Plymouth Postman Sets Sights On World’s 7 Mountain Challenges
Ed Buckingham is rightly proud of his winter boots – all £800 of them.
The price tag would match something to die for from London fashion week. But these are meant to keep him alive.
They were made for walking: they took him to the top of Everest.
On the way up those boots stepped over the remains of a man who had died near the summit years ago.
On the way down they took him past the corpse of a climber he’d seen alive days earlier.
He scaled the highest point in the world in 2011, a step along the way to his goal of climbing the greatest mountains on all seven continents.
If all goes to plan, Ed will complete the list in January by scaling Mount Vinson, Antarctica.
Ed has been feted as the first Cornishman to climb Everest, which helped land him the Cornish Gorseth Exceptional Endeavour award in September this year.
His reckons his greatest achievement, though, is to have come back in one piece.
“People look surprised when I tell them the boots cost £800,” he says. “But I’ve still got ten toes.
“My gloves cost £100 – but I’ve still got two hands.”
Those are sobering comments from a man who does not go in for emotion, not even when on top of the world.
He says he did not celebrate when he reached the summit of Everest because he knew the job was only half done.
“I was so focused because I knew that most accidents happen on the way down,” he says.
And while the thought of losing a toe or a finger or a foot or a hand to frostbite is enough to send a shiver down the spine, Ed is not talking about a mishap that would leave him maimed. He is talking about something that might cost him his life, as his chilling experience on Everest illustrates.
About 3,500 people have reached the summit and more than 200 have died on the mountain. Conditions are so dangerous that if you die you will probably stay there. Other climbers would be risking their lives by bringing a body down.
Ed’s achievements are remarkable on two further scores: he is not a wealthy man and he does not have a long list of sponsors.
He finances his climbs on his modest wage as a Royal Mail lorry driver based in Plymstock.
Climbing Everest cost him £20,000 and the Antarctica trip will set him back about £30,000. His total expenditure on climbing the seven peaks will be about £80,000, he says.
“I have made a lot of sacrifices. I don’t go out for meals, I don’t go out drinking and I’m single. If I did have a partner, I don’t think it would last long.
“I use all my holiday for these trips.”
On top of that he has raised thousands of pounds for charity.