Broch fisherman soon to be on top of the world

Gruelling expedition: Sandy will gain strength by reflecting on the reasons he is undertaking this challenge. picture: submitted
Gruelling expedition: Sandy will gain strength by reflecting on the reasons he is undertaking this challenge. picture: submitted

Sandy West of the Fraserburgh trawler Mia Jane will this autumn embark on a self-funded mission deep into the heart of the Himalayas to conquer Everest to raise funds for FISSH which will go towards the flume chute for the new swimming pool.

This will be Sandy’s fourth venture into the kingdom of Nepal, the first in 1992, each time sampling different regions and cultures.

Speaking to the Herald about the forthcoming expedition Sandy said: “After joining a team in Kathmandu we will take a short flight to Lhukla, a narrow sloping landing strip high in the foothills of the Himalya and slowly climb to the first camp at an altitude of 8563 feet and acclimatise.

“Entering the Khumbu national park the following day our permits are checked and we move on to cross two roughly made wooden suspension bridges, left battered and bruised by the previous monsoons, turbulent water thundering down the gorge from the glaciers above, this is not for the faint hearted.

“After an hour and a half of steep ascent, to 11,500 feet, we will arrive at the Sherpa capital village of Namche Bazzar where we will stock up on supplies and stay for a couple of nights to acclimatise to our quick increase in height from Kathmandu.”

The next few days will be spent ascending and descending towards Mt Everest. The team will be assisted by a group of Nepalese porters, cooks and cookboys and long haired yaks, eventually reaching the highest settlement of Lobuche, at 16,110 ft.

Over the course of the following few days the group will continue to progress towards their goal, crossing the glacier and climbing the steep and infrequent traversed Kogna la pass, cresting at 18,150ft, before climbing Pokalde peak, 19,095 feet which will after a trek up the Imja Valley eventually lead them to the base camp for their final objective. Sandy continued: “From here, we will begin the often demanding trek, mostly at high altitude towards our goal, to climb to the summit of Imja-Tse, more often called Island Peak, as it indeed resembles an island on a sea of ice.

“Altogether an impressive mountain of 20.306 feet, with a highly glaciated west face, rising from the Lhotse glacier and a classically beautiful narrow ridge, undulating towards the summit which is reached by a final tricky snow patch of alpine grade pd.

“An exhilarating climb, more interesting than technical, surrounded by one of the most striking scenery in the Khumbu amongst a plethora of giant peaks, although Everest itself is obscured by the close proximity of the massive Lhotse face, this will be the longest day, when all my training runs on the beach and dunes, and long hikes in the Scottish hills will be put to the test.”

Climbing to the summit overnight, Sandy hopes to be able to witness the sunrise above the peaks close by.

“Hopefully we will be standing on the summit as the sun rises above the peaks close by, giving much needed warmth to the bones,” he said.

“All going well we should return to base camp early afternoon, then descend another hour and a half to a small settlement and lay camp for the night.

“This will be hard going at high altitude, so the leader might opt for a high altitude camp, alpine bivouac. If this course is followed we will be situated higher on some level ledges half way up the buttress which leads to island peaks glacier, initiating a start time of 3am rather than midnight”.

To keep Sandy motivated throughout this gruelling expedition, he explained that the Broch will be in the forefront of his mind.

He said: “I am delighted I can contribute in this way to a project that will be a great benefit for the swimming pool, the town and the children, making trips there so much more exciting.

“When the going gets tough, I will reflect on the why I am doing this and gain strength from that.”

Commenting on Sandy’s trip FISSH chairwoman Doreen Mair said: “We are absolutely delighted that Sandy will be raising funds for the leisure facilities within the new swimming pool and sports complex.

“It is an extremely gruelling expedition and we are bowled over by his generosity as he is funding this trip himself. We wish him all the best and hope that the community get behind Sandy and show their support by sponsoring him.”

Sponsor sheets are available at from members of the FISSH committee, the swimming pool, or from Sandy.