John Henry “Brummie” Stokes was born in 1945 in the mining village of Hamstead, just outside Birmingham. A the age of seventeen he became a military man and after three years service with the Royal Green Jackets he enlisted into the S.A.S regiment. During the next 23 years, he was to take part in active duty all over the world including the Falkland Islands, and was several times decorated.

Mountaineering has always been a major love. Even when he was shot through the knee in Dhofar, it did not put a stop to his climbing. He formed a close partnership with another S.A.S. climber, Bronco Lane and in 1975 they both joined an expedition to Nuptse, Everest’s near neighbour. Four men died on that trip.

The following year on an army expedition to Mount Everest, Brummie and Bronco went on to make it to the summit. On the way down, they were forced to bivouac, in appalling conditions, high on the mountain, which resulted in both of them losing their toes through frostbite. Bronco also lost the tips of his fingers.

Their Everest achievement won them British Empire medals, but it was a long road back to ‘normal life’ afterwards. They were both three months waiting for their operations to amputate their toes, after which they had to learn to walk, run and climb again, with only half their feet. Eight years passed before Brummie got back into climbing, and even then he found it a painful business.

1984 found him climbing on the north face of Everest (having proved himself by climbing Mount McKinley in Alaska) tragically, an avalanche was to wipe out advanced base camp, killing one of the members and injuring several others. Brummie himself suffered a broken neck.

After leaving the army in 1985 he obtained a permit from the Chinese to climb the north east ridge of Everest, the only remaining unclimbed route on the mountain. His team for this attempt was to be a joint ex-SAS and top British climbers with notables like Joe Brown, Paul Nunn, Mo Anthoine and Paul Moores along.

At 26,000ft, they were forced to abandon their assault owing to abnormally hazardous weather conditions, but obtained what amounts, probably, to the best ever film footage taken of Tibet and Everest.

Brummie, who never gives up, (he ran the London Marathon with only one knee and two half feet), completed the north-east, unclimbed section of the ridge of Mount Everest, but unfortunately suffered 3 attacks of cerebral oedema which partially paralysed him.

In 1991 Brummie founded the “Taste for Adventure Centre” which he runs along with his wife Lynn and a team of qualified staff. “Taste for Adventure Centre” is a registered Charity and an outdoor activity centre for less privileged children. Brummie was awarded an MBE in recognition of his work in 2004.

As a means to becoming self funding Brummie runs a series of courses for just about everyone with any kind of need.

For further information on Brummie and his life, why not read his book ‘Soldiers & Sherpas’

Soldiers & Sherpas’ A Taste For Adventure by J H “Brummie Stokes” MBE BEM is available to purchase from The Taste For Adventure Centre at a cost of £19.95 plus postage and packaging. To order telephone 01432 761398 or email angie@tasteforadventure.co.uk