A GROUP of climbers have had their Mount Everest tea break officially confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘highest tea party ever held’.
Led by endurance athlete Andrew Hughes, the intrepid bunch set up tea and biscuits at Camp 2 in Nepal last year, sitting at a height of 21,312 feet (6,496m) above sea level.
However, the idea for the record attempt was born not out of adventure, but more from a sense of community that had been missed during Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, explained Hughes.
“Every child grows up browsing the GWR book and wishing one day to be a part of its incredible history and being a part of this inspiring community – I know I definitely was such a child,” he said.
“But it was during the pandemic when the world stopped and the mountains I climbed internationally no longer were available to adventure up and on that I had the time to ponder deeper meanings for what draws me to the mountains.
“One of the most important reasons is the community. And so, after a year apart from one another, I wanted to find a record that would celebrate a return to not just the mountains but a reunion of this mountain family.
“In so many ways the record became a celebration of persevering through the pandemic and emerging with a greater sense of purpose and appreciation for all that was taken.”
Joining him for the record-setting tea party were fellow adventurers Ronan Murphy, Kristin Bennett, Garrett Madison, Sid Pattison, Robert Smith, Art Muir, Helen Cokie Berenyi, Krisli Melesk, Ven Veres, Kevin Walsh, Kristin Harila, Mark Pattison, Rick Irvine and James Walker.
Training for Everest tea party
Hughes and the team spent years training for the Everest trip as well researching the key components for hosting a tea party four miles above sea level.
“Thankfully the training to hold the tea party was already combined in my own training to seek the summit of Everest which I did on the same rotation that we held the record attempt,” Hughes added.
“It was extremely challenging. Climbing and training for Everest was years in the making and with the limited availability to train as I normally would during 2020 and into 2021 it was even more difficult.
“Knowing I would most likely have to climb and carry everything for my record to 21,500 feet at Camp 2 only meant more weight in order to make this record possible.”
As is often the case on the world’s biggest summits, the weather had the final say on whether or not the attempt would be possible.
Camp 2 was engulfed in a massive snowstorm as they prepared to attempt the record. Despite being some way off the 8,884m peak of the world’s highest mountain, they donned their summit suits and set up a tea party.
“With cold hands I carried everything out to a flat spot in the middle of our tents where a fresh blanket of snow laid, setting the table with everything as the snow coated everything,” Hughes added.
“However, the joy for a small mental break from the summit days ahead of us to simply celebrate with one another, sip tea, and indulge on treats largely absent from our diet on the mountain made the snow storm just an added unforgettable element to entire record attempt.”
As to the question of what kind of biscuits accompanied the tea, Hughes confirmed they were Girl Scout cookies from the famous Girl Scout Troop 6000 – a special guiding group designed for girls in New York’s shelter system.