“Are you mad?” or “wow!” accompanied with raised eyebrows and a slap on the back that silently says “rather you than me”. These are some responses we get when sharing our plans to trek to Everest Base Camp. It does beg the question, are we bonkers? Perhaps the thought dashed across our minds at some point, even just for a nano-second. How does one fit a saddle simultaneously to a horse living in Nepal and a rider based in London? How will Max endure twelve 8 hour+ days in the saddle?
The logistics are at times, even we admit, just a little bit mad. But, it is this slight madness, whizzed up with Max’s optimism and determination for riding to Everest Base Camp, that makes it pretty damn remarkable. After all, that’s how Max got the team to share his dream.
The first step towards Max's dream morphing into a reality was the fortune of our three paths crossing. In early 2016 we all met at RDA Hyde Park, bizarrely all joining that group within about 6 months of each other (never having met before, pretty serendipitous, if you go in for that kind of thing). Our friendship quickly formed during the weekly rides but was firmly cemented in our post RDA gatherings in the local pub.
On one particularly drizzly Thursday evening in February, Max voiced his lifelong pipe-dream to climb Kilimanjaro on a horse to raise money for RDA. Drawn together perhaps by the total misplacement of smelling horsey in a Knightsbridge pub but more so by Max's undeniably uplifting idea, Livi and Giles raised their glasses. We will do it, together!
Over the next six months we made trips to Giles’ stamping ground in Leicestershire and for the first time Max rode out with friends rather than in a formal RDA group. Occasionally we mentioned the trip, or told the odd person we would do it but, if we are totally honest we had no real idea how to go about it.
“Of-course this is theoretically possible, even if it hasn’t been done before. But you’ll have to go to Everest, as there are no horses allowed in the Kilimanjaro National Park. It’ll have to be base camp”. Paraphrased (heavily), but these were the sentiments of Gavin Bate of Adventure Alternative who catapulted this how’s-it-ever-gunna-happen-dream into a realistic adventure. When that email landed in our inbox, Max’s reaction pretty much summed it up: “This is actually going to happen guys” (*insert possible expletive*).
Since Gavin's email in autumn 2016 things have propelled forwards pretty speedily. The raised eyebrows and "are you mad"'s have given way to waves of enthusiasm and support for the venture. We have so far been astounded at those willing to help in someway and be part of the project. It's going to be a demanding challenge but we hope that it's optimistic insanity will help raise significant funds and awareness for RDA and hopefully change a perception or two about disability along the way.