Former footballer takes on a mountain of a challenge

Keith Wilding displays an AFC Fylde shirt at Everest
Keith Wilding displays an AFC Fylde shirt at Everest

As his beloved AFC Fylde climb the football pyramid on the football pitch, stadium manager Keith Wilding decided to go one better off it.

The former Fylde player pushed himself to the limit when he scaled halfway up Mount Everest – the world’s tallest peak – and he even left a little piece of Coasters’ history up there for good measure.

Former AFC Fylde player Keith Wilding

Former AFC Fylde player Keith Wilding

Keith admitted he thoroughly enjoyed the expedition and the expoedition team of which he was part have already raised more than £2,000 for charity.

“My friend Colin Sutcliffe, who also played for Fylde, asked if I wanted to do Kilimanjaro as something to cross off the bucket list,” said Keith, who lives in Kirkham.

“In the meantime, one of his friends suggested the Everest base camp climb so we agreed to do that instead. There was four of us together in a group of 16.

“We decided to do it for a charity that helped Colin’s granddaughter. She is only four years old and she has a rare condition called PKU, where she can’t assimilate protein.

“We want to raise as much as possible for research to help cure the condition.

“The trip was 19 days in total and we took an AFC Fylde shirt with us, which we got signed by all the people on the trek, and we pinned it up in a teahouse at base camp.

“We flew from Manchester to Doha in Qatar, then on to Kathmandu in Nepal. From there we got on a small plane to a place called Lukla.

“The runway there was built by Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the summit of Everest, and that was some experience!

“It’s the length of a football pitch on the side of a mountain, 3,000 metres above sea level.

“There is very little space to land and you could either hit the mountain at the end of the runway or drop off the edge!

“Once we arrived in Lukla, we didn’t see another vehicle for the rest of the trip. Everything is carried on donkeys and yaks.

“Only 1,200 people have ever reached the top of Everest and around 200 of those died on the way back down, so basecamp was high enough for us!

“It isn’t for the faint hearted, it’s quite a severe test. You couldn’t just turn up and do it.

“We trained in the Lake District every weekend for nine months before we attempted it. It was difficult and two of the team didn’t make it up. I found personally that the training we had done came in handy.

“We finished the trip 5,550 metres above sea level. It was a fantastic experience. I don’t think I could do it again, but I’m really pleased to have it ticked off the list - and I was delighted to leave an AFC Fylde shirt out there.”

Details about donating to the cause promoted by Colin, who lives in Preston, at www.justgiving.com/Colin-Sutcliffe