TEENAGERS ROB GAUNTLETT AND JAMES HOOPER HAVE BECOME THE YOUNGEST BRITONS TO CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST, AFTER REACHING THE SUMMIT AT 3:15AM THIS MORNING.
The gap year students left school at Christ’s Hospital, West Sussex last year, and they have taken the title from Jake Meyer, who was 21 when he climbed the 8850m mountain last year. Both Rob and James celebrated their 19th birthdays at base camp under a month ago. All three have climbed with expedition leaders Adventure Peaks (www.adventurepeaks.com).
They say the climb was motivated by the fight of both cancer sufferers close to them, as well as adults who have devoted their time to giving opportunities to youngsters such as themselves. They are raising money for Cancer Research UK, and hope to inspire other youngsters to follow their dreams, whilst encouraging the dedicated individuals who continue to provide them with those opportunities.
Their climb from the North side of the mountain in Tibet has already seen them fight illness, weight loss and storms above 7000m, as well as the knowledge of the sad deaths of a number of climbers already this year. Rob’s parents admit ‘We are very excited and proud of how hard they have worked, and of the message of their climb, but there is no champagne until they are back down safely.’
Best friends at school, they first conceived the idea three years ago and have since climbed in the Alps, Pakistan and Nepal as well as all over the UK. They both climbed over 6000m before they could drive, and they funded all their expeditions through holiday work as builder’s labourers and waiters.
The Everest trip however is funded by a number of generous corporate sponsors, although three weeks before the expedition they had almost no funding, and only a few days before they were due to go they were contemplating the impossible decision of sending only one of them.
From the top of the world Rob said ‘James and I are really keen on getting the message out to young people to follow your dreams. This has been our dream for three years. Get out there, follow it up and make sure you make it happen.’