In the first of our #AccomplishedSpirit posts, brand ambassador Lee Peare talks trekking to the Mount Everest base camp, what it takes to overcome challenges, and the #AccomplishedSpirit philosophy.
How did your Mount Everest adventure come about?
Everest came about around November last year. One of my best friends moved back to London and asked how life was, and over a Guinness or two I realised that I was missing one major thing in life: a big challenge. So after another pint and a little Irish bravado, we settled on Everest. We knew that we could never climb the whole thing, as that would take years of total dedication, but to trek the whole way to base camp while carrying all our own equipment would be a challenge unlike any other.
When do you travel out, and how long will the trek take?
We leave on 7 March and the trek takes 15 days in total. We are going on a circular trek via the Gokyo Lakes, crossing the Cho La Pass to Everest base camp. We will be trekking over 160km in this time and reaching altitudes of up to 6,000m.
What parts of the Everest climb do you think will be the most challenging?
All of it. There is no way to tell how your body will react to altitude. We will have time to acclimatise as we go, but as we get higher up we it is going to get very difficult, especially when carrying so much equipment.
You are also undertaking a number of challenges in the run-up to the expedition. Give us an overview...
I was reminded by an old friend that there is being fit and then there is being hill fit! So I started looking for endurance challenges that would really test me to my limits – if I could complete them, Everest would be a walk in the park. So I contacted the guys at theSFexperience.com and signed up for a whole range of challenges with them. They are the only organisation of its kind run and staffed by ex-UK Special Forces soldiers, offering endurance challenges replicating sections of what is undoubtedly the toughest selection course in the world. I can tell you first hand, these are tough! But I am loving the challenge.
What appeals to you about these adventures? How did you first get into this sort of thing?
I love the thought of pushing myself to my physical and mental limits, then breaking those and continuing on. For the past few years I have been travelling a lot with work and found that I had lost that little escape that challenging myself gave me. I missed it! So when I bit the bullet and booked the first challenge, I knew I had to do it and that there was no backing down. Then when I completed the first one, I was hooked! That was it; I felt like a new man, and the exhilaration that it gave me just drives me on to do bigger and better things. This has also had a knock-on effect on the rest of my life. I found I was more alert, more disciplined and eager to take on each day with a renewed vigour.
How do you prepare mentally for all these challenges? What keeps you going when it gets really tough?
Without a doubt the hardest thing with all of these challenges it the mental aspect. Anybody can be fit, but when the wind is driving the rain so hard into your face it feels like needles, and the 50lb pack on your back feels like 500lb, this is when is when you gotta dig deep down inside and find the part of you that won’t give up. Everybody has their own way of dealing with this point when they reach it. When they do they are tested, but know it’s a test and overcome it and push on. But there are a lot of people who don’t, who haven’t found that inner strength and give up. I have my my own ways, as do many others, to keep me going and one of them comes from part of a speech given by Admiral W H McRaven at Texas University in 2014. In this speech he relates the difficulties he faced during his time training to become a U.S. Navy Seal and concluded it with his view on never giving up:
“Finally, in Seal training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the centre of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit, all you have to do to quit, is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o'clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT — and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell. If you want to change the world don't ever, ever ring the bell.”
Describe the #AccomplishedSpirit philosophy. How does this all fit together? What’s the bigger picture?
The #AccomplishedSpirit idea came from an old photo I found of Tom Crean, who was an Antarctic explorer and a member of Captain Scott’s expedition team. In the photo he is raising a toast with his colleagues on completion of another voyage, and there was something about this that really struck home. He accomplished something great and he wanted to share it with his colleagues and friends by raising a little glass of something in celebration. I thought to myself, this is something that encompasses Ableforth’s perfectly, so why not start something. I thought why not help people to accomplish something that they have always wanted to do, then share it with them by toasting their achievement with a little drop of one of our accomplished spirits! So the plan came together. Now if you are going to ask people to step out of their comfort zone and endeavour to achieve these goals, well you have to lead by example, or at least show that you are willing to step in and get dirty too.