Alex Staniforth: Everest round two

The nineteen-year-old British mountaineer discusses the disaster that halted his Everest attempt last year... and why he is returning to the mountain for another try

Illustration photo of Alex Staniforth: Everest round two

First mountain: “The first was Ben Nevis in March 2010, about 14 years-old, and we didn’t reach the summit. It was full winter conditions and neither I nor my dad had the sufficient mountain experience. I remember suggesting we should turn back when the ground became unsafe. Whilst being extremely disappointed; I recall the feeling of authority and leadership it gave me that has stayed with me for the rest of my mountaineering ‘career’.”

Everest inspiration: “It started when out in the mountains. A simple fateful question just popped into my head from nowhere: ‘Where is Mount Everest?’  I remember getting home and researching it online, becoming almost instantly captivated. I’d suffered Epilepsy aged nine and various problems such as anxiety, panic attacks, low self-confidence, bullying and speech problems came as a result. I’d only recently discovered the world of adventure and extreme sports, and found myself wanting to find what I could overcome next, and prove the bullies wrong.”

Tragedy: “Everything started great; our expedition team trekked in over three weeks feeling strong and well acclimatised. Then we arrived at Lobuche, and heard the news of the tragic avalanche (in which 16 Sherpa guides were killed). We got to base camp the day after to a very solemn mood. It was truly an emotional roller coaster of a week. We stayed low and respected the Sherpa, who were obviously affected the worst by such a traumatic loss. A week later we were told we had no choice but to leave, having not stepped foot above base camp.”

The lure of the mountain: “It’s unfinished business. Everest absorbs your life and embeds itself. You have to sacrifice and dedicate so much of your time to make it a reality that it becomes harder to quit than to carry on.”

Mountain mentality: “From my experience so far, mental preparation is more important than the hours you train per week and the weights you’re lifting... there’s no point having a good engine without a good steering wheel.”

Alex is aiming to raise £30,000 for Adversity at home and away- supporting the Himalayan Trust UK and the Alex Staniforth Adversity Fund supporting mental health, bullying and disabilities in the Cheshire area www.justgiving.com/teams/Everest2015