Climbing and Mountaineering

I started climbing at about the age of 13 in chalk – not limestone – quarries in Kent using a clothes line and a lot of luck. An interregnum of many years saw me learning to climb again on an artificial wall in Amersham. Then came a stunning time with my mate, Barry Roberts, in Chamonix where, just after the Larzac horse-ride, we climbed more or less everything that stood still, ending with the Cosmic Arete on the Aiguille du Midi.

Inbetween, I’ve started back in on Lake District climbs and in Snowdonia and, in 2002, the Alps with one 4,000 metre peak, and an epic on an apparently simple peak further up the Saas Grund valley.

I find climbing and mountaineering hard; that’s why you do it, at least that works for me. In many cases you push yourself to the limit – like so many outdoor pursuits – and the buzz is in managing the (controllable) risks.

But to stand on a mountain peak is to experience something beyond; you do not conquer mountains, you are content that they allow you the view from the summit. With rock climbing it’s simpler: you scamper up a pitch – or pitches – and are pleased not to have lost any gear on the way. Or your bottle.