Oxford’s Fr Philip on of the last flights from Nepal after charity Everest trek

Retired vicar Fr Phillip Nixon is back in his home in Botley, Oxford, after catching one of the last flights out of Nepal after climbing to Everest’s South Base Camp for Christian Aid.


Phillip, 72 was jubilant after trekking six days to the camp, reaching 5,380m above sea level before the six-day trek back. But his adventure wasn’t over as Nepal closed its borders for fear of the coronavirus and airlines stopped services.

Fr Philip Nixon at Everest

Philip said: “We only just got back, the airlines were closing down all around us. The Nepalese government has stopped all trekking and climbing permits and closed the borders. I feel so sorry for the Sherpas, who now have no work for the rest of the season.

“I gave away my duck-down quilted jacket and gloves to the Sherpas who need them more than I do.

“The climb itself went well – although it was cold, to state the obvious! Keeping clean without running water was a challenge. Sleeping in a bedroom at minus 15 degrees means getting into the sleeping bag without taking anything off.

“But the size of the mountains and the very sharpness of the peaks was stunning. Nepal is a fascinating country.

“Everest Base Camp itself has no permanent buildings, and there were no tents there at our visit. There are no more visitors’ visas at present. It is a desolate place.

“We had WiFi connections at most of the overnight stops, so we knew that Covid19 was an increasing problem. But it was only as we boarded the aeroplane for home at Kathmandu that I realised how close we were to not getting home.”

Phillip has raised over £1,100 in what was his third big challenge for Christian Aid. He previously tackled Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, in 2012, and Machu Picchu, Peru, in 2017 – despite not originally being particularly athletic. His Just Giving page is still running for donations.

Phillip, who attends St Frideswide’s Church, Osney, and St Mary Magdalen Oxford, said: “I haven’t always been into athletic things like this. It all started when I saw a sponsored bike ride in Jordan when I was 52, and a friend from church said we should do it.

“It was a challenge, I didn’t get altitude sickness when I climbed Kilimanjaro, and thankfully didn’t get it again this time, but you never know. I trained with lots of 20km walks around muddy Oxfordshire fields and cycling every day, but there was no real preparation for the lack of oxygen at altitude or the cold.”

Phillip, a former parish priest in Goring-on-Thames, was inspired to tackle the challenge by a love of Nepal and desire to support those in the world’s most impoverished communities.

He said: “I’ve been supporting Christian Aid for most of my life really. The emergency response work the charity does is so important, and giving to the cause is a way the church can show we care about those people who are less fortunate.

“Coronavirus is a threat in developed countries like ours, but we mustn’t forget the devastating impact it has on countries where health services are easily overwhelmed and where a loss of income means your children can’t eat. It is easy to forget how fortunate we are. Helping to provide relief for those in need is really important to me.”