East Lancs mountain man on high after Everest adventure

Stephen, left, and friend Adam Chiltern at Everest base camp

Stephen, left, and friend Adam Chiltern at Everest base camp

First published in News Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Crime reporter

A firefighter battled glaciers, sheer cliffs and boulder avalanches to make it to Everest base camp.

Stephen Holden was not even deterred from his challenge after hearing about the tragic deaths of expedition helpers on the mountain just days before his trip.

Mr Holden, who also works as a welder fabricator at Graham Engineering in Nelson, said the climb had been a ‘wonderful experience’.

But the experience had not been without its dangers.

Stephen said that on his way back from base camp, he saw huge rocks fall onto mountain guides crossing a ledge he has been walking on just hours before.

He said: “This rock avalanche came down and they had to jump out of the way. I don’t know if they broke any bones.

“But I was not put off. It is just part of the spirit of it.”

An avalanche killed 16 sherpas and other mountain workers shortly before Mr Holden was due to start, but he said that did not put him off his goal of watching the sun rise at base camp.

His wife Paula, a marketing and PR manager, said she was glad to have her husband home.

She said: “The pictures from the trip really are amazing. I was jealous until he told be some of the stories — suspension bridges that are about 1200ft above a river are not my idea of heaven.

“There was also a rock slide on his way back down and he witnessed people jumping some distance onto the rocks below and boulders the size of cars flew towards them. Three of the people in the group had to be airlifted off the mountain with dangerously low oxygen saturation levels. It was certainly an adventure “It was amazing to see Stephen walk through the gates at arrivals and we all got very emotional. We are now planning a summer of fun, with the first stop being the Bushcraft Show later this month, where we will spend the weekend camping, eating bush tucker and learning about wood carving and outdoor survival skills. We can’t wait.”

The father-of-one, of Brentwood Road, added that his adventures would not be stopping at Everest.

He said: “I would like to go to Mount Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains.”

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