Everest peak
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
Sir Edmund Hillary
A superhuman challenge for a cause that affects so many. You’re a hero to me and many. Never give up!”
Bear Grylls
Everest base
A superhuman challenge for a cause that affects so many. You’re a hero to me and many. Never give up!”
Bear Grylls

Richard’s climbing story

In 2011 my Dad Malcolm and I joined the Iceland Everest Expedition, dedicated to raising money for research into Alzheimer’s disease: my Mum Rhianydd had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease the previous year. We raised more than £1 million for Alzheimer’s Research UK and other members of the Expedition duly carried the Iceland flag to the summit, but my Dad and I turned back – as planned – after reaching the North Col at 23,031ft (7,020m).

My Dad, who was 65 at the time, had reached his physical limit and I felt it was right to accompany him and go home. But the summit looks tantalisingly close from the North Col – and before we headed down I could not resist climbing higher, halfway to Camp Two, just to see what it felt like. The Sherpas and our Expedition leader David Hempleman Adams all assured me that I was definitely fit enough to

reach the summit – as Sir David was kind enough to acknowledge in his autobiography, No Such Thing as Failure:

“The Walkers did incredibly well for people with so little experience, and once they had achieved this goal [of reaching the North Col at 23,000 feet] decided that it was right to stick with their initial decision to turn back and head for home. I actually think Richard was the fittest person in our entire party and I’m certain he would have made it all the way to the top. I even sat down with him and made a serious attempt at convincing him to stick around and have a go.”

From the moment we headed back down to Advanced Base Camp that day, I knew I’d have to return one day to finish the job.

But things have moved on since then in two important ways. First, I have to acknowledge that I was a very amateur mountain-climber in 2011. To be honest, I had no right to be on Everest. My Dad and I had started our training for Everest by climbing Snowdon and we’d only done one trial high-altitude climb, of Kilimanjaro, before we headed to Nepal and started acclimatising ourselves for Everest by trekking in the Himalayas.

Everest changed my life by giving me a real bug for serious mountaineering. Since 2011 I have undertaken many challenging climbs including the Matterhorn and The Old Man of Hoy, and in 2017 I joined an expedition tackling a previously unclimbed peak in Kyrgyzstan, which I was delighted to be able to name Peak Rhianydd in honour of my Mum. Read More Here

Secondly and even more importantly, Alzheimer’s sadly got the better of my Mum in 2021. She passed away in January that year, surrounded by her family, a day short of her 74th birthday. I now feel that the time is right to honour her memory by completing the climb I started to raise funds for research into her condition 11 years ago.

I also feel technically ready and able to tackle the supreme challenge of summiting Everest – particularly in the inspiring and hugely experienced company of Kenton Cool, who has already reached the top of the world an amazing 16 times – more often than anyone apart from the awe-inspiring local Sherpas.

However, I’m certainly not underestimating the scale of the challenge! I know just how physically exhausted I was by the time I reached the North Col in 2011, not to mention the mental toll such an expedition takes. But I also think

that there is a huge personal benefit for someone like me – a privileged business leader – in taking myself completely of my comfort zone and physically and mentally testing myself to the absolute limit.

Although the ascent from the North Col to the summit looks short and comparatively easy, I know just how many people have perished trying to overcome that infamous Death Zone.

In fact, the deaths of at least 310 people attempting to climb the mountain have been documented since 1922. The only recent year in which it has claimed no fatalities is 2020, when no climbing permits were issued because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Chillingly, some 150 bodies have never been recovered, and many of them remain exposed alongside the main climbing routes.

In the Death Zone above 8,000m or 26,000ft, Kenton and I will face conditions that represent the very limit of what it is humanly possible to endure. Temperatures on the summit average minus 30°C even in the climbing season, or below minus 50°C when the typical seasonal wind chill is taken into account (and can reach minus 73°C when the wind really gets up). Although I have had plenty of experience of industrial freezers running at minus 20°C, they do not come anywhere close to this!

