Connect with us

Phuket

Phuket’s Ironman to climb Mont Blanc – for local charity

Published

 on 

Phuket’s Ironman to climb Mont Blanc – for local charity | Thaiger

PHUKET: Les Bird’s teeth are clenched, muscles taut and body drenched in sweat as he sprints the last leg of his training hike to the summit of Nakkerd Hill in Chalong.

As he heaves off his 40 kilogram bag and glances at his watch, Les scolds himself for finishing his training hike in under an hour.

“I need to slow down; I’m going to buy ankle weights today. That will stop me running,” the 59 year-old Phuket resident says.

In the thirty degree heat atop one of Phuket’s highest peaks, Les shivers. He knows he has a monolithic challenge ahead: a climb 14 times the height of the 350-meter Nakkerd Hill – and just a few degrees colder.

A treacherous climb

Mont Blanc, or the ‘White Mountain’, lies astride the French and Italian borders and is one of the world’s deadliest climbs.

Of 20,000 climbers, at least a dozen die trying to reach the 4,810-meter (15,781 foot) summit every year.

Both Italian and French rescue teams deal with up to 800 emergency calls a day in the summer period between June and August.

Les, however, with only three years’ climbing experience gained 40 years ago in his native England, says he will be well prepared for the climb.

He will be climbing in a two-man team with fellow Brit Harry Taylor. A former Special Air Service

(SAS) soldier, Taylor was the first man to traverse the Pinnacles, on the Northeast Ridge of Mount Everest, in 1988.

Les will arrive in the Alpine resort of Chamonix Valley a month prior to the July 4 climb.

To allow their bodies to acclimatize, it will take the duo eight days to reach the summit.

Over the first three days, the pair will make ascents to 1,500, 2,000 and 3,500 meters, descending back down the mountain after each climb. On day four, they intend to climb 4,000 meters, camp for the night, and again descend to the Chamonix Valley.

On the sixth day, they plan to reach the 4,810 meter summit, plant the Thai national flag at the top, and then make the precipitous descent the next day.

Phuket Support

As Les stoops into a dilapidated classroom in Phuket Town, 40 little faces look skyward, mouths agape. At six feet four inches he must look like a giant to the students under the care of the Child Watch Phuket Foundation.

The classroom is a stone’s throw from Phuket Provincial Prison, where most of these children’s parents are being detained.

Through his Mont Blanc challenge, Les hopes to raise one million baht for impoverished, orphaned and abused children cared for by the foundation.

The Ironman

‘Fanatical’ is how Les describes his Alpine training regime.

On Mondays he opts for a spot of ocean swimming: four kilometers from Bang Tao Beach

to Koh Waeo Island. A safety boat tails him to help avoid long tail fishing boats.

Three times a week, he cycles 125 kilometers wearing a weight belt. He endures three hour

runs and day-long hikes up Nakkerd Hill. He is a man who takes pleasure in pain.

Les has competed in seven Ironman competitions around the world over the past 10 years.

But even superfit Les knows his Alpine climb demands a different style of training. The deleterious effects on his body due to altitude sickness are also a concern.

“A person can be a world class athlete at sea level but become a vegetable at 4,000 meters,” he says.

Les is determined his fitness will see him reach the top of Mont Blanc. If he succeeds, he plans to summit Everest. If anyone on Phuket can do it, bank on him being that man.

Help Les Bird reach 1 million baht

To donate click here.

For a more comprehensive version of this story, see the current issue of the Phuket Gazette newspaper – in stores now.

— Fraser Morton

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

World9 hours ago

Thai gangs traffic Kenyans to Myanmar scam factories

South10 hours ago

Deep South emergency decree extended 3 months

Thailand10 hours ago

Why Is Thailand So Cheap?

Sponsored2 days ago

Where you can get cannabis in Bangkok

Expats11 hours ago

Phuket’s 5 best golf courses

Crime11 hours ago

Inmate who escaped Khon Kaen hospital back in custody

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

Masks recommended in crowds amid Covid increase

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Crime13 hours ago

Squabbling beach vendor gives rival a single bullet warning

Tourism14 hours ago

Russian invasion takes Thailand’s tourism forces by surprise

Road deaths14 hours ago

Late night drinking hopes dashed by Alcohol Control Committee

Thailand15 hours ago

Why Pattaya? Is Pattaya worth visiting in 2023?

Transport15 hours ago

Thai Airways appoint new CEO

Crime16 hours ago

Private jet in ‘Tuhao’ case still flying free

Thailand1 day ago

Thailand News Today | FIFA threatens to pull plug on World Cup broadcast rights in Thailand

Press Room1 day ago

Iconic chef “Alain DUCASSE” returns to Bangkok for 3rd anniversary celebrations of Blue by Alain Ducasse

Koh Samui1 day ago

VIDEO: Naked Russian man walks around with erection in Koh Samui

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending