Portchester army veteran ready to 'risk life' and climb Mount Everest for children's hospice
A DECORATED Afghanistan veteran, who will be climbing the world’s tallest mountain for charity, said he is ready to put his life on the line.
Simon Poland will be jetting off to Nepal on Remembrance Sunday next month to begin his mission to reach the second base camp of Mount Everest.
The courageous 39-year-old from Portchester will be taking on the 20,000ft climb in aid of children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House.
The camp is about 9,000ft shy of the mountain’s summit but to reach it Simon will have to traverse the treacherous Khumbu Glacier, known as the Khumbu Icefall.
Located 17,999ft above sea level on the Nepalese side of Everest, the deadly route is littered with the dead bodies of climbers who have fallen down ravines while crossing the glacier over a series of dangerous ladder bridges.
Two climbers have already died climbing the mountain this year.
But Simon, who has served in war zones in Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Bosnia and was awarded a Queen’s commendation for bravery for his part in rescuing people from a burning factory in 2003, said he was ready for it.
‘I’ve got a sense of adventure,’ said Simon, who served with the 2nd Battalion of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment for 11 years. ‘But you can’t look at it like you’re going to die.
‘Khumbu Icefalls is the most dangerous part of the trip. It’s taken a lot of lives. The Sherpas have put ladders over there that you can cross. But sometimes there’s no rope to hold.
‘Basically if you fall off it, you’re dead.’
However, Simon added: ‘I’ve served on the frontline with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment globally. I feel like I’ve got nerves of steel.’
The trip has been a long time in the planning. However, it has been marred by the coronavirus pandemic, which impacted how Simon could train.
On weekends, the veteran would put on a weighted backpack and clamber up and down Portsdown Hill ‘10 or 20 times a night’.
He would also use his job running South Coast Cleaning and Property Care to climb up and down stairs of skyscrapers like London’s Shard building while he cleaned offices.
More recently, with travel restrictions eased up, he was able to tackle 12,190ft Mount Teide in Tenerife.
He has even been given specialist training by Renegades Gym, in Copnor, to ready him for Everest.
‘Training has been extremely difficult to do because most of it has been local,’ Simon said.
The money will go towards Chestnut Tree House, which is based near Arundel, West Sussex.
The hospice, which Simon has previously trekked the Great Wall of China for, supports about 300 children across Sussex and Hampshire with terminal illnesses.
Simon said: ‘I just wanted to give something back to them. They do such an amazing job.’
Simon will fly to Nepal from Heathrow Airport on November 11.
To support his fundraiser, see justgiving.com/fundraising/simon-poland2