He’s no stranger to climbing mountains and Eric Robinson’s first hike for charity proved exhilarating as he expected and also brutal.

Mr Robinson took on the Sierra Nevada on the US West Coast to raise money for the Island’s at-risk youth.

Crossing 160 miles at high altitude left the vice president of operations for Chartis Bermuda Limited 11 pounds lighter and with painfully blistered feet.

The pledges he has raised are to be divided equally between the New Beginnings Education Trust and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We need to give our at-risk youth guidance, education, and development opportunities to bring them into the mainstream of the community, so that no one is left behind,” he said. “This is not an easy task, but something that needs to be done for the betterment of everyone in the Bermuda of tomorrow.”

The Trust launched its New Beginnings $1 Million Campaign in tandem with The Royal Gazette to fund educational grants for young people who have graduated from personal development programmes, such as Mirrors.

The fundraiser is also aimed at reviving Mirrors’ community programme for 19- to 24-year-old men.

When Mr Robinson took a look around his own workplace, he saw no shortage of potential pledges for his charity hike across the mountains.

“We’ve got three major insurance companies in this building, and about 350 people,” he said.

Putting the word out to friends and family, Mr Robinson found more than enough support to keep him going through a trek more arduous than any other he undertook.

Although many chose to give directly to the charities, he also collected privately and hopes next week to present both with their donations.

“I go hiking almost every year, usually on the East Coast sections of the Appalachian Trail,” he said.

But anything can get too familiar after a while, and hiking above tree line promised a more rugged experience of the back country.

The terrain of the Sierra Nevada presents significant dangers for a solo hiker, so Mr Robinson joined a group online and set off for 15 days on September 8.

Hiking at an altitude of over 10,000 feet above sea level didn’t make for easy breathing — and it wasn’t the only challenge.

“It was supposed to be 200 miles but I ended up with severe blisters and had to rest for a couple of days,” he said. “All in all, I did probably 160 miles.

“It was a circuitous lap that went around Lake Tahoe, into the high range Sierra Nevada and then back around into California.”

Temperatures plunged to near-freezing at night and soared to 95F in the daytime.

“There was a section known as the Desolation Wilderness, a four-day section, with no water,” he recalled. “We had to carry water for four days’ drinking and cooking. It’s not easy being conservative with your water after a long day’s hike.”

The trek “knocked the stuffing out of me”, he admitted.

“It would have been easy to give up, but I couldn’t. I know what I’ve raised will be put to a good use, and I’m really pleased about that. These are two charities that both work really hard to help, and they deserve all that we can provide them with.”

l To give to Big Brothers Big Sisters, donate to HSBC account number 006 000178 001.

For the New Beginnings Education Trust, give to Butterfield account number 200 060 60 308881 200.

On the information line, please insert ‘ER Trek’ along with your name.