02 May 1997
tance out precisely while he was camped, for six days, within sight of the peak, waiting, hoping, for a break in the weather. It never came.Temperatures on Everest will be below freezing at base camp, dropping to below -26C(-20F) as he goes higher. Add to that the wind chill factor. Hardly T-shirt weather.
Spring snow showers could be a problem. Theres the continual threat of avalanches – not to mention the danger of breakages, strains or altitude sickness. On many days, Chriss rucksack will weigh more than 30kg (67lb). At the very least, hell will come home 12.6kg (2st) lighter than when he left.
“And remember, even if you get to the summit of a mountain, youre actually only half way there, because you have to come down as well. You cant stop concentrating for a second. You can only relax when youre back at base camp.”
Yes, Chris is afraid. “I have fear because its Everest,” he says. “But my biggest fear is of failing.”
With no way of getting in touch with his wife, Susan, and 19-year-old son, Matthew, it can be a time of loneliness.
Keeping a diary helps. Its also useful material for the talks and slide shows he gives which raise money for charity. Last winter he was doing three a week, collecting 6000 in the process.
One, in particular, he remembers was a farmers discussion group at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. Over 300 was raised that night.
The months before departure for Everest on Mar 23 saw him intensify his training programme. Long-distance running, plus regular trips to the gym and the climbing wall have been high on the agenda.
In the hills above Ripon, along the lanes, around the cricket field, Chris could be seen running. Stopping, only occasionally, in pubs. “For water, and nothing else,” he stresses.
Not forgetting, of course, the day-to-day business of arable, potato and beef farming at the 240ha (600-acre) North End Farm at Baldersby.
And it will be to his farm that Chriss thoughts keep returning as he tackles Everest.
“Its great to get back from a trip and smell greenery. The smell of soil, of newly-ploughed earth.
“Not to mention a kiss from the wife and a hot bath.”
*To make a donation or sponsor Chris ring (01765-640398)