Les Shires set out to prove age is no barrier to achieving anything and the 67-year-old certainly proved that, as he trekked to just four miles from Everest base camp.
‘We were slightly disappointed to have to turn back four miles from base camp,’ said Les.
‘The weather turned against us, the experts at Lobuche said don’t do it, also Tony Parr (his friend and travelling companion) became rather ill, not through altitude sickness, which we at first thought, but through drinking something he should not have done. He could not keep any food down.’
In addition, he said his porter Santa ‘was not dressed for snow’.
From the outset, Les realised this was going to be a challenging experience.
While waiting for his flight at Kathmandu, he learned the flight before his had crashed, killing all on 19 board. He said: ‘It was the first flight of the day, they believe it was hit by a vulture.
‘If we had been the first flight of the day, I probably would not be talking to you now.
‘Life is quite cheap out there. I thought the chances of there being two plane crashes on the same day are remote, it made me feel quite safe.’
He coped with his vertigo by making sure he was on the landward side if they came across any other traffic on narrow mountain passes.
‘If you came across yaks or a train of yaks, you make sure they are on the outside.
‘When going over suspension bridges. I made sure I was looking ahead ... They are quite substantial bridges, one looked like it was not well concreted in on one side, I thought: “Sod it”.
‘I believe somewhere up there, there is a date on it of when I die and I can not do anything about it.
‘If that is when I’m trekking in Nepal, so be it.’
Lodges – which cost 100 rupees (about 80p) a night – were of varying standard, some quite good others ‘atrocious’.
The people were friendly, he said. He got to know Santa very well and gave him his (smelly) boots, which will make Santa’s job carrying loads of around 60kg, with the strap over his forehead, a little easier.
The highlight for the Ballasalla resident was ‘seeing Everest for the first time,’ he said. ‘Just going higher and higher. I realised from a personal point of view, no matter what age you are, provided you are fit enough, nothing will stop you. I got to 5,000m.’ Has he inspired other retired men to go trekking, such as those involved in Men in Sheds, Port Erin’s community project, of which Les is coordinator and for which his trek rose £1,800 in sponsorship money?
‘Absolutely not,’ he said. ‘Whether it made them appreciate if you are fit enough, there is no need to limit yourself to Saga holidays.
‘I do not think any men in sheds wanted to do Everest, maybe it made them realise age is only a number’
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