Tuesday, 06 December 2016
The Boys’ Division welcomed Matt Dickinson to talk to pupils in Years 8 and 9 about his experiences of climbing the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. Matt is an author of both fiction and non-fiction based on his mountaineering experiences. He has also made documentaries for National Geographic Television, Discovery Channel and the BBC.
Matt’s talk took the boys on a journey to the summit of Mount Everest. He began by explaining that he took the first step on the path to becoming a climber and explorer in his school library, when he picked up a book about mountaineering. He talked briefly about the positive effects of reading, and how books can inspire readers and change the course of someone’s life.
Moving on to talk about Everest, Matt spoke about his personal experience of frostbite. He also discussed the problems of altitude sickness, and the fact that a rescue helicopter off the mountain costs £10,000 in cash. These anecdotes really helped the boys to understand the real dangers and challenges of adventuring in “the most dangerous place in the world”.
He recalled some statistics: that there is a 4% chance of death on Everest, but on the second highest mountain in the world this goes up to 29%. Asking the boys who would join him on a trip up each mountain, many raised their hands for Everest, but there were far fewer willing to accept the higher risk.
He also brought up some interesting topics for discussion with the audience, including the fact that very young people are now attempting to reach the summit. A thirteen year old has completed the climb, and an eleven year old wants to do so before his twelfth birthday. The boys had some really interesting thoughts on the subject.
In addition, Matt discussed the amazing and inspirational people he has met while climbing Everest, who value experiences rather than material things.
He showed the boys a number of videos he took documenting his ascent of the mountain earlier in 2016. One of these showed footage from the summit, including one of his fellow climbers reaching the summit for the first time on his third attempt. He spoke of the inspirational resilience of the climber he filmed and said, “Sometimes you don’t achieve your dream the first time, but if you have a dream and you have a plan, you can always try again. The mountain is not going to go anywhere. You can try again and succeed.”
Throughout the talk, Matt mentioned several of his books that might interest the boys, all of which are influenced by his experiences. He talked about his novel The Everest Files, a mystery based on the dark side of human nature, which he witnessed first-hand during his time climbing Everest. He discussed to The Death Zone:his factual account of his summit of Everest via the treacherous North Face during the most devastating killer storm ever to hit the mountain. He also mentioned his most recent book Lie Kill Walk Away, an edgy and political novel which is based on his interest in bioweapons.
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