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29 Jan 2019
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HOYER Driver climbs Mera Peak

HOYER are pleased to share the adventures of Ben Penny, Driver Technician at in the South East near Thurrock. Ben loves walking and climbing and to put his hobby to the test he signed up to climb Mera & Island Peak in the Himalayas at the end of October 2018. A great challenge and achieving a dream.

Ben wanted to accomplish more than this and chose to raise money for a colleague’s grandchild (Kennedy) who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1. Kennedy is supported by the children’s charity Whizz-Kids. They are a children’s charity that support disabled children by providing vital equipment to enhance their lives and enable them to reach their full potential. Kennedy lost her twin brother to the same disease at five months old.

Mera Peak is 6,476m and is the highest trekking peak in Nepal.  At this altitude the oxygen content of air is less than half of what it is at sea level - for this reason it is not recommend you take on Mera as your first high-altitude trek.

As the journey would take approximately four weeks Ben had some tough training to undertake.

So Ben’s journey started, he arrived in Kathmandu on the 28th October and set off on a white knuckle ride through the low clouds and mountains on a small propeller plane to the starting point of Lukla.

At Lukla, altitude 2,895m temperature 25o, the small group headed out into the hills, the scenery breath taking. Most of the first week was climbing up and down hills and mountains reaching heights of 4,115m. The weather was warm and the people very friendly and welcoming, with an advisory to be aware of meat as it’s hung in a shed for some weeks and was not exactly tempting.

On the approach to base camp, at 5,029m breathing is a lot harder, sometimes Ben found that he had to stop to really catch his breath, on the way up on the other side of the valley Ben witnessed a couple of avalanches, which are mainly caused as the sun warms up the ice fields. This was the next progression on the trip, where they had to gear up to climb the glaciers, crampons on, ice axes at hand, moving around the avoiding crevasse’s. It was unbelievably warm.

The route to Mera high camp, 5,638m, is really hard work, you become very breathless and very dehydrated due to water icing up all the time, Ben expressed, ”you can’t even explain how fantastic the views are“.

Arriving at high camp at 1430hrs, the plan is to stay there and acclimatise for 36 hours, but due to bad weather and high winds closing in, the group had to climb the next morning. So, at 0200hrs the next morning they geared up and set off, Ben got to 6,248m, but due to altitude sickness and dehydration he had to retire back to high camp, exhausted, “I’ve spent 14 years in the Army and have never been, or felt so tired in my life”

On route back to Lukla the group were able to go off to climb Island Peaks but there had been two deaths a few days before; a girl fell to her death and another died of high altitude - Pulmonary Edema.

It is as big a challenge on the return journey, crossing the Tulli pass, a rapid descent but very severe, with one miss placed foot it can be over.

Part of the trek was along the Everest base trail stopping in at various tea houses, Namche Bazar a small town along the route which has everything you would need to climb Everest in the middle of nowhere, they have everything from ice climbing screws to an Irish pub serving Guinness.

The return route to base camp is a steady climb, mountains on either side and baron, almost desert like, ground. There is a lot of dust and dirt in the air which makes it easy to get chest infection’s (Khumbu cough)

Ben summarises his journey, ”I didn’t reached the top of Mera Peak, gutted was not the word. In hindsight I could have done things a little different.  I’m lucky to have great support both at work for allowing me to go off and do my climbing and more importantly at home, having total support from my other half and kids is a blessing.

I have challenges lined up for 2019; ice climbing up Ben Nevis in January and February; then I’m going to climb Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn in June. Further plans are for rock climbing in the summer months and in 2020; the 3 peak challenge in Bolivia, 6,000m, 6,400m and 6,500m. What I do is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s mine and mine is overflowing.

Along with my daughter, who climbed Nevis in the summer, between us we have raised £3000 for whizzkids. Thank you for everyone’s support for this worthy cause, here is my just giving page if you would like to donate. Thank you”


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