Chasing Pumori - Roger Speare - Meeting 5th January

by Brian Richards

Roger, after developing a love of the great outdoors in his youth, eventually returned to the hills in his fifties. He ventured forth, finally heading for Nepal and the Himalayas.

For potential fellow hikers and climbers his advice was that, for your first endeavour, join an established trekking organisation but ensure that it had a serious commitment to benefiting the local Nepalese and undertakes an active role in protecting the mountain environment. The rapid development of tourism in the mountains had often been accompanied by exploitation of both. With experience why not organise your own trek, but make sure one member has considerable experience of the region to be tackled.

Roger described his various trips to the area north of Luklor and towards Everest. He emphasised the essential support from the unfailingly cheerful porters and cooks. The early morning tea produced for a sleeping-bagged recipient, the cooked breakfast, tents collapsed, packed and carried at great speed passed the ambling foreigners, the setting up of a mid-way, mid-day food halt and then storming on again so that the tents were erect and sustenance was ready for evening consumption. The diet was not exactly "fish & chips" but thought had been given to European palettes.

A pause for thought. "Ambling" at 5000m+ is perhaps a euphemism for gasping, grunting and sweating with the possibility of terminal expiration.

The goal of Pumori was thwarted by heavy snowfall and despite the presence in the party of Simon Yates, it was decided to divert attention to lower peaks. (A recommended read " Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson for the exploits of Simon Yates). After problems over the years with pulmonary oedema in the Himalayas, portable pressure chambers are included in the first aid. But, remember to bring the pressure release key to let a volunteer/ patient out. I suppose a knife through the canvas is equivalent to an instantaneous 4000m descent. Can anyone hear me?

"Things may, or most probably will, go pear-shaped" was a recurring expression. The vagaries of weather, disappearing paths, and doubts on the precise location of the target peak should be absorbed with a relaxed and philosophical mind set: simply enjoy the magnificent scenery, the company of delightfully cheerful Nepalese and return with good photographs, and good memories.

An interesting evening, thanks to our speaker.


Roger's trip to Pumori was in support of the Emmaus Charity. This charity was started by Abbe Pierre in 1945 for the destitute of Paris. It now has 400 self-funding and self supported centres worldwide. These provide shelter and help develop self-belief, skills and confidence for some of the less fortunate within our society.

On behalf of Roger and the Emmaus Charity, we are asked to thank all members present on the night for their generous donations, raising the superb amount of £59.36.