Jamie Ironmonger, 40
Police officer Jamie Ironmonger is climbing Everest this April to raise awareness of mental health problems, especially for emergency services workers, and funds for the charity Mind. He tells Trail how he was inspired to take on the world’s highest challenge…
Q: When, and why, did you decide to climb Everest?
A: I was a regular police officer for over 15 years, on frontline response dealing with anything and everything. I loved it, I used to say I’d do the job for free. But the work involved very traumatic incidences and eventually everything began to take its toll. I became stressed, then depressed and also experienced PTSD. Then, after a friend and colleague committed suicide and another disclosed they had also considered taking their life, I knew I had to get out. Not long before I left Hampshire Police a colleague asked if I’d be interested to join a Kilimanjaro charity climb and I just thought ‘why not?’. I wasn’t much of a hillwalker up to then but for training I completed the national Three Peaks Challenge and quickly I realised the power of the mountains as a healer. Each year since then I have done a mountain expedition, including the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, in the Himalaya, the Alps – the rest, as they say, is history!
Q: How have the mountains helped you?
A: I think of being in the hills as like hitting Control-Alt-Delete on your computer; it just allows me to deal with my own mental health problems, reset my mind and start afresh. Put simply, mountains have changed my life. They are my passion now, whereas before it was my work. Whether it’s my local hills or the mountains of Nepal, climbing is now a reason to live for.
Q: Why Everest?
A: I was invited to join an Everest expedition by mountaineer Rolfe Oostra. I have to admit climbing Everest had never even been in dreams before then, I didn’t consider my mountain CV worthy enough. After some thought though, I realised this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I couldn’t refuse. It’s the perfect chance to raise awareness for mental health issues and show people if I can go from rock bottom to the summit of the highest mountain in the world, you can too.
Q: How are you preparing for Everest?
A: I’ve recently come back from trips to the Pyrenees and the Manaslu Circuit in Nepal for altitude training. I’ve also been out on my mountain bike a lot and hitting the gym to boost my cardio. So, I’m feeling good but there’s definitely some nervous excitement – I’m just trying to do everything I can without getting injured before I fly to Kathmandu on April 7!
Q: Why have you decided to fundraise for Mind?
A: Mind helps people across the UK with mental health issues but the charity also recognises the problems faced by those in the emergency services, such as increased PTSD and suicide risk. I then found out Mind have a dedicated support programme for emergency service workers, which is brilliant. I hadn’t heard of anything like this before and thought if I haven’t, how many others will be unaware? So, I’m hoping my expedition will help spread the word. I hope to exceed my fundraising goal of £10,000 – ultimately, it’s all about trying to help as many people as I can.
Q: Any plans for life after Everest?
A: I’ll keep on climbing. Assuming this expedition goes successfully, there is a chance of me leading my very own trek to Everest Base Camp, specifically for those in the emergency services, in 2020 with 360-Expeditions. That would be incredible!
Very best of luck to you, Jamie!
You can find out more about Jamie’s expedition and donate to his cause via the link below…