Everest is best for this man of steel

4th June 2004 at 01:00
Last month, the Diary reported that David Hopkins, head of the Department for Education and Skills's standards and effectiveness unit, was spending an extended Easter holiday leading an expedition up Everest's North Col.

For all you layabouts out there who, like the Diary, spent the vacation eating Creme Eggs, an update on Hopkins's exploits might be in order. Paul Sillitoe, the 32-year-old with autism and other learning difficulties around whom the expedition was organised, reached 6,725 metres on the 7,055 metre North Col, the highest a person with mental disabilities has ever climbed. After guiding Paul to his record, Hopkins returned with him to the 6,450-metre advance base camp but then set out to climb back up the North Col to join his 15-year-old son Jereon at the summit. They then had to descend in the bitter cold, risking "a real danger of frostbite". Does this man come from the planet Krypton?

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