Thanks so much for all your kind words of support - you have no idea what an inspiration this was to me. Everyone in our group came back with a souvenir, regrettably I came back with a badly infected finger so spent some time in Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s plastics unit having it incised and drained! We all suffered from the effects of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), you just can't legislate for it and I lost my appetite completely. As a result, I'm now 10lbs lighter.” – Don.