A SCHOOLBOY who doesn’t even like heights is bidding to become the youngest Scot to climb Mount Everest.
Ryan Hume, 15, who until recently had never even scaled a munro, plans to conquer the world’s tallest peak by the time he’s just 19.
If he manages it, Ryan, of Liberton, would smash the record held by former St Andrews University student Geordie Stewart, who was 21 when he became the youngest Scot to reach the summit in 2011.
The teenager was inspired to reach for the top of the world after taking part in a life-changing expedition to the Arctic earlier this year.
Until then his only real experience of the great outdoors was camping with his family.
Now he is combining his fifth year at Liberton High School and studying for his Highers, with planning which mountains in the world he needs to conquer in order to prepare him for his Everest adventure.
He said: “I don’t like heights and a sheer drop to the ground would scare me, but I’m sure I can manage this. I’m confident I can do it.”
He began training by tackling Ben Nevis and Ben Lomond with mum Trish during summer, having decided to reach for the top after a gruelling northern expedition earlier this year organised by The Polar Academy, which is supported by Edinburgh-based Tiso Group and which every year takes a selection of youngsters on a unique Arctic challenge.
Led by Bo’ness-based explorer Craig Mathieson, Explorer in Residence with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Ryan joined at a group of Edinburgh teenagers in March as they crossed 62 miles of sea ice pulling 45kg sledges behind them and camped under the stars.
However, it’s still a world away from climbing the 29,029ft of one of the world’s most challenging peaks.
Ryan said: “My mum is worried about it because of the death rates. But I’ve researched it and I’m confident I can do it.”
Mum Trish said: “Ryan came back from The Polar Academy like a changed person.
“If he’d said before that he wanted to climb Everest I’d have said, ‘Good luck with that’, but now I feel it’s given him such confidence that he can do anything he wants to.
“We’ve had long conversations about it, we’ve found out about what’s involved and he’s determined that he can do it. We’re now looking for sponsors to help him raise the money he needs to do it.”
Geordie Stewart, who lives in Hampshire but whose dad lives in Edinburgh, reached the summit of Everest in May 2011. It was his second attempt after an earlier bid failed just 400ft from the summit.
He has sent a ‘good luck’ message to Ryan. He said: “People will say you can’t do it because not everyone has the ambition and focus that you have got. Believe in yourself.”
Explorer Craig, who set up The Polar Academy charity to give teenagers the chance to explore a world they might otherwise never see, said: “Ryan is a remarkable young man. He has truly been transformed.”