From village of Law to Everest and back

Mungo Ross and his Calton Athletic expedition team on Everest
Mungo Ross and his Calton Athletic expedition team on Everest
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Law mountain guide Mungo Ross has returned safe and sound from leading one of the most unusual – and inspirational – Everest expeditions ever.

As previously reported in the Gazette, Mungo’s fellow mountaineers were eight men in more danger on the streets of Glasgow than they ever were on the slopes of the world’s highest peak from November 10 to 28.

Everest expedition

Everest expedition

They are all members of the city’s Calton Athletic Recovery Group, an organisation set up to help those battling drink and drug addiction.

Having overcome that personal mountain, one of the group, local village dial-a-bus driver John Ferns, wanted to take on not only a real one but the biggest on the planet, Everest.

By chance, while driving in Law, he had met and got chatting to Mungo, a professional instructor with a firm that runs safe trips for tourists to Everest Base Camp.

Mungo takes up the tale, saying: “When I met John over two years ago he introduced himself as a member of the Calton Athletic.

“When I told him I was off to Everest Base Camp with a group the very next day, he asked excitedly ‘do you think we could go there?’ I remember spontaneously replying ‘you can go anywhere you like’, which is exactly what they have just done.

“They have taken themselves on a journey that they have each wanted, chosen, decided to make – so far removed from the lives they were living, being taken down a road of self-destruction by drink and drugs.”

For the two years after that encounter with John, Mungo got to know his team and readied them for the trek ahead with extensive hill-walking expeditions around Scotland.

“This allowed us to get to know and trust one another and come through the expedition safely.”

Most of the cash to mount the trip was raised by group members themselves with help from a Scottish Mountaineering Trust grant.

Despite ardous days of trekking through rough country and battling the effects of altitude, Mungo and the Calton team, with the help of local sherpas, made it to their target destination and back, safe, sound and another step – or several thousand, actually – towards full recovery.

Many of the team members kept diaries during the trip which make highly emotional and inspirational reading, especially the recollection of one who took some of his mum’s ashes to bury on Everest. She would have been one very proud woman.