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A journey from never walking again to Everest Base Camp.

November 29, 2023 3 min read

A journey from never walking again to Everest Base Camp.

As you can probably imagine, here at ioMerino, we get asked to support all sorts of people and adventures. And as much as we'd like to say 'yes' to all of them, we're not a global behemoth like Nike and we simply can't.

But when David from The Long Run reached out and let us know what he was up to, he had us at 'hello'. David is well known in trail running circles, and even though he has an association with another trail brand, when he needed some thermals for his next challenge, we were all in. But rather us tell you about it, here's what David himself had to say: 

A trek to Everest Base Camp is something that anyone passionate about hiking would have in their bucket list. It’s a remarkable part of the world with epic mountain landscapes and some of the friendliest locals you’ll ever come across. The iconic mountain at the end of the trek is what draws most people to take on the challenge, but as soon as anyone steps foot in the Khumbu region of Nepal, they immediately realise that there’s so much more to the adventure than the finish line.

This particular journey takes what’s already an incredible experience to another level, because the purpose of the trip is to create history. It’s not a fastest known time or a summit attempt, but in this instance it’s just as special. Our purpose is to support an inspiring human, Jay Stevens, as he attempts to become the first paraplegic to walk to Everest Base Camp using braces.

After being the victim of a helicopter crash in 2018, Jay suffered serious injuries, including a devastating spinal cord injury. Shortly after arriving in hospital, he was given the news that he would never walk again and be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. However, being the fighter he is, after three and a half years of relentless rehab and training, with the aid of a walking frame he took his first steps again. Now, five years since the accident, he will be attempting to become the first paraplegic in a wheelchair to walk up to Mt Everest Base Camp with his leg braces and walking sticks.

“To have the absolute freedom and gift of walking taken away by paralysis for so many years, I know firsthand how much other individuals living with spinal cord injuries would absolutely dream to be in my position. I don’t take this very fortunate position I’m in lightly and have a deep pull to really prove you can defy odds and conquer your own personal mountains.”

Our journey starts on December 1st, boarding a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. From there we have pencilled in a 10-day itinerary that will see countless hours of grinding against the environment, with thin air and temperatures expected to reach -20 degrees Celsius and colder. Our plan is to maximise the daylight and move at a sustainable manner that allows adequate acclimatisation to the altitude and recovery between days. Our greatest challenge is the varying terrain, with technical climbs and stairs being very demanding on Jay’s upper body. For most people the downhills are a chance to recover, but for Jay they are both tough on his body, but also a fall hazard. The final hurdle is the weather. The overnight temperatures at this time of the year can fall below -20 degrees Celsius and there’s every chance of snowfall.


It’s going to be a test of everyone’s capacities, but thankfully we have an experienced team including myself and local guides, who know the mountains intimately and are well versed in pushing people to their limits in order to achieve lofty goals. In reality, Jay is going to be the one doing the pushing. He’s one of the hardest working and most inspirational figures I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with, and something tells me we will all be struggling to keep up with his drive!