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Visit to SRWA by Matt Dickinson, Everest Summitteer and Author

Matt Dickinson, Everest Summiteer, inspirational speaker and author visited the Sir Robert Woodard Academy on Friday 12 February 2016 to enthral the entire staff and students with tales of climbing the world’s highest mountain.  

Sue Waton, Learning Resources Centre Manager invited him to come and talk to the entire school at the end of term assembly, and to explain a little about his experiences and how they had influenced his writing.  Matt has written the ‘Mortal Chaos’ series of fast paced action adventure stories for teens as well as the new crime drama series ‘The Everest Files’.  He also wrote a book based on his climb to the summit of Everest during the storms that killed so many back in 1996, ‘The Death Zone’ on which the recent cinema blockbuster ‘Everest’ was based.

Matt talked about what it takes to get to the top, the preparation and practise, the determination and how quickly frostbite can strike at such high altitudes; the difficulties of going to the toilet in such temperatures and the fact that his chocolate bar of choice (200 bars in fact) exploded in the thin atmosphere and so wasn’t much use to him as an energy source.

He gained the attention of the audience in seconds and showed some impressive slides of what it is like to walk the final few steps to the top of the world before challenging every student to think about their own ‘Everest’ challenge.   It may not be as grand as climbing the highest mountain in the world, but to achieve something that is out of your comfort zone will give you a feeling as good as standing on top of the world.

Matt then stayed and gave two creative writing master classes to groups of students; firstly to the winners of the creative writing competition run to promote Matt’s visit, and secondly to a group of year ten students chosen by the English staff.   They were all invited to write a paragraph about the thing they would miss most if they went to Everest for three months, then a paragraph about who their tent buddy would be and why; this had to be a fictional character!  Finally they wrote about what they would do if, on reaching the final 100 feet before the summit, after months of work and effort, they came across an injured climber and had to make a choice.  Help the injured person, and lose their chance at the summit, or ignore them, climb to the summit and leave the other climber to a certain death.   All three tasks produced deep concentration from the students and some fantastic emotional and descriptive pieces of writing.

Sue Waton said “year 10 student Shannon said afterwards that Matt gave one of the most interesting talks she’d heard; she went on the school ski trip to Austria over half term and when she was in the mountains all she could think about was Matt’s tales of frostbite and the effects of altitude on the human body!”

All in all a hugely successful visit, and one that will be remembered for a long time.


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