04/03/2011 – Construction site manager Stewart Edge from Wirral will be swapping his hard hat for mountaineering boots this summer in order to climb Mount Everest. The 32 year old, who attended Calday Grammar School and grew up in Heswall, has been selected for the gruelling challenge in May 2011 and will be raising funds for Starlight, a national charity that grants wishes for seriously and terminally ill children and provides entertainment in hospitals and hospices across the UK.
Stew is currently working on the City of London’s tallest building, The Heron Tower, but at 775ft the building is only a fraction the size of Everest. Towering 29,035ft above sea level, Everest is the highest mountain on Earth – that’s 6.5 times as high as Ben Nevis (4,409ft).
“I’ll be running up and down the stairs at the Heron Tower, as part of my training,” laughs Stew. “Oh – and I’ll be inspecting the building work as I do.”
Stew has set himself the personal challenge of raising £29,035 in sponsorship – a pound for every foot. He started by holding a hog roast, and charging guests £20, and has undertaken other sponsored challenges, including a practice run up Mount Blanc (15,771ft) with his construction buddies. Stew’s also holding a sweepstake, in which the person who correctly guesses the time and day of ascent, will receive a kitesurfing lesson.
“I’m actually more daunted by the amount I’ve decided to raise,” confesses Stew. “Everest will be a doddle after this!”
Joking aside, Stew’s is well aware of the dangers ahead. He’s an experienced mountaineer, who’s already climbed Mount Blanc, and South America’s highest mountain, Cerro Aconcagua (22841ft) – but admits that Everest is daunting.
“It’s the ultimate challenge – it’s extremely hard, as there are blocks of ice three storeys high, giant crevasses and unstable ice bridges. At the top you’re extremely exposed – no-one can rescue you if something goes wrong, and climbers have been left to die there before.”
Stew’s employer, Scheldebouw, has given him three months leave for the expedition, which will involve seven days spent walking up to base camp, and 50 days on the mountain acclimatising and setting up high camps. The ascent itself will take five days when the weather window appears.
Winds of up to 120mph winds batter Everest for 10 months of the year, only being pushed away as the monsoon approaches. Once the weather window opens it’s a race against time to summit before the Monsoon arrives with heavy snowfall.
The majority of Stew’s expedition will be on snow, in temperatures of -40degrees, whilst carrying a third of his own bodyweight in equipment.
“It’ll be tough, but climbing Everest has been a lifelong ambition,” says Stew. “Ever since I opened an Atlas at the age of six I’ve wanted to do this, and now’s my chance. As I’m living my dream, I can’t think of better cause than to raise money for seriously and terminally ill children to live theirs.”
For more high-resolution images and interviews, please call Stewart on 07920 018157 or send him an email. Read his blog at www.intrepid-edge.com/, become a friend on Facebook (Intrepid-Edge), and to sponsor Stew, log on to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/stewartedge.
Contact: Henny Breakwell
Tel: 020 7262 2881 #231
Starlight grants a once-in-a-lifetime wish for seriously and terminally ill children, restoring the magic and fun of childhood and giving the whole family happy memories to share, whatever the future holds.
Starlight also creates entertainment in every hospital and hospice throughout the UK. Sick children go to Starlight parties, laugh their way through pantomimes, go out on Starlight Escapes, play games and watch films on the Starlight Fun Centre, and enjoy the toys and puzzles of the Starlight Distraction Box. Happy children respond better to treatment and Starlight helps children to forget about their illness and simply have a bit of fun.
You can make a donation online or by calling us on 020 7262 2881. For every £1 you donate, Starlight can assure you that 91p goes towards helping very ill children. To refer a child for a wish, simply complete our wish referral form.