THE death of his father from lung cancer started Phil Purdy on an extraordinary personal journey which has pushed him to the limits of his endurance and helped him to raise more than £200,000 for research into the disease.
The father-of-four from Smith House Lane, Lightcliffe, is used to tackling difficult feats to raise money for charity. But his ascent to the 8,850m summit of Mount Everest presented him with his toughest mental and physical challenge.
Phil, who works for Yorkshire Water in Leeds, spent months preparing for the climb and nine gruelling weeks on the mountain. With just weeks to go, his climbing partner Jeff Cooke had to pull out and Phil’s ascent of the mountain coincided with treacherous conditions which claimed the lives of nine climbers and caused many others to turn back.
“It has been the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have done. When we left camp four we passed four dead climbers - a very vivid reminder of how precious life is.”
Phil, a keen walker and fell-runner, praised his wife, Katherine, and four children - Thomas, Robert, Andrew and Madeleine - for their support.
In 2009 Phil and Jeff raised £100,000 for Cancer Research UK when they climbed Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world. It was on that trip that the idea of tackling Everest was born.
On the climb he had to cross 200m deep crevasses in the Khumbu icefall, negotiate rock falls due to melting snow, cope with extreme temperatures and intense fatigue. “I had prepared as well as I possibly could but nothing can really prepare you for the exhaustion you feel,” said Phil who lost a lot of weight.
Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “The odds were stacked against Phil yet with determination, resilience, tenacity and courage, Phil triumphed over all that the mountain and nature could throw at him.”
Phil’s Everest expedition has so far raised £120,000. To help him reach his target of £135,000 log onto www.everestchallenge2012.co.uk