One of our financial advisers raised money for Glasgow’s Children’s Hospital Charity by climbing Mont Blanc. Here is Jim’s story of what happened.
Thursday the 6th of September, 18 individuals gathered at Edinburgh airport bound for a flight to Geneva Switzerland. Little did we know we would return 5 days later as a group of friends bound together for life by an experience which none of us will ever forget.
We had all signed up for the Tour du Mont Blanc Trek to raise funds for the fabulous Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity. This was a 4 day trek in the Alps starting in France moving through to Switzerland before finally finishing in northern Italy.
After 9 months of training in the gym and climbing hills in Scotland, I felt ready for this challenge. However, my body had never experienced 4 days of trekking without a break. I was a little nervous that my knees or historic back problems would let me down.
We arrived in Geneva to a downpour which seemed to follow us on our bus journey to Chamonix, where we spent our first night praying the rain would stop. The following morning we awoke to a very grey and miserable sight, with low clouds covering the mountains. This was our worst scenario especially as our guides told us it hadn’t rained for weeks.
However, as we made our way to the starting point in Montroc the rain went off leaving behind low clouds which hampered our climb for the most of the first morning. Then, as if by magic the sun gained in strength, and the clouds started to part, leaving us all in awe at the wonders of the mountains surrounding us. We climbed hard the first morning going higher than Ben Nevis by lunchtime, during the afternoon we crossed back into Switzerland, and the countryside changed into traditional Swiss mountain pastureland with the sound of cowbells ringing for miles. We arrived late afternoon in the village of Trient.
We left Trient early next morning to glorious sunshine, which would bless us every day for the remainder of our trek. We followed a beautiful route past Bovine, a high alpine pasture for grazing cattle. There were stunning views all across the Rhone valley and to the snowy peaks in the distance including the famous Grand Combin. In the afternoon we arrived in the pretty lakeside alpine resort of Champex to our delight our guides had arranged ice cold beers which we drank sitting beside the lake, some of the group were brave enough to have a quick dip in the icy water.
The following morning saw another early start leaving Champex to La Fouly. This was a slightly easier day in terms of climbing ascending 730 metres. Our trek took us 16 miles through Swiss pastures, woodlands and chocolate box villages until we reached the spectacular location of La Fouly surrounded by snow covered mountains.
The final day saw 18 pairs of weary legs get ready to take on an ascent of 1100m and a 15 mile trek from La Fouly to Courmayeur. This was the highest part of our trek which took us across the Grand Col Ferret and into Italy. A tough and very emotional climb as the summit brought home to everyone why they were here. Each person had a story to tell…….My story started in May 2017 when my youngest granddaughter Isla was born with a congenital heart defect which meant she had to undergo open heart surgery twice in the first year of her life. Although she will attend the heart clinic for the rest of her life, and probably require further surgery when she’s older; little Isla now enjoys a fairly normal, happy lifestyle thanks to the skill and care of the surgeon, doctors and nursing staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow.
Like many others taking part in the trek, I felt I had to give something back to the NHS in appreciation for what they have done and continue to do. Unlike some of the others, my story had a fairly happy ending. During our time together I got to hear everyone’s story; many of them were heart-breaking with parents losing children and others who knew they had no happy ending to their tale. These were truly inspirational people finding the strength and courage to do fantastic things in impossible situations. No parent should ever have to watch their child die.
From a broken arm to end of life care, from simple play activities to innovative medical equipment and groundbreaking paediatric research,168,000 babies, children and young people from all around the country are treated at the hospital every year. Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity sits firmly at the heart of the hospital, raising money to ensure that our young patients and their families receive the best possible care.
My Just Giving page is still open, if you have a few moments, please have a look.