Category Archives: Expedition

Secrets of Success – Commitment to the Plan

Getting a group of individuals to buy into an audacious plan requires commitment. You can have all the skill and talent in the world, but if people’s hearts are not in it, the chances of success fall away. Just as […]

The Art of Speaking – Part 2

Who Cares? When delivering a speech, just remember that because you’re the boss or someone of note, doesn’t mean people will sit up and listen. When preparing a presentation, a good starting point is to ask: ‘Why should anyone care […]

‘On The Edge’ – 5 reasons I Love Ridge Climbs

I’ve always enjoyed reaching the summit of a mountain via a ridge climb. Whether working as a leader on a well-worn classic route or trying a first ascent, a good ridge lingers long in the memory. But what makes them so special?

Naranjo de Bulnes; third time lucky.

The great tower of El Naranjo de Bulnes in the Picos d’Europa is one of the most famous mountains in Spain. Ever since seeing a photo of it as a teenager I wanted to climb it. However, for one reason and another, it would take me many years to succeed and teach me a few things along the way.

I first tried to climb Naranjo de Bulnes 20 years ago, alone and in winter, approaching on skis. I was working in Spain and I had a couple of days free. The weather was so bad I never made it to the base of the mountain and I had to take refuge in a shepherd’s hut overnight. I left without even seeing the peak.

Exploring the Cordillera Darwin – From one base camp to another

After flying 12,000km, we arrived in Ushuaia. It was dark, bitterly cold and blanketed in snow. Our skipper Marcel gave us a warm welcome onto his lovely boat, Iorana, and poured three glasses of very fine red wine. My kind of basecamp!

After a couple of days negotiating paperwork, first with the Argentinean navy and then the Chilean navy in Puerto Williams, we set off west along the Beagle Channel. Strong winds meant we often only moved for a couple of hours before seeking a sheltered anchorage. We were trapped in one spot for two days, the wind roaring in the channel. Almost a week after leaving the UK we finally got close to the big, pristine mountains. We had met just two fishing boats since leaving Puerto Williams, and now there was no one. We passed a couple of Megallanic penguins and up ahead glaciers calved into the sea. The mountains here felt raw and inaccessible, guarded by impenetrable forest right down to the water’s edge.

Exploring the Cordillera Darwin – Tierra del Fuego

In September 2013, Simon Yates and I set off to explore new routes in the mountains of the Cordillera Darwin in Tierra del Fuego, at the tip of South America. We would be the only people climbing in a mountain range as long as the Alps: the only access is by boat. On the map there are a few red lines denoting previous explorers’ routes. Most of the map is blank, totally unexplored – a rare thing in today’s world.

Everest – An Enduring Legacy

Everest – An Enduring Legacy

The first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 was an inspiring story of human courage, great leadership, teamwork and motivation. Importantly, it was also an example of a famous event leaving a lasting legacy for future generations. Following that successful ascent, theMount Everest Foundation was formed, initially financed from surplus funds and royalties, ‘to encourage and support ‘exploration of the mountain regions of the earth’. 60 years later the charity is still going strong, handing out thousands of pounds to pioneering climbers and scientists each year.

Survival tips for Mountaineers & skiers #2 – snow, avalanches & reducing risk

It is mid-December and in many mountains of the northern hemisphere snow has arrived. In the Alps, the avalanche hazard is so high that last week the Mont Blanc Tunnel was closed. Already, in the UK plenty of people have […]

What can Everest teach us?

Although I am known for pioneering new routes on some of the world’s highest, most difficult mountains, I think I learnt some of the fundamental rules of survival much closer to home very early on in my climbing career. Aged 17, I spent a week with two mountain guides in Scotland, climbing and learning everyday. The guides were extremely experienced mountaineers, having climbed, among other things, new routes on Mount Everest.

Going Underground

It was a relief to actually start our expedition down Titan, Britain’s deepest cave shaft. It was an even bigger relief when our leader Tim announced the plan.

“I think we should ascend back up the ropes once we reach the bottom, rather than doing the Titan through trip”.

“Thank god for that,” I said.

I’d been fretting all week about swimming through freezing underground lakes and squeezing through tight passages.

Harnesses over waterproof suits, thick socks inside wellies, the five of us headed across fields laden with big bags of rope and smaller ones of flapjack, flasks of tea and spare clothes.

We gaped in awe as Tim unlocked and swung open the metal door to reveal the first shaft. It was like staring down a long gun barrel carved of rock. A 170ft abseil and a crawl through knee-deep water along a horizontal passage lead to the edge of the 460ft Titan shaft proper. My feet were sodden already, but I hardly noticed.