Paul explains: “I’d done a walk in Nepal many years ago, then I got talking to some of my colleagues and we decided we would make the trip. Initially there were five of us and, once we started chatting, we decided ‘why not raise some cash while we’re at it?’
“I did some research and it seemed many of the local charities were already well supported through the Royal Court so I was looking for somewhere that really needed our help.
“As soon as we came across the Alia Centre, run by Bahrain Society for Children with Behavioural and Communication Difficulties, and went and saw the work they are doing there, this was the obvious choice somewhere we knew we could really make a difference”
News of the trip was featured in a local paper and very quickly the group of five grew to 15, all of them determined to make the trek and raise cash for the kids.
“Initially about 40 people got in touch,” said Paul. “Of these there were a group who were really serious and, of our group, everyone made it to the top.”
The top being the summit of Poon Hill, a 3,210-metre peak (that’s almost four times the height of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa) in the Annapurna region.
The walkers ranged in age from 20 to around 65 and came from Bahrain, the UK, Australia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sweden.
They bore their own costs so all the money raised would go to the charity and everyone had to raise some extra cash as well. The group got major sponsorship from commercial organisations including the Behzad Group, APM Terminals/MSCEB and Tony Connor at JASF and between them the walkers themselves raised BD10,000.
Some trained, some didn’t but all managed to cope with treking up to 10 hours a day covering more than 20km in mountainous terrain.
They experienced bright sunshine, snow and ice and tackled altitude at which the oxygen level fell to 68 per cent of that at sea level.
And there was hardly a cross word. Paul said: “Everybody had their own personal challenge to face, their own reasons for wanting to take part, some thought they wouldn’t make it.
“Yes there was a little bit of complaining, it’s the kind of ‘what have you brought us to?’ scenario but when we all stood at the top, everyone said it was worth it. And it was great to have two Bahraini ladies among our party including Dr Sawsan Karimi, who is a doctor at the Alia Centre. We think this is the highest point ever reached by a Bahraini national so that’s quite an achievement.”
From a bunch of random individuals, the experience has brought the group together as a team. Since they’ve been back they’ve been meeting up regularly to talk about their adventure and plan future challenges starting with another mountaineering feat in Morocco some time in October.
There are also plans for a two- week cycle ride across Vietnam next January or February.
Paul said: “It will take quite a bit of organisation and maybe not everyone who came to Nepal will be able to take part but I’m sure there will be a good number and we will, once again, be raising money for the centre.”
He’s also happy to hear from anyone else who would like to join in with future expeditions. Email him on firstname.lastname@example.org