A WOMAN battled high altitudes and extreme conditions to play the highest ever game of rugby on Everest.

Jess Cheesman, a director at Darlington RFC, joined 25 others in a challenge to break two world records.

Raising money for the charity Wooden Spoon, Miss Cheesman and her fellow rugby players faced altitudes of over 6,000 meters and oxygen levels of 40 per cent to complete the record attempt.

The team, which included rugby stars Lee Mears, Shane Williams and Tamara Taylor, trekked for two days and played the highest ever game of touch rugby first at base camp, at 5,119m, then again at advanced base camp, 6,331m above sea level.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Miss Cheesman, contracts manager at Sirius Drilling, said: "It took a while to get up to base camp because you have to have time to acclimatise.

“You had to make decisions while you were up there. There was about seven people out of the 26 who didn’t make it to advanced base camp.

"I just about managed with the encouragement of our teammates. You have to teach yourself to take a step - it’s definitely a case of mind over matter.

“In the end we only just had enough people to play, a couple of the Sherpas joined in.

"But it was absolutely fantastic. From the get go you felt like you were part of the team.

"I think it’s just that rugby attitude, you all just chipped in."

Darlington and Stockton Times:

After the second game, the players spent a tough 12 hours climbing down from advanced base camp, reaching base camp in darkness.

The 40-year-old added: “We walked down in one very long day, it took about 12 hours, but it was one of my favourite bits.

"I must have fallen over about 15 times coming down, then out of the dark came five little head torches.

"It was the people who had already made it to base camp and came back out to meet us.

"That just showed how good the team spirit was."

The game raised over £250,000 for Wooden Spoon, which supports children and young people with disabilities or facing disadvantage.

Miss Cheesman raised £10,000 for her share of the goal with the help of workmates, family, and those at her own rugby club.

She landed back in the UK on Monday greeted with banners made by family and friends and returned to work on Tuesday.

She said: “I couldn’t have done it without the help of my club and all the fundraisers we did.

"My work were also great in sponsoring me. It felt like a real team effort even though it was just me going.

“The whole thing was absolutely brilliant.

"I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to do something like that."

  • More information about the rugby game and how to donate to the challenge can be found at everestrugby.org.uk/