Carl Marsh and Mount Everest. Image (left): Howling Red. Image (right): Carl Marsh

Firefighter who lost older brother in house-fire to climb Everest in his memory 

Carl Marsh joined the service to “do his brother proud” after his tragic death aged 34 

WHEN you ask Carl Marsh why he is embarking on a 71-mile trek up Mount Everest you might get a simple response.

“It was on my bucket list and after some close losses I just decided that life is too short,” said Carl, a firefighter from Penarth.

But talk a little longer and you’ll find his reasons are varied but all deeply personal.  

Four years ago Carl lost his older brother Craig in a house fire. Craig was 34. The two brothers were 16-months apart in age. 

The loss saw Carl pursue his childhood dream and become a firefighter himself. 

Craig Marsh at the beach. Image: Carl Marsh
Carl Marsh will be climbing Everest for his brother Craig Marsh (seen in image above). Image: Carl Marsh

“I thought if I could prevent another family going through what I’ve gone through and prevent another family from losing a loved one, then I would have done my brother proud – it felt like my calling, as clichéd as that sounds,” said Carl. 


Carl Marsh’ step-mother Jan. Image: Carl Marsh

But the reasons run deeper. The first of three organisations Carl will be donating to is Velindre Cancer Centre.  

In 2019 Carl lost his aunt to cancer. He said his Aunty Pat should have been off enjoying retirement when she passed. 

More recently he has been supporting his 64-year-old stepmother, Jan, in her recovery from breast cancer. 

Carl said: “The charity is massively important in the support they show for families that have been affected by cancer and I have friends now that are being supported by them and they just do so much to help and support you.  

 “I think moving forward I am going to continue to raise money for them.”

For his dad

The second charity on Carl’s donation list is The Stroke Association.

In 2020 Carl’s father, Paul, suffered a stroke. At this time hospitals were under strict Covid-19 rules and many of the services usually available were very restricted. 

Carl said The Stroke Association was a massive support system for both him and his father during this hard time. 

Carl Marsh (right) and Paul Marsh (left) at the beach. Image: Carl Marsh
Carl Marsh (right) and Paul Marsh (left) at the beach. Image: Carl Marsh

Carl said: “When I had no further support avenues to go to, I was directed to this charity and this lady called Tracey was just a fountain of knowledge for the services available for my dad once he left the hospital. 

“Without their help and support my dad wouldn’t have got a lot of the rehab and aftercare that he did have.” 

Paul is now 69 years old and despite ongoing memory problems “he is, in the grand scheme of things, doing well”. 

Madeline Donnelly, relationship fundraiser at the Stroke Association, said: “Every five minutes, stroke destroys lives and it can strike anyone – young, old and anyone in between.

“The Stroke Association is here to fund research and support people to rebuild their lives after stroke, but this is only possible with the efforts of our amazing supporters such as Carl and we’re hugely grateful to him. We wish him every success on his trek to Everest Base Camp!”

Life-changing support

Carl Marsh on duty as a firefighter. Image: Carl Marsh
Carl Marsh, right, on duty as a firefighter. Image: Carl Marsh

The third cause Carl is donating to is The Fire Fighters Charity.  

“Being a firefighter myself I have seen first-hand how important the work we do is,” said Carl. 

Jeffrey Scrivens, Community Fundraiser at The Fire Fighters Charity, said: “On behalf of everyone at The Fire Fighters Charity, I wish Carl the best of luck with his upcoming challenge. Climbing Everest Base Camp is no small feat, and we hugely appreciate his support. 

“Thanks to challenges like this – and donations from kind-hearted supporters – we can continue to offer our life-changing support to thousands of fire service personnel and their families every year. A huge thank you to all involved.”

“It’s nothing a bottle of whiskey won’t put right” 

Lukla Airport landing strip. Image: Siddharth Jadhav
Flight to Everest basecamp from Lukla airport. Image: Siddharth Jadhav

Carl’s journey to Everest Base Camp starts on March 22 at Kathmandu, Nepal where he will be catching a flight to Lukla Aiport.  

Dubbed the world’s most dangerous airport, it is 2,860m above sea level with a runway only 527m long.  

In comparison, Cardiff Airport’s runway is four and a half times longer at 2,392m. 

Carl, who appears unphased by the dangers, said: “I just see as part of the adventure, part of the journey. 

“I know it sounds a bit mental but after seeing it in so many documentaries I’m looking forward to getting there and seeing it for myself.” 

He even compared the flight to a “rollercoaster ride,” but said it is nothing that a “bottle of whiskey won’t put right.” 

The trek will ascend to 5,644m along a 71-mile trail.  

‘I’m training six days a week, three times a day’

Route to Mount Everest Base Camp. Image: Sebastian Pena Lambarri

Carl will have a physically exhausting battle against below freezing temperatures, low oxygen levels and potential altitude sickness. 

The journey will take a total of 16-days. Two of these days will be used for acclimatisation. This means Carl will have to hike back down to lower level to sleep and allow his body to adjust to the extreme conditions. 

“I can only take 15kg with me but thankfully there will be stops for food and water along the way,” he said. 

“I’m training five or six days a week to prepare and some days I’m training two or three times. 

“My alarm goes off at 5.20am every day and I’m usually done with my first session by 7am, which just feels great.  

“I usually start work at 9am and by midday I’m ready for the second session and then after work I’m ready for an evening session too.”  

Carl is funding the challenge himself but has received support from clothing brands like Rab and Helly Hansen who have provided him with hiking gear made for the freezing climate. 

Carl has already raised more than £1,150 on his for his three chosen charities and hopes to raise £5,000 by March. 

“I can’t wait to just get there – I’m counting down the weeks,” said Carl. 

To donate to Carl’s chosen charities, click here