This article first appeared on http://metro.co.uk. The original can be read here.
by Sian Elvin
A group of British climbers were left stranded on Mount Everest for three days during the coronavirus lockdown. After completing a gruelling 10-day trek in Nepal last week, the 14 climbers reached Everest base camp only to find they had to stay there for three days due to a lockdown to prevent the spread of the disease. The group – which included ex-serviceman Brian Mcalpine who was raising money for the British Heart Foundation – battled extreme weather and altitude sickness to reach their goal. Andy Moore, managing director of EverTrek, which organised the trip, said: ‘When Nepal was locked down they stopped all flights to and from Lukla, which is basically the start and end of the base camp trip.
Brian Mcalpine reached Everest base camp to find the world had gone into lockdown
‘So when Brian and the group reached base camp after ten days they found it was in lockdown and they were stranded there for three days. ‘The first thing Brian said to me when they reached base camp was, ‘Get me down now, I really want a beer.’ ‘They’d had a lot of snow at base camp and the temperatures were about -15 so it was tough conditions for them to be stranded in. ‘Luckily all the Sherpa guides who works for us know the local families and they were able to offer accommodation and food, they’ve been fantastic.’ For the latest updates check out our coronavirus live blog. The British Embassy managed to get written permission from the Nepalese government to charter a private flight to get the group out of Lukla to Kathmandu. They are now staying in a hotel specially reopened for them, to get a flight home from Kathmandu in the next two to three days. Brian, 52 and from Essex, took on the Everest challenge in memory of his much-loved boss who died suddenly from a heart condition last year.
He explained: ‘My flights were supposed to have left on Sunday evening but they were cancelled. ‘We are in a comfortable hotel but in total lockdown because the police and army are patrolling the streets. We are all fine and in good spirits. ‘All the shops and tea houses are closed but we’ve all been in great spirits and EverTrek has made sure we’ve been well looked after and fed well by the local people here.’ But Brian said he is just elated that he was able to complete the climb.
‘Last year, sadly my boss was taken from us suddenly by a heart condition in the prime of his life,’ he said. ‘He was a total legend and anyone that met him had nothing but the highest respect for him. ‘Also last year, a friend of mine died suddenly while on holiday with his wife. ‘I know several people that have had stents put in and a couple of friends that have gone open heart surgery.
‘It’s for all these people that I am going to spend this year raising money for the British Heart Foundation.’ He said he had signed up for a number of other events this year and most of these have now been cancelled due to coronavirus – but he still hopes to raise as much money for the BHF as possible. Andy from EverTrek added: ‘This situation had been unprecedented in the company’s experience and a huge challenge but staff in the UK and on the ground in Nepal have been working day and night to get the group back to the UK as quickly as possible.’