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Gran set to peak in mountain climb

Wednesday, 6th September, 2017 6:07pm

A Cork grandmother is out to prove she's not over the hill - by doing just that - in an ambitious mountain climb next month.

Veronica Brennan, 62, from Cobh will brave the elements in October when she climbs the former Urkema Peak which forms part of the Himalayas in Nepal. The mountain, now renamed Baden-Powell Scout Peak, rises to 5,825 metres, higher than any mountain in Europe, and is situated 100 miles from Mount Everest near the Chinese border.

Veronica, who has three grandchildren, has experience in mountain climbing having previously climbed Machu Picchu and the Base Camp at Everest. She is taking on the challenge to raise funds for her son John who is Deputy Camp Chief in Fota Scout Centre.

The Centre hosts scouts from around Ireland and from Europe on their trips and has attracted scouts from as far as Japan.

It is hoped that the money raised from Veronica’s trip will help fund a new development plan for the centre including a kitchen for resting scouts. The centre, which receives no direct funding, hopes to accommodate another 30 scouts with its planned developments.

Veronica is hopeful that her efforts will bear fruit in helping her son expand the centre.

“The centre is tremendously popular. We are trying to promote offsite programmes with the new development programmes and accommodate the increasing numbers which are being attracted to the centre.”

Veronica’s husband John died almost three years ago and had started many scouting initiatives before his passing. For her, driving scouting development is something she wants to continue for her late husband’s sake as much as for herself and her family.

“I’ve been involved with the scouts all my life, as have many of my family,” she said.

“Doing this feels right in terms of continuing what John has started before he passed. It’s what he would have wanted. And for myself even climbing the mountain, it gives me a sense that he’s with me while I’m doing it.”

Being one of the oldest members of the group travelling to Nepal, is she fearful about the conditions facing her?

“No! I’m more excited than anything. And anyway, it’s important to do something that scares you!” she said.

“There’s 18 of us going - three women - and at 62 I’m probably one of the oldest. Most are in their 40s or 50s. The last two or three days will be quite technical as it’s a glacier, it can get very, very cold, maybe down to minus 18 degrees.”

“We’ll be staying in tents the last few days as we get closer to the summit and before that in hostels called teahouses. We’ll also have Sherpas (highly experienced regional mountaineers) while we’re there and we have our own medic, so we don’t really have anything to worry about.”

In addition to her previous climbing experience, Veronica is also very involved with the Cobh Hillwalking Club. She does a lot of walking in her job in CUH, also putting money from her wages into funding the scout centre project.

For Veronica’s three grandchildren, aged eight, six and two, her challenge seems little more than an exciting adventure.

“They think it’s great that granny will be going out in the snow! They’re looking at me getting my kit ready and wondering why the hell I need two head torches!”

To donate to the Fota Scout Centre development GoFundMe page go to gofundme.com/fota-scout-centre-development.

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