Nepali Times
Climate Change
Jamming in thin air


More than 40 trekkers, including musicians, cancer survivors and hardcore mountaineers have descended on the Khumbu to begin what could be the highest gig on earth to raise money for cancer research.

On 21 October six musicians from the United States, Britain and Australia will be jamming at the top of Kala Pattar (5,545m) as long as their lungs can take it.The group behind this breathtaking event, the Love Hope Strength Foundation, was set up by two-time cancer survivor Mike Peters of British band The Alarm and fellow cancer survivor, James Chippendale from the US.

Chippendale, 39, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia in 2000 and given a 50 percent chance of survival. For two years he was isolated and confined to a hospital bed and his home before his immune system was strong enough to go outside without a mask.

"The cancer has given me a whole new outlook on life and I would not change a thing. However, sometimes it is almost painful because I take on other people's pain," Chippendale told us.

In 2006 Peters and Chippendale founded the organisation to help other sufferers survive the disease. "I want to make sure all people have the same chance that I had, every person dying of cancer is one too many for me," Chippendale said on his first-ever visit to Nepal.

The idea to stage the highest rock concert on earth started off with the pair dreaming about going to see Chomolungma up close. "It was a pipe dream at first but when we talked about it properly we thought that we could actually raise some money for a cancer centre in Nepal," Chippendale adds.

As help was desperately needed in Nepal they decided to support the Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital in building clinic infrastructure with the much-needed equipment and funding. "We have had so much support from fans, musicians, our sponsors and the trekkers themselves. Artists are very supportive when it comes to good causes," Chippendale said.

Two years ago a group of British musicians already set the record by playing a gig at Kala Pattar, however, they were jamming about 20 metres below the very top of the mountain across the Khumbu Glacier from Chomolungma.

"We spoke to Oz Bayldon, the organiser of the 2005 gig, and he said they had left some leeway for someone else to break their record and he was happy for us to do so," Chippendale said.

So, if you happen to be in the Everest region over Dasain do drop in for free as Mike Peters of The Alarm, Slim Jim Phanton of The Stray Cats, Cy Curnin and Jamie West-Oram of The Fixx, Glenn Tillbrook of Squeeze and Nick Harper
will not charge for their breathtaking performance. On 29 October the groups will stage a grand finale at Durbar Square in Kathmandu.

Billi Bierling

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)