Largo man on top of the world

Keith Partridge on the Lhotse Face. ''Image courtesy of The Samsung Olympic Games Pledge.
Keith Partridge on the Lhotse Face. ''Image courtesy of The Samsung Olympic Games Pledge.
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A LARGO man was literally on top of the world at the weekend.

Adventure cameraman Keith Partridge joined an elite club by reaching the summit of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.

However, the 45-year-old’s efforts to film the first ever live television broadcast from the top of the mountain, which stands at 8848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level, were thwarted at the last minute when the extreme altitude caused his equipments’ batteries to freeze.

Speaking to the Mail on Monday from Kathmandu, Keith said: “To stand on the roof of the world at sunrise was indescribable.

“I’ve seen so many pictures and heard so many stories but to find yourself there – it’s really quite something. On summit day we fired up from camp four to the summit in eight hours, which is a phenomenal time.”

Keith, who has featured in the East Fife Mail a number of times for his camera work – most recently in February 2011 after filming the BBC television series Human Planet – made the climb to film his friend and experienced Everest climber Kenton Cool.

Mr Cool, who has now climbed Everest 10 times, had asked Keith along as part of the Samsung Olympic Games Pledge to take up, as a tribute and to fulfil a promise, one of 21 Olympic medals awarded to a tragedy-struck team of climbers of a British expedition, which narrowly missed out on becoming the first ever to top the mountain in 1922 (see below).

The pair reached the summit at around midnight on Friday and Keith had hoped to make history with the live television interview, which was to be shown on the BBC News 24 channel.

Instead the pair spent around 30 minutes taking photographs before beginning their descent, which they both completed safely on Saturday.

Keith continued: “To do it in honour of the 1922 expedition members with their Olympic gold medal was wonderful. I guess the catchphrase is ‘promises are worth keeping’.

“Every reaction we have had from the family members of that expedition has been absolutely beautiful and it has made me feel very privileged and very proud to have actually done this expedition justice.

“As a mountaineer when I look back in history, I look back at what these guys have given us – they were the heroes in my mind that really broke all the previously known standards and records and pushed all the boundaries. They stepped into the unknown, so to honour them was an extreme privilege and I’m just glad that we made it.”

Keith, a member of the Braes O’Fife Mountaineering Club, is due back in Fife tomorrow (Thursday).

You can read an in depth interview with him in next week’s Mail.

Life and times of an extreme cameraman

KEITH Partridge is no stranger to a spot of unorthodox filming.

Just one of a handful of cameramen in the UK capable of filming in the extreme conditions, the former BBC cameraman of 13 years now runs his own Largo-based extreme-location filming company called Adventure Camera.

Perhaps, without even being aware, many of us will have witnessed the fruit of Mr Partridge’s labour by marvelling at programmes such as the BBC’s How to Grow a Planet; Serious Explorers, where he dropped over the side of the 741ft Kaituer Falls in Gyana and Human Planet, to name just very few of his most recent credits.

But it is not just television work that Mr Partridge has worked on, he was also a director of photography for the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Alien versus Predator’ and worked on the BAFTA winner for Outstanding British Film 2004 ‘Touching The Void’ and the 2008 EMMY winner ‘Beckoning Silence’.

A ceremony 90 years in the making

IN reaching Everest’s peak last week Kenton Cool (pictured) broke his own British record for the most summits of the world’s highest mountain – taking his tally to 10.

But this meant more to, the aptly named, Mr Cool, (38) from Gloucestershire, than personal achievement.

In 1922 a British expedition came within 500m of being the first ever to reach the peak but on the third attempt an avalanche killed seven porters.

To mark their effort 21 team members were awarded medals at the 1924 Winter Olympics.

Lt Col Edward Strutt, the expedition’s deputy leader, pledged to place one of them on the summit of Everest, in remembrance of the lost lives, but sadly his promise was never kept.

Learning of this Mr Cool decided to fulfil Lt Strutt’s promise for him by taking a medal, which was loaned to him by Charles Wakefield, the grandson of Dr Arthur Wakefield who was a member of the 1922 expedition, to the summit.

In a message via his expedition team, Mr Cool said the experience had been ‘humbling’.

He added: “To stand on the summit for the 10th time is simply amazing. This promise needed keeping, and after 90 years the pledge has been honoured.”