ELLIS Stewart has reached Mount Everest’s ‘base camp’ – the place where budding climbers prepare to make a bid for the mountain’s summit.
The dad-of-three hopes to become the first person from Hartlepool to climb the highest mountain in the world.
It is his second attempt at the challenge after his hopes were dashed last year just days before he was due to start his final ascent when an avalanche struck, claiming the lives of 16 Sherpa guides.
Ellis, 41, wrote on his Everest Dream website that he was in the base camp - and would start the climb today or some time soon after.
Ellis wrote: “Day 15 - Stunning day at Base Camp
“So having been battered by severe winds through the night base camp this morning is a scene of sheer stunning beauty.
“Pictures do not do justice to how simply spellbinding the views are.
“Today me and the rest of my team are practicing on a ladder in crampons, learning the skills we will need to know for safe passage up and down the mountain.
“I can’t wait to get stuck in to be honest.”
He added: “This trip now moves from the trekking phase to the serious climbing phase.
“Everest is looking ready for business and we almost are too. Onwards and upwards.”
The day before that, on Saturday, April 18, he said: “Day 14 - Relaxing day at Base Camp.
“It was a tough walk in yesterday. The last two hours into camp were in a complete white-out with driving snow.
“In fact base camp is covered in the stuff.
“Today is the first anniversary to the 16 Sherpa souls who lost their lives up in the icefall last year.
“Out of respect no one is moving anywhere today. So it’s kick back time, sort out your living space in your tent so it’s as comfortable as can be for the next five weeks or so and sort out kit so it’s ready to go.
“This thing now feels very real.”
Generous supporters have raised around £2,500 towards the cost of the trip after his wife Tamara, 35, set up a page on the GoFundMe website.
Ellis, of the Bishop Cuthbert estate, left his family, including son Aaron, 17, daughters Lara, seven, and five-year-old Isla, on April 2.