At Death Zone temperatures, any exposed skin freezes instantly, carrying a high risk of losing fingers and toes (or worse) to frostbite. Atmospheric pressure is only a third of what it is at sea level, meaning that the air contains only around 30 per cent of the oxygen to which we are accustomed. As a result, the human body uses up its store of oxygen faster than breathing can replenish it, so

that without supplementary oxygen the experience has been likened to being slowly choked, while at the same time trying to complete one of the hardest physical tasks imaginable. No wonder that many climbers experience hallucinations, and that so many succumb to “summit fever” – an absolute determination to reach the top when the only sane course is to turn back.

And those who do reach the summit of Everest face the daunting fact that 80 per cent of mountaineering accidents occur during the descent, when climbers are tired after the supreme effort of reaching their goal.

For me, Everest is unfinished business.

Richard’s charity story

Reaching the summit of Everest seems a completely appropriate way to mark the 50th anniversary of my Dad’s founding of the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation [IFCF] in 1973 – beginning a tradition of philanthropy which has been a key part of Iceland’s ‘Doing It Right’ philosophy ever since.

It is a tribute to my Dad’s foresight that he thought to found the charity when the business was only three years old and comprised just four shops and a cold store, compared with the more than 1,000 stores and five regional distribution centres we run today.

IFCF today focuses on four core areas – dementia, the environment, wellbeing and children – and prefers to support smaller and less well-known charities where we know our fundraising can make a real difference.

We’ve already raised more than £17 million for dementia research and support, but the challenge remains huge: the number of people living with dementia worldwide is expected to triple by 2050.

So to mark our 50th anniversary in 2023 we are supporting a small charity – the National Brain Appeal – to help it fulfil a huge ambition: creating the world’s first Rare Dementia Support Centre.

Rare dementias include the young-onset Alzheimer’s disease with which my Mum was diagnosed in 2010.

All costs of the expedition are being met personally by me and every penny raised will be given to IFCF to support The National Brain Appeal.

What is the Rare Dementia Centre and why is it important?

It seems incredible, with so many families – like mine – facing the challenge of rare dementias, that there isn’t already one central place that people can turn to for support: somewhere linked to state-of-the-art research, expert clinicians, and worldwide networks.

The National Brain Appeal is giving us the opportunity to change all that by creating a state-of-the-art Rare Dementia Centre in London that will be the world’s first centre of excellence dedicated to supporting those living with inherited, atypical and young-onset dementias and their families.

It will exemplify how best to support people living with a rare dementia, through the involvement of its members and visitors in research, cultural and artistic activities.

It will also provide education for healthcare professionals (GPs, nurses, physiotherapists, opticians and more) and will be a space for pioneering research into these devastating conditions and accelerate the search for effective treatments.

When my Dad started fundraising for dementia research in 2010, he was concerned that it would not strike a chord in the way that previous appeals for Alder Hey children’s hospital and cancer research had done. He swiftly realised that he need not have worried, as so many of our colleagues and customers came forward with stories about how dementia had affected their own families.

I know how much this cause means to everyone in the Iceland family, and that all my colleagues will put their hearts and souls into fundraising during our charity month in stores and at head office. Together they aim to raise £0.5 million for IFCF to support the National Brain Appeal.

I will do my utmost to help raise a further £0.5 million by completing my climb of Everest and carrying an IFCF 50th anniversary flag to the summit, allowing us to fulfil our total pledge of £1.0 million to the National Brain Appeal to help fund this vital project.


Our plan is to climb Everest from Base Camp on the south (Nepal) side of the mountain as a very light team heading – if we can – straight for the top. This is in marked contrast to the Iceland Everest Expedition of 2011, which tackled the mountain from the north (China) side and comprised experienced European and American climbers, two complete novices in my Dad and me, a small army of supporting Sherpas and even a team of yaks to carry the heavy luggage (including Dad’s personal toilet).

