Argus editor Michael Beard was one of a team of walkers climbing to Everest base camp to raise money for good causes in Sussex via The Argus Appeal. He shares his story with readers

“Come on. You can do this. You’ve got to do it because so much depends on it.”

They were hardly words of inspiration but they were sufficient to drive the negative thoughts from my head and set me on the way to completing the most incredible trek I have ever undertaken.

I had to take myself to task after a sleepless night in a lodge 4,930 metres (16,174ft) up a mountain in Nepal and less than 12 hours before I hoped to be walking into Everest Base Camp.

It was a night I will never forget.

For every single minute I had struggled to breathe. At that height oxygen is little more than 50% than at sea level.

The vital air that did reach my lungs arrived in involuntary rushes making sleep impossible.

Our guides had warned us about altitude sickness and after seeing five of the party succumb and have to abandon their attempt to reach base camp – one ending up in hospital – I think it‘s true to say that every one of the 11 remaining in our party harboured some doubts as to whether they would be next.

The insomnia had played tricks on me. Suddenly that throbbing in my head was a sign that I would be next, the slight blurring in my eyes was not lack of sleep but another indicator that I would be struck down anytime.

It was then that I took myself to a quiet corner and gave myself a quick reminder of why I was there. It had been a long-held dream to tackle the walk. I was also doing it for charity.


I tried to recall some of the causes which have benefited from The Argus Appeal and how they had used the money we have raised for them.

One image was of a severely handicapped boy riding a specially adapted tricycle we had bought. The smile on his face spread from ear to ear as he rode it for the first time. That was all I needed.

On went the boots for the eighth consecutive morning along with the warm clothes we would need to beat the darkness and subzero temperatures such an early start forced us to face.

A few hours later the feelings of doubt had been replaced by something I can only describe as euphoria. We had reached our goal.

At that time of year base camp is deserted apart from trekkers and is nothing more than a flag announcing where you are and a display of prayer flags.


All around were mountains that seemed to reach forever towards the blue sky. And there was Everest itself. Huge, imposing and dominating the entire landscape in a way that it should with snow blowing off its peak as if it was smoking.

As we savoured the moment there was little to say apart from the totally inadequate “well done”. At 5,364 metres (17,598ft) we just stood and tried to take it all in, to savour what we had achieved.

The walk back to that night’s accommodation was done almost in silence. We were still coming to terms with the fact that we had made it.

It took us eight days to reach base camp from the airfield at Lukla and another four to descend. The flights in and out will also remain with me for a very long time.

Rumours abounded that it was one of the most dangerous airports in the world. We appeared to be landing on a piece of tarmac just a couple of hundred metres long that literally ended at the edge of a cliff. No wonder they gave us “good luck” scarves as we climbed aboard for the flight home.


It’s not just the flight that will live with me. I will never forget the incredible beauty and magnitude of the mountains. We were blessed with perfect weather which allowed us to enjoy a landscape that must be among the most breathtaking in the world.

And then there are the people who live in the mountains. Despite the daily hardships they face just to survive, their friendliness and welcoming smiles will be impossible to forget. Among them were the porters who make their living carrying what looked like their entire body weight on their backs up and down the steep trails. They really are the toughest people I have ever met.

I will also remember our guides, led by Gelu, who looked after us so well and made us feel safe at all times.

And then there are my fellow trekkers, particularly my Sussex colleagues Phil Frier, the former principal of City College Brighton and Hove, Clare Rogers, the owner of the Treatment Rooms Spa in Brighton, and Steve Allen, founder of Prime Care Community Services Limited.

Their support, friendship and the odd sickness tablet kept me going and my spirits up.

‘A huge thank you’

My walk has raised more than £4,350 for The Argus Appeal. As well as being editor of The Argus I am also chairman of the appeal and can promise everyone who donated that the money will be put to good use making a real difference to the lives of people in our community.

Huge thanks are owed to Southern Water which offered to match my original £2,000 target if I reached base camp and unfurled a flag to prove it. It was true to its word and last week handed me a cheque for £2,000.

There is still time to add to that total and help a good cause in Sussex.

My JustGiving page has closed but you can still send a cheque made payable to The Argus Appeal, Argus House, Crowhurst Road, Hollingbury, Brighton,  BN18AR.

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