Auction raises charity funds ahead of mountaineer’s final climb
- Credit: James Bass
Final preparations are being made by a 72-year-old man determined to climb the Argentinian mountain which has defeated him four times in the past 12 years.
Despite not yet reaching the summit, his exploits have succeeded in raising £30,000 for Norfolk charities, and Tim Hirst, from Mundham near Loddon, is determined to make one last effort to conquer the 22,837ft peak of Aconcagua in the Andes.
This week, he has been running an online auction of items which have been donated to raise money for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, for which he is a trustee, and the charity which will benefit from the latest climb.
Among the items up for grabs are an 80th anniversary Norwich City football shirt, an iPad, store vouchers, clothing, a cottage holiday and books donated by Ranulph Fiennes.
Mr Hirst retired earlier this year from his job as a farm business manager at the Bressingham office of grain-marketing co-operative Openfield.
His climbing defeats have only served to fuel his desire to succeed in his fifth and final attempt, and he will set off in two weeks' time.
He said: 'I just want to beat this mountain. It is my passion – and now my obsession.
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'I hate the fact that it has got the better of me. I spent 12 years trying to beat it, and I want one final go at it.'
The four-week expedition will involve acclimatising climbs to adjust to the conditions, before the final push to the summit, via three camps en route. He will spend Christmas Day at base camp, and expects to make his first summit attempt on January 4.
To give himself an extra edge this year, he has elected to spend extra time doing training climbs from the base camp to acclimatise, and he climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa last year, as well as trekking in the Alps.
Although the physical demands of reaching the top of one of the Seven Summits are intense, Mr Hirst said the psychological demands are just as draining.
'My best attempt was only 800ft from the summit,' he said. 'It might not sound much but at that altitude its another three hours.
'At that altitude you have only got 50pc of the oxygen in your blood compared to back here.
'Aconcagua does have a high death rate, but it's because of people under-estimating the mountain, or often it is to do with people's indiscipline.'
Despite this, he is optimistic that this could well be his year to succeed.
'You have got to have a challenge in life, and you have got to have something to live for,' he said. 'If I fail, my ego gets deflated again, but that will be offset by all the money raised for people who are less fortunate. That is very important to me.'
The online auction can be accessed at https://ratshole.wordpress.com/ and will close today at 5pm. All bids should be emailed to Mr Hirst at email@example.com
People can also donate via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/acon5again
Are you taking part in a unique challenge? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01502 712060 to speak to a reporter.