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Postman returns from Everest trek

Chris Kerrigan
Chris Kerrigan went on an Everest Expedition Trek

Last updated: 23 December 2004 1415 GMT
lineChris Kerrigan normally gets up very early to deliver mail in the Cotswolds. But that was all replaced by howling winds and freezing temperatures...
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The back room of Winchcombe Post Office - at Christmas time it's certainly a busy place to be. With this in mind, you'd think that when Postman Chris Kerrigan got some time off he'd want to sit back and relax. But no...

The intrepid postie has just returned from a trip climbing Mount Everest. Chris talks about his adventure:

Chris Kerrigan
Chris tests out his gear

"Really great and very tough. Awesome in every respect. Wonderful people. Beautiful country. It was very, very tough going. You had to hang in there, hour after hour. There's no such thing as a leisurely coffee break or a nice lunch break, or have a little siesta in the afternoon - they were very full days."

Climbing Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world, is quite a challenge. Was there any point when Chris thought that it was too much, that he couldn't do it? He says:

"I can honestly say there wasn't. It was a long haul and you knew you had perhaps two or three more hours to go to the end of the day but never once did I think of jacking it in. Mainly because many people in Winchcombe have backed me. Besides which I had nowhere else to go, I had to go onto the next camp site."

So what was a day on Mount Everest actually like? Chris explains:

"We got up about 6am, just before daybreak. Daybreak would come about 6.15 but you wouldn't see the sun for a little while after that. We'd be given a very good breakfast by the team of sherpas and kitchen people.

We'd leaving camp at about 8 o'clock in the morning. We would plod on until about one o'clock lunch. It was a good lunch but I made the mistake of having too much one or two days and I didn't really want to get going again.

Then you set off again soon after lunch until five o'clock in the evening, and sometimes even into darkness as well. There you found your tent, or it found you, and then you could look forward to an evening meal in a lodge. They all had a nice stove in there and it was a bit hard to leave there, go outside and return to your tent when temperatures were anything between -10 and -20. It was great fun because we were all in the same boat."

What about the other people? Did you all get on well? Chris says:

"Yes. There was a lot of gelling amongst the 42 strong group [of] men and women. Inhibitions to one side, we were all the great unwashed for about a fortnight. I started changing my socks every day but that fell by the wayside. You just pulled your boots off at night and crawled into your sleeping bag when it was time to get to sleep."

Looking back on the adventure, what was the real highlight for Chris? He reveals:

"One in particular was to meet a man who summited Everest fourteen times. He was so humble. He should have been wearing a crown in my book. Rubbing shoulders with the mountain guides, the sherpas and the kitchen boys - that was all a highlight as well as seeing Everest itself."

And tell us about the honorary title you received during the trek? Chris laughs as he remembers:

Chris Bonnington

"They very kindly made me a honorary sherpa and crowned me with scarves and all sorts of things. They've achieved a lot in life - far more than I have - and to be presented with clothing from Tibet from one of them who was associated with Chris Bonnington (right) on one occasion, to be rubbing shoulders and talking everyday to them was really great."

Why did they do that for you? Chris shrugs as he says:

"I really don't know why I was chosen. I suppose we just got on very well!"

Chris also revealed that he intends to stay in e-mail contact with the friends he's made in the region. It's strange to imagine that it's possible to keep in touch using computers in such a remote region. Chris explains:

"They have homes in and around Kathmandu, and in the mountain. They have little businesses, guesthouses and lodgings, and there they have all the equipment. It surprised me to find that, as it surprised me on occasions that you'd suddenly come across a lodge that had a satellite telephone. It was great fun on occasions to telephone the [Winchcombe] Post Office and say hello!"

And, after an incredible experience like trekking in the shadow of Everest, what's it been like since Chris returned to Winchcombe? He explains:

"People have been great, asking how I got on. But, sadly, it's like any good experience that's suddenly gone - here I am, halfway through a [normal] week and I can't believe what I was doing the other week. I've got the picture memories anyway."

Listen to the interview with Chris Kerrigan

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Raising money for good causes

The Everest Expedition Trek was organised to raise more than £150,000 for Scope - a charity which helps those who suffer from cerebral palsy, their families and carers.

Chris aimed to raise around £3,500 towards that total and it's looking good. Although he has yet to total up all his sponsorship money, the support he's received has been tremendous. He says:

"People have been incredibly generous in their support of me but what has really stuck me is the number of people who I don't even know who have responded to the appeal. I'm very, very grateful to them."

Future plans

With Everest under his belt, does Chris have plans for any more epic treks around far flung places in the world? He says:

"We must look at another plan sometime next year. Not sure where yet, but somewhere interesting!"

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