Gt Barton/Thurston: Vet set for climb near disaster area

Vet Heather Bentley will be among the first people to conquer an unchartered peak in Nepal.

Vet Heather Bentley will be among the first people to conquer an unchartered peak in Nepal. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A vet who is set to become one of the first people to conquer a peak in Nepal has said she is committed to the challenge despite the recent disaster in which at least 39 people have died.

Heather Bentley, 53, from Great Barton, will be among a group of six who are embarking on a 12-day trek up previously unscaled Nar Phu, which is close to the area where climbers have recently died in storms.

But while admitting she is feeling “scared” about the challenge next month – in aid of a cancer support centre in Cambridge – she also said it will be a “phenomenal experience”.

Mrs Bentley, who works at Thurston Veterinary Centre, said: “I’m still committed to it definitely. It’s such an amazing opportunity to go somewhere no one in the world has been before.”

She said the disaster – in the Annapurna mountain range – had really brought home to her “just how dangerous it is”.

“Because it’s an unclimbed peak in an unexplored area, I don’t know what the chances are of us ever being rescued if something did happen to us.”

She explained the Government in Nepal has just started to release permits for climbers to tackle Nar Phu, which runs off the Nar Phu valley and is about 5,921 metres high.

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Mrs Bentley is a relatively experienced mountaineer, having tackled her first major climb – Kilimanjaro – in 2007 to raise money for Diabetes UK. Her latest challenge will be supporting Maggie’s as she has had friends who have used the facilities there and her mother currently has cancer.

“I’m trying to get physically very fit, but also you cannot really train for the altitude. How your body responds to high altitude really varies from person to person and also mentally it’s a huge challenge.”

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