By Matt Lowcock, Manager, Deloitte
Meet the challenge!
I never thought that joining Deloitte would lead me to the top of a mountain!
Whilst working at Deloitte I have had the opportunity to help solve numerous client problems. And we all enjoy solving problems, right? However, in contrast to the typical challenges we help our clients navigate, my most recent one took the form of a mountain... Stok Kangri. The expedition was part of Deloitte’s One Million Futures volunteering initiative. The challenge: how can I get myself to the top?!
Stok Kangri reaches up to 6,153 metres (20,187 feet). As the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas, in the Ladakh region of north-west India, it was never going to be a walk in the park. As we set off on our journey I considered whether picking the highest trekking peak in the Himalayas was a good idea for my first ever mountain ascent!
“It is only seven days to the summit”, I told myself. Alongside my colleagues, a team of 30, we set off…
A track on a ‘gentle’ incline led us through the first few days, leaving the warm weather of eastern India behind and entering the cold and changeable conditions that only altitude can bring. It was impossible not to be in awe of the stunning serenity of the landscape and the picturesque backdrop that greeted our every turn.
As we travelled, I quickly realised one piece of my equipment was not up to scratch. My sleeping bag! The higher up the mountain, the colder the evenings. Another problem to solve... I tried sleeping in different positions. Zipping my sleeping bag up to the very top. Tucking my sleeping bag around my neck. None of these approaches worked. Then I started slowly re-applying my trekking gear… success! Unfortunately, I couldn’t just put all of my clothes on before going to bed, I had to slowly re-apply my trekking gear throughout the night to maintain a temperature that I could sleep at.
Seven nights since our departure. The weather was harsh; the sleeping situation difficult. It was time to undertake the final ascent to the peak. 6,153m the prize. We set off in the dead of night. This is to make the trek safer and to get down before late afternoon when the melting glacier becomes more dangerous.
Seven hours in. Cold. Dark. Sleep deprived. The gradient unrelenting. We reach the final check point. One last problem to solve - 200m of ridge up to the peak. We set up rope teams and began to traverse through the 1ft of snow on the ground. Sheer drops either side. Here. We. Go.
Step by step we crept up the mountain. The thick snow sliding us back down the mountain with each step. The ropes were tested with the occasional loss of footing, requiring us to brace to the mountain. Our ice axes utilised to scramble up the trail. Seventy minutes later…
The clouds parted, and the stunning and endless views across the Stok region of the Himalayas greeted us in congratulatory fashion. We had made it  – challenge overcome!
Reaching the summit was one of the biggest achievements in my life. However, on reflection, my personal challenge pales in significance when I focus on the reason we undertook the expedition in the first place - to support our charity partners. The sponsorship we raised enables them to help thousands of people solve truly life-challenging problems.
 Expeditions to Stok Kangri, Great Glen Way, Mount Toubkal, Kilimanjaro, Namibian Skeleton coast and the Ride Across Britain were our OMF charity challenges which raised £625,000 for our Deloitte Charity partners, impacting the future of 5,000 people.
 21 out of 30 challengers reached the summit of Stok Kangri