Wheelchair Explorer Glenn Shaw Reaches Everest Base Camp
In October last year disabled explorer Glenn Shaw left the UK for
a unique expedition to the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest.
Glenn has a medical condition known as 'Brittle Bones'. He knows
that the slightest knock can result in a broken limb. A simple fall
might kill him outright. As a result, Glenn is confined to a wheelchair.
But Glenn is an explorer, and treats his physical disability as
simply another obstacle to overcome.
The expedition aimed to reach Base Camp - at an altitude of 17,000ft
(5200m). Below is Glenn's summary of the expedition....
Waiting at London Heathrow with only hours before the off I recall
my mind was full of everything and nothing. There was no going back,
it was time to get mind, body and soul ready for Everest.
My team and I arrived safe and sound in Kathmandu, and after gathering
our thoughts it was time settle in and enjoy all the sights and
sounds that this remarkable city has to offer. The next leg would
take us by plane from Kathmandu to Lhasa in Tibet.
After a short but stunning flight over the Himalaya we arrived in
Tibet's capital city. Lhasa was far more modern than anticipated,
especially in comparison with Kathmandu and after four days of acclimatisation
it was time to hit the road bound for Everest.
During our road trip we stopped off at various small Tibetan towns
and villages and it was delightful to experience a slice of real
Tibet. Tingri was our last stop before arriving at Rongphu and Everest
Base Camp and it was now a question of focussing on Everest.
As my team and I arrived at Rongphu the weather was atrocious and
the drivers of our Land Cruisers did not want to proceed through
the bad conditions, after lengthy negotiations we eventually made
our way to where our Sherpas had set up camp.
The following day the intention was to travel from Rongphu Monastery
back up to Everest Base Camp using the specially developed Everest
Wheelchair. This was a trek of 7km and the terrain was icy with
calf-deep snowdrifts and gale force winds. Headlong we faced the
wind chill and I found my legs starting to seize and become incredibly
painful. Upon reaching camp the team were highly fatigued and some
members began to feel the effects of altitude sickness. Dr Kim's
expedition medical experience was to prove invaluable in helping
the team recover sufficiently to continue participating the following
day. Everest had given us a harsh welcome.
After a day of rest I was to fulfil one of my childhood ambitions
with a visit to the memorial cairn for George Mallory and Andrew
Irvine. For me this was my Everest, it was very moving and well
worth all the hard work and pain to get there.
Having spent 5 nights at Everest base camp it was clear to me that
you needed to be made of pretty stern stuff to survive up there
for any length of time. My hands were very battered, palms, fingers
and thumbs were covered in splits and cracks, they looked like they'd
been to hell and back! My lips were also incredibly dry, sore and
After such an adventure it was in many ways strange to be back
in Kathmandu, all were safe and well but exhausted after spending
6 days above 17000ft. I felt spent but even though things had been
hard I generally felt that I'd operated well in the extreme climate.
The Everest wheelchair had enabled me to be mobile in the tough,
rocky environment surrounding Everest base camp and altitude sickness
had not been a problem.
Upon arrival back in London it was time to reflect on the past
3 weeks. The expedition was the result of over 18 months of planning
and fundraising and I'm deeply grateful to all my sponsors and to
my dedicated team of supporters. Through my efforts I hope to spread
a message of determination and provide inspiration to others. There's
a whole world out there, go and explore it and don't let anyone
or anything hold you back!
London, January 2004
Glenn Shaw 07880 507263, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
for high resolution photography from the expedition.