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Thursday 27 July 2017

The journey to the summit of Everest

Every now and again, we receive news from our alumni about the incredible things they have been up to since graduation; their achievements and accomplishments. 

We are constantly amazed at your drive and the positive impact you, our alumni community, are having across the world.

Not least when we were recently contacted by class of 1995 Recreation Management BA(Hons) alumnus, Sean James, who earlier this year led an expedition up Mount Everest. And we thought Kinder Scout was an achievement!

Sean got in touch to tell us about his journey from graduation to the summit of the world's highest mountain."Everest gets a lot of bad press from the mainstream media and people within the climbing community but it is still a spectacular mountain, even more so from the less popular north side of Tibet. It captures people's imaginations and has an almost magnetic draw. The whole mountain stands and dominates basecamp so you are always reminded of its presence. 

"We started in the wonderful city of Kathmandu and spent a few weeks acclimatising to the altitude before flying to Lhasa and making our way overland to basecamp. It was 16 days before we even got to basecamp as we needed to allow our bodies to adjust slowly. Everest climbing season starts around the beginning April each year and finishes in the first week of June when the monsoon arrives and the jet stream makes it impossible to climb anymore.

"I led a group of seven people including two sherpas, an American, a Slovenian and the rest British.
Six people summited which is a very high percentage, even though this year the weather was particularly unstable and changeable with very high winds.

"I also led a group to Everest in 2015, the year of the big earthquake when over 9000 people in Nepal died. We did not suffer any casualties but had to abandon the climb. After that experience I wrote and published a book “From Dubai to Everest”. All profits were to support the people of Nepal in the aftermath of the disaster. This was the first time that I summited, and so I became one of approximately 370 British people who have stood on the highest point in the world.

"I studied Recreation Management at the former Totley Campus in 1995. I also took a Diploma in Outdoor Education in the evenings at Collegiate Crescent. After that I qualified as a Mountain Leader and a Single Pitch Rock Climbing Instructor. I grew up in London but Sheffield has been my home for 25 years now. I still am in contact with my lecturer Colin Beard. He was a great inspiration back then and for us pioneered experiential learning and using the environment for development.

"I feel very lucky to be in a position to work as a guide and be given the responsibility to lead a team. It has taken a long time to develop the experience to get here. I led this expedition for a UK company, Adventure Peaks, based in the Lake District and have worked as a freelance mountain guide for them for the last 15 years taking groups of clients to high mountains all around the world including South America, Russia, Africa, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Iran, Tajikistan, Oman, Borneo, Ecuador, Nepal and many more!

"Before this, my partner and I lived in Dubai for 7 years where I worked on a contract to train the Emirati military. I spent two years doing that and then applied for a position as lecturer at a university there. I lectured in a variety of subjects such as Human Resource Management, ethics, leadership, critical thinking and ecology. For the past two years I have been guiding high altitude mountains full time and summited, without bottled oxygen, Manaslu 8156m, Cho Oyu 8201m and Everest 8,848m

"I think travel, adventure and exploring different cultures is in my blood but my ties to Sheffield and the Peak District are very strong. I love coming back here and it's unlike any other city."


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