Mountaineer Mike Trueman gives a talk on his Everest Conquest

A full capacity crowd of over two hundred students, parents and local people came to the Queens Hall Theatre on Wednesday 2nd May to hear former parent Mike Trueman tell of his exploits on Mount Everest. He focused in particular on the tragic events of 1996, when an international team attempted the Polish South Pillar route on Everest when the much-publicised storm hit the mountain, claiming the lives of eight climbers. As the storm raged, Mike was asked to descend to Base Camp to coordinate the rescue. In 1999, Mike returned and reached the summit of Everest.

In setting the context, Mike told of the history of the attempts to conquer Everest, starting with George Mallory in 1922 – whose body was only recently found in 2013 – through to Sir Edmund Hilary in 1952. He gave a detailed breakdown of the tried and tested routes to the summit and some of the environmental and health hazards faced by mountaineers. The stunning photographs alone brought home the scale of the major Himalayan peaks, whilst Mike’s gripping words illustrated the fascination they exert – and at the same time the cost in lives lost they have caused. His description and images of the Icefall, the route up to the so-called Balcony and the increasingly inhospitable camps along the way struck all present with awe.

Mike Trueman is a former officer in Britain’s Brigade of Gurkhas, who was awarded the Sword of Honour when he graduated from Sandhurst. He flew helicopters with the Army Air Corps before commanding the Army Mountain Training Centre in Germany and has led expeditions around the world, including over twenty to the Himalayas and four to Everest.

Since leaving the army, Mike has worked as a humanitarian aid agency director, held European Union appointments in the former Yugoslavia and led a UN team in Nepal. He has been responsible for organising over 1,600 school expeditions around the world.

Mike is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a published author, and has written articles for international newspapers including the Sunday Times and South China Morning Post. He has appeared in a number of television adventure programmes and has spoken frequently on radio.

This event coincided with the final briefing for students and parents involved in this summer’s expedition to Nepal. Over 50 students are scheduled to fly out to Kathmandu in July mainly for trekking in the Himalayas, specifically the Annapurna Circuit. The school will also be living and working alongside the Nepalese, about whom Mike spoke so affectionately in his talk.

 

The story of Everest 1996 is told in Mike’s excellent book The Storms.  The school has a number of copies of these for sale at £10.00 each. From each book sold, £5 will go to the charity which is supported by the Expedition Fund. Please visit or contact the school’s Reception if you would like to purchase a copy: reception@cranbrook.kent.sch.uk