March 2024 Open Monthly Meeting

Including a talk by Ed Buckingham – Climbing Everest

Bude U3A Chair, Tina Hyndman, welcomed members to the meeting at the Parkhouse Centre and introduced Ed Buckingham. First, she ran through a few business notices including a reminder that the May meeting will be on the fourth Thursday in the month, May 23rd , rather than the usual third Thursday in the month. There will not be a meeting in August.

Ed Buckingham – Climbing Everest
‘The first Cornishman to climb Everest’, is the proud claim of Edward
Buckingham, the speaker at the u3a March Monthly Meeting last week.
More impressively still, Ed has climbed the highest mountain on each of the
seven continents.

Ed Buckingham’s illustrated talk, ‘Everest’, covered all stages of his
expedition, from preparation and planning to the climb in the Spring of 2011.

Ed, from Saltash, works for Royal Mail and ‘the first thing he needed’, he said, ‘was a good employer to allow the time off’. This was achieved by him taking two years’ allocation ‘in one hit’. Highly motivated, he stressed that he had raised all the (considerable) funds to pay for the expedition

One large cost item was the necessary equipment which he brought along to the meeting for everyone to see and pass around. It’s not every day that you get to hold a pair of boots, with crampons, which have climbed Mt. Everest! ‘Everything you wear or carry’, said Ed, ’has to be attached so that they don’t get blown away. Losing a mitten, for instance, could be disastrous in the very low temperatures.’

Physical preparation was done in Cornwall and included putting on half astone in weight before leaving for the expedition at the end of March, 2011. Ed described the various stages of the ascent from base camp to the summit and how high altitude and low temperatures affect the body. At altitude, he explained, the body absorbs more fluid and the heart rate rises quickly. At the highest altitudes, just taking a couple of steps leaves you gasping for breath. Oxygen cannisters have to be carried by each climber.

At base camp, the snow had gone, but higher up there was thick snow and ice and the strong wind was always a factor. Ed spent about five days at base camp before embarking on the final stages and reaching the summit on May 21st. A very short time is typically spent there. ‘Most accidents happen on the way down,’ said Ed, who saw several bodies as he made his way down the mountain. There was also ‘a lot of stuff’ to be seen, left behind by previous expeditions.

In 2013, Ed received a Gorsedh Award for ‘Exceptional Endeavour’ in recognition of his feat in becoming the first Cornishman to climb Everest.

As well as climbing and adventuring, he has completed ironman and triathlon competitions and is currently training for a marathon. Ed has published two books about his climbing exploits. ‘Seven Summits’ is an autobiographical account of his life and the ascent of the seven highest peaks. His second book, ‘Toby Goes Extreme in Antarctica’, is written and illustrated with young children in mind, and Ed spoke of his pleasure in giving presentations about his expeditions to primary-age kids.

After appreciative applause and questions for the speaker, there were the customary refreshments for all before the meeting closed.

The Gardening Group’s annual plant sale will take place at the April (18th) Monthly Meeting when the speaker will be Jen Ash on ‘Sound Waves South West’.