Entrepreneurs Prepare For A Mountain Of A Challenge

Posted on the 10 February 2010

Entrepreneurs Prepare For A Mountain Of A Challenge

An intrepid team of successful North East entrepreneurs are set to scale new heights by embarking on the challenge of a lifetime.

The businessmen and women, who are all members or associates of the Entrepreneurs' Forum, are to trek the Himalayas to Everest Base Camp – and raise thousands of pounds for charity on the way.

For most, the expedition is an opportunity to step out of their successful businesses and test themselves in an extreme personal challenge, which will demand high levels of fitness and stamina.

Carole Beverley, chief executive of the Forum, is joining members on the climb, which is being led by experienced Everest trekker Don Cowper and local Sherpas through Charity Challenge, the organisation that took celebrities up Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief last year.

The team departs on April 30, flying to Kathmandu and on to Lukla at 10,000ft before setting out on their trek to base camp at 17,000ft or 5,400m.

They will climb for eight days and take four days on the return leg, camping en route and eating in tea houses.

Their kit will be carried by yaks. The group will also be accompanied by a doctor and first aiders.

Don has been to the Himalayas five times before, as well as scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, completing the Inca Trail in Peru, cycling the length of Lake Malawi and, in 2013, will be the official starter of the Everest marathon.

He said: "Everest is the most spectacular and beautiful place I have been in the world. I've seen golden eagles and some of the most amazing flora and fauna up there, as well as 100 metre high bridges and tranquil monasteries.

"The total trek is about 40 miles. We will spend one night at base camp and reach the highest point on the trek, Kalapathar at 5,545m, with breathtaking views of Everest.

"Anyone who is reasonably fit and leads an active life should be OK as long as they take their time to become acclimatised to the altitude."

Weekly training sessions are being provided by Tony Douglass of Bodyguards gym in Jesmond, Newcastle, who is working on strength and cardio vascular fitness with the trekkers, as well as giving tips on nutrition and eating for energy.

The team has also been supported by Berghaus, which has provided advice on the best gear to take.

As well as fundraising for their own chosen charities, the trekkers will be raising money for Show Racism the Red Card, the North East based charity which runs workshops combining football coaching and fitness with promoting teamwork and understanding between young people.

The adventurers will also visit local schools in Nepal, taking stationery and balloons for the children.

Carole said: "Our Everest Trek is something completely different from the Forum and will be a unique, memorable and possibly life changing experience for all of us who have signed up.

"Business brings with it many challenges and summits to climb. This is obviously a totally different kind of challenge but the self discipline, teamwork and motivation needed are all qualities that our entrepreneurs demonstrate every day in business.

"This is a very dynamic group and I am sure they will learn a great deal about themselves and each other – things that they can draw on in the future and apply to their businesses when they return. Raising money is also a fantastic motivator and we are proud to be supporting Show Racism the Red Card – a national charity started in our region – as well as many other worthy causes."

Anyone wishing to donate to the Carole's fundraising effort, which will be split between Cash For Kids, The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Show Racism The Red Card can do so via http://www.everyclick.com/entrepreneursbasecampchallenge

Here, some of the trekkers explain why they are doing it, how they are preparing and predict how their businesses will cope without them:

Ian Phillips, EEW Electrical Services, Durham:
"I'm 50 this year and I'm aim was to turn it into a year of self-challenge, but I had not considered something like this before. I'm doing it for the challenge and self-discipline it will need, and I'd also like to raise money for charity. It's a chance to totally escape for a couple of weeks and enjoy the camaraderie of being with likeminded people - being in a group is a much better motivator. The Himalayas is an environment that you can't actually envisage until you're there and I can't wait to see it."

Anne Ganley, Thompson Building Centres and TAPS plumbers' merchants, Sunderland:
"I love the idea of having to go to bed at 8pm at night - all that sleep! I always push myself at work; it's just what I do to try and get better each day. I get a lot of satisfaction from it but it's the personal side that often gets parked. I'm doing this to test myself, for the personal challenge and to really push myself."

Rob Lawson, Point Pleasant Communications, Ouseburn:
"I am going with my mother, Yon Lawson, who is 65, retired and wanted a challenge. It's not the sort of thing you will do unless you make the effort, it's something different and something to get fit for."

Peter Nixon, Recruitment Now and Nixon Hire, Newcastle:
"My wife Sarah volunteered me for the trek for her dietary reasons, the idea being that she would join me on training sessions. We live in Tynemouth so I go running up and down the steps at King Edward's Bay and on the beach. I climbed Kilimanjaro a few years ago and got a big buzz out of getting fit and raising money. I'm hoping I'll get a great sense of achievement from it. In business you always have to motivate yourself and keep up your self esteem and it's been a hard couple of years in that respect for many people in business. Also, having worked for 25 years in a family business straight from school you never know how good you are so this is my way of pushing myself personally. It gives you a lot of disciplines you need in business and doing it with likeminded people I think will mean we'll be able to share stories and concerns."

Dr Tony Trapp, IHC Engineering Business, Riding Mill:
"I live in Northumberland and I can step out my door and walk for five hours. I've just had three weeks walking and cycling in New Zealand and I've trekked in Namibia. I've not done anything at this altitude so I'm looking forward to the physical and mental challenge. The team dynamics of a trip like this will always be interesting – what people are like when sleep deprived, how they will cope with blisters, who will emerge as leaders and so on. Business is all about working with people; this is a group of people thrown together who don't know each other very well and the interaction that goes on will be really interesting."

Ann Bell, Datasafe Storage, Newcastle:
"My mum died of cancer in September. I'll be raising money for Cancer Research as well as Show Racism the Red Card and will have a handkerchief soaked in Chanel No 5 up there to remind me of her. You don't get the opportunity to climb to Everest every day and this is a chance of a lifetime. I've decided to do two major events a year. One year I did the Great North Run and the Gothenburg half marathon, this year I'm doing the Great North Run and Everest. Not being contactable up there means I can relax 100 per cent; I won't know what's happening and I won't worry about it. I run the business with my ex-husband so I can go with a clear conscience. The only thing I've got a problem with is not being able to use a hairdryer and straighteners..."

Eddie Czestochowski, Cell Pack Solutions Ltd and CPS Hobbies, South Shields:
"I won an award last year and when I was finally allowed to tell people about it – in December – I decided I wanted it to be the start of a really special year. This is so far out of my comfort zone that I took a week to think about it then decided ‘that's it, I'm going to do it'. I go to the gym but this has really given me something to focus on; it's a fantastic goal over the next few months. I have worked for ten years solid growing the business so this is a bit of me time, a personal challenge and a chance to do something for charity. I've got a great team – I spent some time in China 18 months ago and they coped fine without me, so I've no worries there. In fact, my going to Everest has spurred them on to do charity challenges – one guy is cycling from London to Paris and others have said they'll do the Great North Run."

Georgie Cameron, Admiral PR & Marketing, Newcastle:
"I live in Northumberland and do quite a bit of walking but my first experience of a group challenge was walking Hadrian's Wall from Cumbria to Newcastle. There were five of us and we are all very different. It's really interesting how a group mixes; you learn to see things from other people's perspectives. We're bound to do a bit of networking; I'm not interested in being competitive but entrepreneurs are a competitive bunch naturally. For me, it will be about the scenery and the difference of place. I have a very capable team and they will cope fine without me. We've all made a commitment to raise money for breast cancer care this year so that's my chosen charity."