BT employees set for Alaska climbing challenge

Two BT employees working at the company’s national distribution centre at Magna Park, near Leicester, are getting ready to tackle one of the toughest mountains on the planet as they raise money for charity.

Keith Bunnett, 44, and Lee Leatherbarrow, 39, are just days away from setting off to conquer all 6,194 metres of Mount Denali (also known as Mount McKinley) in Alaska.

The climb could take as long as 20 days and is part of a series of fundraising events taking place within BT Supply Chain, a part of the BT business that provides supply chain management for UK companies.
Money raised will be split between BBC Children in Need and Cancer Research UK.

“There are no porters to carry our kit,” said Keith, who is the director of operations for BT Supply Chain. “We’ve 25kg backpacks and up to 25kg sledges to pull. That’s why 20 days is required to gradually climb Denali, to establish each camp then return to the lower camp to bring up more kit.

“Denali became an idea following conversations with a number of other climbers. The unsupported element attracted me as of course did the setting. The mountain is not the most technical but nature can be at its most violent there. Denali ticks all of the 'challenge' boxes mountaineers tend to seek.”

Keith and Lee fly to Anchorage on Friday 15 May and then take a small ski-plane to base camp with ten other climbers and guides. The mountain can only be attempted during May and June and, on average, roughly 50 per cent of attempts succeed.

Both BT employees are experienced Alpine climbers but Denali’s Arctic climate and high winds make it very dangerous. There are also numerous crevasses to cross which become more treacherous as the spring sun melts snow bridges.

The highest camp is located at around 5,245 metres. It’s expected the push for the summit will then take up to 16 hours, including the descent.

Lee, an operations manager for BT Supply Chain, is well-accustomed to hanging off cliffs, mainly in the Alps, but Mount Denali will present a new challenge.

“If the weather holds it will be fine, but high winds can suddenly drop temperatures to as low as minus 85 degrees celcius, with wind chill, so potentially very dangerous. There is every chance we could be stuck in one camp for days,” he said.

“Choosing the charities was the easy part, Cancer Research UK is very poignant to BT Supply Chain as we have had a few people lost to this recently and Children in Need is of course a tremendously worthwhile cause and one of the major charities that BT supports.”

BT Supply Chain is a BT Group business providing supply chain management and logistics services for internal and external customers. It works with BT’s many customers to ‘rethink what your supply chain can deliver’.

Nicholas Hale, managing director for BT supply chain and BT cables, said: “This is a fantastic initiative by Keith and Lee which will raise much valued funds for the charities we are seeking to support this year. Everyone at BT Supply Chain wishes them well on their expedition and we look forward to hearing about their adventures when they return.”

The climb is one of BT Supply Chain’s Fifteen in Fifteen initiatives to raise £15,000 for BBC Children in Need and Cancer Research UK. Other planned activities for the fund raising are the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the National Three Peaks as well as the C2C (coast to coast) bike ride that has already taken place.

To support Keith and Lee, you can make a donation on the BT supply chain MyDonate pages for BBC Children in need and Cancer Research UK.


Notes to Editors

*Keith Bunnett lives in South Northamptonshire and is the Director of Operations for BT Supply Chain

*Lee Leatherbarrow lives in South West Leicestershire and is BT Supply Chain Operations Manager responsible for the Pick, Pack and Despatch operation within BT National Distribution Centre at Magna Park in Lutterworth.

About BT Supply Chain
BT Supply Chain is a BT Group business providing supply chain management and logistics services across internal and external customers.
It encourages potential customers to ‘rethink what your supply chain can deliver’ and currently provides management and logistics across up to 50,000 individual orders each day.