Tragic Everest avalanche cuts short Hanwell grandfather's great adventure

6:12am Saturday 31st May 2014

By Andrew Lawton

A HANWELL mountaineer has seen his hopes of reaching the peak of Mount Everest ended after an avalanche which killed 16 Sherpas.

Andy James set out on April 1 on a two-month expedition to climb to the 8,848m summit but the avalanche ended the Everest climbing season.

Mr James was at base camp when the tragic events unfolded but hopes to return to Nepal in 2016 to conquer the world’s largest peak.

“It was disappointing to realise our adventure had come to an end, but the safety of the Sherpas and their families was paramount,” he said.

He and his party safely descended from base camp, which is more than 5,000m above sea level and where night-time temperatures can dip as low as -15°C.

"All I know for a fact is that, as soon as the accident was reported, the very best and most experienced people were on the case and the rescue was mounted immediately,” he said.

“Indeed it appeared to be handled with the precision of a drill.

“They were really the best of the best and the rescue was outstanding.”

Since receiving Sir Edmund Hilary’s book, Nothing Ventured, Nothing Won, at the age of nine from his grandfather, climbing Everest has been his dream.

He had hoped to add the peak to his list of successful expeditions, which already includes Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, Aconcagua, highest in the Americas, and Cho Oyu in the Himalayas.

The 55-year-old remains positive about his experience.

“The camaraderie in base camp between the climbers and the Sherpas is fantastic, and the community feeling in such extreme conditions really pulls everyone together,” he said.

“The mountains that surround you are truly awesome in their hugeness and beauty. The frequency with which avalanches sweep down their sides is a reminder of their power to destroy as well as enchant.”

Mr James, who is married to Clare continues to raise money for The Ellen MacArthur Trust which helps to rebuild the confidence, through sailing, of those aged eight to 24 who have suffered from cancer.

He has already raised more than £2,000 and you can donate by clicking http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=AndyOnEverest&faId=418673&isTeam=false

He is a familiar figure around Hanwell and says his second home is Gold’s gym, where he has worked hard to keep his weight down, but still enjoys a visit to his favourite pub, The Castlebar on Uxbridge Road, and his favourite restaurant, Charlotte’s Place, on St Matthew’s Road.

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