Mark Corbett: the climb to Everest

Mark took on the challenge of a lifetime to raise money for Leukaemia Care. Here, he recounts his journey to the top of Everest Base Camp and all the hurdles that came along with it.

18,000 feet. 14 days. Mount Everest. All for Leukaemia Care.

On the 21st October, I began my trip to reach Everest Base Camp. I flew to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, before taking another flight to Lukla. Lukla is home to one of the world’s most dangerous airports, but it was also where I began the 150km trek through the Himalayas.

Many will share the joys of the challenge, but I can only be honest. The trek to Everest was grueling, and the hardest thing I have done in my life. I’m not great with heights, so I faced my fears daily, whether that be travelling across a bouncy suspension bridge or walking on narrow trails with a drop of several hundred feet right along the side of it.

When the day of trekking came to an end, we were of course not met by a five-star service. We slept in little, cold lodges and by day three we had no warm water to shower in. So, wet wipe washes were the next best thing. Even sleeping was a tricky task; as the altitude rose, there was less oxygen, so a good night’s rest was never on the cards.

But then you get that lump in the throat moment. Day three was the first day we looked out and could see Everest. No matter where you looked, the scenery seemed as if it had been taken straight out of a postcard, and it gave me another reason to push on.

I took each day one at a time, not even really thinking of the end goal until I was a couple of days away from it, knowing only severe altitude sickness would stop me from doing it.

Day eight – base camp day was special. We set off in the freezing cold morning and got there at 9:22am; a time and date I’ll never forget. It was eerily quiet, other than being able to hear the glacier cracking loudly every few minutes.

We stayed for around an hour, before setting off back down.

Climbing to Mount Everest Base Camp was a huge challenge and not one I took lightly. The training and preparation for the trek was relentless. But there was a good reason I was doing this.

I think everybody will have at some point in their lives known someone affected by leukaemia. It can affect anyone, at any point in their life.

As a family, we have been touched by leukaemia twice. Firstly Joe, the son of family friends who lost his life to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) at just 20 years of age. And secondly, my motherin-law Shirley, who lost her life to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Shirley was so incredibly brave and strong throughout her illness, but sadly lost her life in June of 2022. She was one of life’s good ones; positive, always busy and had a huge influence on my own children when they were growing up. She was even one of the first to donate when she found out I was taking on this challenge.

On day seven of the trek, I was able to put a photo of Shirley and Joe’s tie that our friends had given me on one of the memorial stones at the Everest Memorial. On the way back down, I was able to stop back off there just to let them know I had done it.

I’m still not over the challenge; I’m worn out and feel as if I’m on a comedown. With these experiences, everyone will always share how it amazing it is – which of course it was – but not how it can feel when it’s all over. I want to share the reality.

I’ve spent 18 months planning it, training for it, and thinking about it several times a day, so to go from that to nothing, I don’t really know what to do with myself at the minute. But perhaps when the dust has settled, another challenge could be on the cards…

Mark has raised a whopping £2,809 and counting!

We would love to say a massive thank you to Mark for his incredible commitment to raising money for Leukaemia Care. Every day, we are amazed by the lengths people like Mark go to towards helping us continue supporting those affected by a leukaemia, MDS or an MPN diagnosis.

Do you fancy taking on the challenge of a lifetime in 2024? We’d love to talk to you about it! Let us know what sort of challenges make you tick and let’s start your fundraising journey today, together. Drop us an email and tell us what you’ve got in mind by contacting fundraising@leukaemiacare.org.uk.

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