DOG WARDEN WHO LEADS EXCITING LIFE
BY day Brendan Lee Davies works as a county council dog warden, but his spare time has seen him tackle some of the world’s most challenging and tallest peaks – not least the highest, Everest.
The former Royal Marine is now back home in Hendy, enjoying “putting back on the pounds” after losing weight while scaling Everest in Nepal as part of a fundraising effort.
Brendan lost more than two stone during the expedition, which he did to raise money for the Royal Marines Charity.
The charity helps veterans, cadets and their families, along with families who have lost loved ones in service.
Brendan, 45, is originally from Pontyberem in the Gwendraeth Valley and has always been a keen walker and climber, but Everest, he said, has been the most challenging feat.
Explaining how to got involved in tackling the 29,029ft mountain, he said: “I served with another marine commando named Richard Morgan back in 1994 and years later we bumped into each other and he had set up a firm called 65 Degrees North and it was something I wanted to get onboard with.”
The firm, which is now taking steps to become a registered charity, seeks to help in the rehabilitation of wounded, injured or sick current or ex-servicemen and women by offering the opportunity to participate in challenging adventure.
In 2013, Richard led the HeroesChallengeUK (HCUK), a UK endurance record that set a British first.
Wanting to give something back to the wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, the HCUK team cycled from John O’Groats to Lands End, climbing the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland along the way.
Put simply Richard and those who join his expeditions have not looked back since.
Brendan, who served from 1993 to 1998 in the Royal Marines said: “I had two tours of duty as a marine, Northern Ireland and in the Adriatic Sea.
“Since I came out of the marines 21 years ago, I have had my struggles with mental health and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
“So when I heard about 65 Degrees North, I was asked if I wanted to join one of the expeditions to South America to climb Aconcagua.
“That was January last year and it’s about 1,000 metres lower than Everest and it was tough, more technical than Everest, which at the time I hadn’t even contemplated climbing.”
With money being fundraised by 65 Degrees North during the Aconcagua climb and also six other peaks across the globe - which Brendan did not take part in, attention then turned to scaling Everest.
“What Richie wanted to do was to take a handpicked group of climbers who had been on other expeditions and do Everest.” Setting off on the trip were five members and they spent 40 days at base camp below the imposing mountain to just get used to the high altitude.
Base camp itself sits at 17,600 ft on the south side of Everest.
Brendan said: “Everest is technically not difficult, if you compare it to K2, the world’s second highest mountain.
“That is more tricky but it’s the height of Everest and the lack of oxygen as you ascend up towards the peak that hits you.”
However, before even reaching the higher sections of Everest, every climber must first face the ice wall, which Brendan said was one of the most frightening obstacles he has ever come up against.
“It’s the first thing you come to when leaving base camp and it’s immediately one of the most dangerous parts of the climb.
“You are on ladders and walkways surrounded by these huge iceblocks, some as big as houses, that’s the scale of them.”
Most would think, okay get over the ice wall and then continue with the climb, but that’s not how you climb Everest, as Brendan explained:
“You do several climbs to different camps and heights on the mountain, this is all part of the preparation and you only have a certain window to prepare and also to do the whole climb to the peak because of the weather patterns.”
It was after reaching the summit on the return journey that the ice wall proved to be at its most treacherous for Brendan and fellow climbers.
“I summitted at around 5.30am having started in the middle of the night from camp four, the highest and last camp before the ‘Death Zone’.
“So coming down I knew we were hitting the ice wall in day time, which is not the best because the ice warms up, moves around, these huge blocks are shifting with you roped up on them.”
Turning to reaching the peak, Brendan said it was a fantastic achievement but completely draining on the body.
“You have to be fit and have experience of mountaineering, even so it’s something to experience being that high, on top of the world, without oxygen tanks you can’t do it.
“So while technically it’s not hard there is a lot to think of at that altitude: is your oxygen working, are your crampons on your feet okay?”
Unfurling the Welsh flag at the summit was a poignant moment for Brendan, he had done it, he was on top of the world’s highest mountain, while helping to raise money for the Royal Marines Charity.
Speaking of the fundraising effort, it was back home in Wales that many rallied around at Pontarddulais Rugby Club for a fundraising evening a few months ago, which raised around £5,000 for the charity.
“That was a great achievement,” said Brendan, who was surprised with a call from the club while at Everest base camp to say he had won the club’s Outstanding Achievement of the Year Award.
Brendan Lee Davies proudly unfurling the Welsh flag at the top of Everest.