Northampton Everest conqueror raises Â£6000 for charity after he planned to scale world's highest mountain after a sherry in the pub
A flight attendant, who booked a trip to Everest base camp while he was at the pub, has raised more than Â£6,000 for a Northampton hospice following a grueling 5364 metre climb.
Stephen Ellwood, 37, of St Crispins, decided to raise money for Cynthia Spencer Hospice after he first moved to the area nine years ago and found himself intrigued by the charity after seeing numerous collection pots around the town.
In May 2016, while he was having a sherry at the Melbourne Arms in Duston he decided to book a spur of the moment 12-day expedition on his iPad and flew to Nepal on April 11, 2017, after one training session in the gym.
Speaking of his experience while making his way to the base camp with his 12-member group, he said: "I went to bed with altitude sickness and took these tablets, which are meant to stop your brain and eyeballs from swelling because of the altitude.
"I was laying in my bed, and hand on heart I couldn't feel my legs. I was having hallucinations of people jumping off mountains. It was so real I was terrified.
"I woke up on day three and saw my camp mate getting ill and on day four we had to physically carry Mel into a helicopter. She had become so ill that she couldn't even stand up. She was ill for three days before she was released from the hospital."
During the 12 days on the mountain, Stephen only managed to get 30 hours sleep and was told to drink five litres of water a day by his two guides and four sherpas.
"I didn't know it was possible but your whole body aches so much, I would say walking 10 yards took 10 seconds or more."
During day two, Stephen climbed to a village called Namche, which he described as the hardest day of the two weeks as mountaineers have to "zig-zag" up a mountain face for two miles.
He said: "If you slipped, you would die as there were sheer drops, hundreds and hundreds of metres down to the valley."
On day five, during a hike to the world's highest airport, Stephen described how he cried in fear walking down a pathway on the mountain face.
He added: "We thought why are we doing this? Let's go home this is crazy. In my heart, I would love to do it again, but whether I would I still don't know."
It was 25 degrees on some days of the expedition and within just two hours the temperature could drop to minus 15 degrees.
"It was so bitterly cold, but the best part of the whole experience, I would say now I'm home looking back at what I have achieved is, experiencing the lovely people of Nepal.
"I have seen Mount Everest out a window, flying over it so many times with work, but being stood there put it into reality where I was."
Stephen, who has no previous climbing experience, trained in the Derbyshire Dales, the Lake District and went to the gym once.
He urges people to have the self-belief to climb Mount Everest and to take as much time as they need on approach to base camp.