We aim to complete the climb in just three weeks by compressing the traditional pattern of repeated ascents and descents for the purpose of acclimatisation, as described by Sir David Hempleman-Adams in No Such Thing as Failure.

In setting this hugely ambitious goal, we are relying on Kenton Cool’s unparalleled experience as a 16-times Everest summiteer and a hugely experienced guide.


Richard Walker

Richard (42) graduated in geography, qualified as a chartered surveyor and developed his own property businesses in Poland and the UK before joining Iceland Foods (the company founded by his parents Malcolm and Rhianydd in 1970) in 2012. He spent a year as a shelf-stacker and cashier before becoming an Iceland store manager and then moving to head office, where he took up the role of Managing Director in 2018 and became Executive Chairman in January 2023.

Richard is a committed environmentalist who has led all Iceland’s world-leading sustainability initiatives including the removal of palm oil from the company’s own label range in 2018, its pledge to eliminate plastic packaging from the Iceland own label range, publication of the full plastic footprint of the business, and its pledge to achieve Net Zero carbon in its operations by 2040.

He is a trustee of the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation and of the conservation groups Fauna & Flora International, an Ambassador to the Wildlife Trusts, Patron of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, a member of The Prime Minister’s Business Council, and a regular panellist on shows such as BBC1’s Question Time. His first book The Green Grocer: one man’s manifesto for corporate activism was published in 2021.

Richard was appointed OBE for services to business and the environment in the late Queen’s Birthday Honours list for 2022. He holds an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Bedfordshire and is an honorary fellow of UCL.

Click the below links to follow Richard on social media.

Kenton Cool

Kenton is one of the world’s leading high-altitude climbers and avid adventurers. He was first introduced to mountaineering when he read about Hillary and Norgay’s 1953 ascent of Mount Everest, and developed an obsession with rock climbing at university.

In 1996 he suffered a fall from a rock face and shattered both his heel bones. A year of surgery and therapy saw him become determined to regain his climbing form and he joined the British Mountain Guides scheme. Since then, Kenton hasn’t looked back. He has climbed extensively all over the world – establishing new routes and first ascents on peaks in Alaska, France and India. In 2003, he was nominated for a Piolet d’Or award (the equivalent of the Oscars for mountaineers) for a route on Annapurna III.

Kenton has climbed Mount Everest 16 times – a record for a European mountaineer – and was the first person in history to complete the ‘Everest Triple Crown’ (the peaks of Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse) in one continuous push from base camp. He was also the first non-Asian to summit Everest twice in one week, and is the only Briton to have ever skied down two 8,000m mountains.

As one of the global elite IFGMA guides, has successfully completed more than 44 expeditions including guiding Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Ben Fogle to the summit of Everest and becoming the first British guide to successfully lead a client to the summit of K2.

He is renowned as an energetic motivational speaker addressing challenges such as overcoming adversity in hostile environments, striving to attain a goal, critical decision-making in the ‘death zone’, and leadership under pressure.

Our Progress

The Route

Funds Raised

Please, please show your support by sponsoring our ascent to raise money for the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation 50th Anniversary Appeal.

Depending on whether your sympathies are metric or Imperial, you might like to think of backing us with a penny per foot or metre (at 29,009ft, even a fraction of a penny would be a real help in getting us to our £500,000 target).

Or perhaps you’d rather think in terms of pound(s) per mile? It’s almost exactly five and a half miles from sea level to the summit, to save you working it out.

Pledges and cheques may be sent to The Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, Second Avenue, Deeside Industrial Park, Deeside, Flintshire CH5 2NW, or please email at donate@coolwalkereverest.com for a Gift Aid form and IFCF’s bank details.

Alternatively, particularly for smaller Gift Aided donations, please follow this link to our page at justgiving.com.

Our Supporters

We are hugely grateful to the following individuals and companies who have already pledged or made donations of £10,000 or more to our Appeal:

Our Supporters

We also give huge thanks to the following companies for their support in kind with vital equipment for our Expedition:

in aid of the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation 50th Anniversary Appeal