EXCLUSIVE Moment emotional Iceland boss climbing Everest breaks down in tears while going blind as he reveals how he’s scaling world’s highest peak for his mother
- Iceland boss Richard Walker undertook a mission to climb Mount Everest in May
- Expedition was in memory of his late mother who died from Alzheimer’s in 2021
The boss of Iceland has shared footage from his harrowing climb of Everest – during which he almost went blind – and revealed he decided to scale the world’s highest peak in honour of his mother.
Richard Walker , 42, embarked on the challenge in spring to raise £1million for the Iceland Food Charitable Foundation (IFCF), which is building the world’s first Rare Dementia Support Centre.
The businessman documented the tough conditions he faced in a piece to camera, holding back the tears as he was clearly suffering after losing around 60 per cent of his vision during the descent.
‘As you can tell, Everest has obviously beaten me up, and it is so much harder than I think normal people presume. I got it served to me on a plate!’ he said.
Mr Walker also revealed that his intrepid charity fundraiser for dementia research was in memory of his mother, Lady Walker, who passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2021.
Dramatic pictures of his climb show frost formed on his brow as he battled freezing temperatures to reach the summit
Richard Walker , 42, embarked on the challenge in spring to raise £1million for the Iceland Food Charitable Foundation (IFCF)
Mr Walker had to wipe away tears after his eyes were damaged during the climb
The business leader reportedly suffered a retinal haemorrhage, losing around 60 per cent of his vision
Describing his ordeal during a video, shared with MailOnline, the chairman said that his ascent of Everest was ‘really strong’.
While his team outpaced others to reach the summit, things took a turn for the worst during the descent.
Poor weather and problems with his eyes took a toll, he said, and the group’s plan of when they would get lower down the mountain was derailed.
‘Physically we’re fine, if exhausted. I had something strange happen with my eyes on the south summit down, which meant that I couldn’t really see well on the descent, which gave it an added twist.
‘It was already quite a busy descent, the weather wasn’t great but we are safely at camp four. I got it handed to me.’
Upon reaching the peak of the world’s tallest mountain, Mr Walker said the water in his drinking bottle was frozen solid in temperatures of almost –50°C (–58F) during the coldest May in living memory.
He said as he filmed the video on the way back down that the group had planned to be at camp two, nearer to basecamp, but had to stay higher up at camp four so he could rest his eyes.
During a video, Mr Walker described the challenging descent and said the group waited higher up the mountain so he could rest his eyes
Mr Walker, who previously climbed the North Col of Everest in 2011, revealed that he had undertaken the perilous climb to its summit as a tribute to his late mother
His eyesight had started to deteriorate due to a retinal haemorrhage, losing around 60 per cent of his vision, The Grocer reports.
Despite suffering with his eyes during the emotional video however, he also revealed the highs the group experienced during the incredible expedition.
READ MORE: Iceland boss admits he underestimated physical and mental scale of Everest challenge
He described the scenery from the summit of Everest as ‘stunning’, and thanked his dedicated team for helping to get him there.
‘Being on the summit was obviously surreal, a real achievement, but not really my achievement,’ he said.
He then paid tribute to his team, including his guide for making ‘every right call, every step of the way’.
He also thanked a sherpa, who was undertaking his 21st summit of Everest and ‘made sure we were well looked after’.
And he thanked another sherpa who supported him on the expedition and said ‘they are the real heroes’.
Mr Walker, who previously climbed the North Col of Everest in 2011, revealed that he had undertaken the perilous climb to its summit as a tribute to his late mother.
‘I did this in memory of mum. It was very much unfinished business from 13 years ago, it was something I always knew I had to come back and do.’
Richard Walker posted on Instagram: ‘After months of training, an exhilarating and challenging journey and plenty of support along the way we have reached the summit of Mount Everest’
Upon reaching the peak of the world’s tallest mountain, Mr Walker said the water in his drinking bottle was frozen solid in temperatures of almost –50°C (–58F) during the coldest May in living memory
Mr Walker, who has now raised over £510,000 on JustGiving, thanked Iceland customers for their support and generosity, and said donations would be match-funded and go towards a dementia research centre.
‘The support I’ve received has been absolutely phenomenal. Everyone willing me on and wanting me to do this and believing in me, especially at times when I have doubted myself.’
He added that the generosity of customers to Iceland’s charitable drive means the company would clear £1million in fundraising.
He paid tribute to those taking part in fundraising, saying ‘you’re climbing your own Everest’.
Richard Walker, 42, executive chairman of Iceland, pictured with the Princess of Wales, climbed Mount Everest as part of a challenge for the company’s charity endeavours
Mr Walker is the son of Iceland founder Sir Malcolm Walker, and has received an OBE for his services to business and the environment as the chairman of Surfer’s Against Sewage.
His mother, the late Lady Walker, was diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s in 2011 and sadly passed away in 2021.
Since then, he has worked with Professor Nick Fox and learnt of his vision to build a centre that they say will exemplify how best to support people living with rare dementia.
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