CLIFTON COFFEE GOES UP MOUNT EVEREST
I wanted to deviate from the usual news a little to bring to the fore something that really got me thinking this weekend. Something that I think is well worth sharing so bare with me…
Us roasters, myself included and indeed many people within the coffee industry can often get caught up in thinking that its ‘all about the coffee’. That nothing else matters other than the details & intricacies of the particular roast curve, brew method or flavour profile. We’re definitely guilty of it on many occasion and I’m sure we’ve all met the barista who’s taking life just that little bit too seriously.
But often its the conversations with non-industry folk that remind us of the context in which coffee sits for most people. For many, its not about the bean itself, the roast or the extraction percentage – its about how a good cup of coffee in their day changes the tempo, resets their mood or provides a much needed few minutes of self indulgence and a break from their surroundings.
You can imagine how appreciative you might be then of a great cup of coffee when you’re battling the elements at the summit of Mt. Everest… Which is exactly where our coffee found its way to recently in the hands of a dear friend of ours, Extreme Environment Athlete & legend Richard Parks.
For those that don’t know about Richard’s story, (from Welsh International rugby player to world record breaking extreme athlete) I urge you to read his book – ‘Beyond the Horizon’. It’s both epic, humbling and inspiring in equal proportions. He is quite simply a truly unique human being.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Rich this W/E for the first time since his return from his latest challenge on Everest and I was blown away yet again but what some people are prepared and capable of putting themselves through… and again, in Richard’s case it was all for the greater good of others.
His first world record, the 737 Challenge involved him climbing the highest mountain on each of the world’s 7 continents, as well as reaching both the north & the south pole and all within 7 months – making him the first person in history to do so in the same calendar year. If that wasn’t enough, he did so in an effort to raise £1m for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
His second record in 2014 was the British Antarctica Speed Record which made him the fastest ever Brit to ski solo to the South Pole – and the only ever Welshman to do so.
But his most recent challenge – Project Everest Cynllun was one of the most incredible stories of human endeavour that I’ve ever encountered; to scale Mt. Everest (his 2rd Everest Summit) without supplementary Oxygen whilst taking blood & muscular biopsies from himself to test the effects of altitude and depleted oxygen on the mind & body in relation to better understanding dementia and the diseases which cause it.
The ground breaking data that Richard would collect would potentially re-define how & what we think & understand about this deadly condition that now effects almost 47 million people* worldwide. (http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org).
To climb Mount Everest is an incredible feat in itself of course, something that only around 5000 people in history have achieved. To climb it without supplementary oxygen however is just plain bonkers and something that less than 5% of those 5000 have actually succeeded in doing & lived to tell the tale.
So you can imagine my delight when listening to Richard describe the conditions & challenges he faced on the mountain at just how important to him his cup of coffee was! Clifton Coffee Roasters were thrilled & honoured to send Richard on his way armed with the awesome Cafflano Klassic & freshly roasted coffee from our first E1 Project Partner – Finca Bella Vista. I don’t think he’d mind me saying that he’s partial to the odd Starbucks, but I’m delighted to say that Rich is now well & truly converted to specialty!
To me, in the context of what Richard was facing up there on the mountain whilst drawing blood from himself and cutting muscle tissue samples out of his own leg, a cup of coffee would be way down on the list of priorities! But to Richard, as he’ll tell you, when you find yourself in environments such as Mt. Everest or the Poles, the physical challenges are obviously great but success or failure is as much a mental & psychological challenge as it is physical. His cup of coffee was every bit as important to him up there on the mountain as it is to you and I in our own daily grinds (no pun intended) but the way in which we both consider that cup of coffee has different meaning that’s relative to our surroundings.
Sadly, Richard never actually made the summit of Everest this time round. A random blood test somewhere near the summit revealed a dangerous anomaly in his blood which dictated the huge call to abort the summit attempt and return to lower altitude.
Yet the objective of the challenge, to capture ground breaking scientific data that would help scientists to better understand the mechanisms that underpin dementia was a complete success and something that many thousands of people may well benefit from in the future. To sum Richard up in a few short words is very hard. ‘Parksy’ as he’s lovingly known is one of life’s true enthusiasts. A philanthropist, intelligent and quite astonishing human being who now gets just as excited about his morning cup of coffee as we do.
Welcome home Richard. Yet again, you’ve humbled us all & we’re thrilled to have you back in one piece.
Head of Coffee & Business Development