Love Letters to the Mountains…

I adore Mountaineering and I adore Writing.  Inspired by a meeting at the Kendal Mountain Festival, I’ve written a number of Love Letters to some of the Mountains I’ve climbed over the past 30 years.  They’re a varied selection of peaks spanning the Himalayas, Africa, Asia, The Arctic and Europe.

I hope you enjoy them…


The Series Prologue…

Mt. McKinley 1999…

My ill fated expedition to Mt McKinley in 1999 has been well documented in my ‘McKinley Diaries‘ filmed earlier in 2020.

She is a beautiful peak, who cost my dearly, but whatever the pain and injury I have sustained – I still love her…

For more information about the climb, read the blog here

The Penny Ice Cap 2003…

Love is sometimes not what we expect. We go looking for one, but find another and that other beguiles us with Beauty, Peace and Purity.

The 2003 trips aim was to climb Tete Blanche, but blizzards cost time and milage, so plans changed and I was able to enjoy this beautiful peak and one of the best evenings on skis in my entire life…

For more information about the climb, read my blog here

Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo 2005…

Not all Mountains are Snow Capped, not all need great skill to climb, but many have beautiful flora and fauna on their slopes, which you may never see anywhere else in the world.

In 2005 I was almost drowned on my approach to the peak, as the boat struck a rock and sank in a river rapid.  I was lucky not to be cut in half by a following craft, but I pushed it out of the way and swam to shore, soaked, but alive…

For more information about the climb, Read my Blog here

Carstensz Pyramid, Iran Jaya 2006…

I travelled to Iran Jaya in 2006 with dreams of Climbing Carstensz Pyramid.  As a peak of the Seven Summits challenge, she can be busy and plays a waiting game with us all.  The weather and transport so entwined with her moods.

I was successful on the mountain, but saw no view due to cloud and blizzard.  People once thought there could be no ice within the Tropics.  How wrong they were…

For more information about the climb, Read my Blog Here

Gunung Kerinci, Sumatra 2006…

My 2006 trip to Sumatra saw me standing on the ash fields of Gunung Kerinci, a year after my first attempt. She had erupted then and poured ash and gas into the atmosphere, making any attempt impossible. She had quite a temper..!

My return was to be a happier affair…

For more information about the climb, read the Blog here

Maromokotro, Madagascar 2007…

Coastal Madagascar is a huge tourist attraction, but its interior is rarely travelled. On my 2007 Expedition, I learned that no-one had climbed Maromokotro for over two years and Id be surprised if many followed my footsteps.

Sadly I was too focussed on international expeditions than my love at home and paid the price upon my return.

For more information about the climb, read the Blog here

Ama Dablam, Nepal 2009…

This Goddess sits sentinel over the Kumbu Valley, looking down on many  that pass, looking for another.  I wonder if love has felt that way for us..?  The big names pulling all the attention..?

I attempted Ama Dablam in 2009 and almost made the summit, but poor weather forced me back and then she dropped me from upon high…

For more information about the climb, read the Blog here

The Matterhorn, Switzerland 2010…

This peak is an icon of Mountaineering and climbers have fallen in love with her for centuries. I received ridicule for even attempting to summit the twin peaks as my lack of toes seems to offend people. Undeterred, I slowly summited and returned, happy that we had met and spent a little time together, but didn’t realise that the wonderful highs were about to be smashed.

My love at home decided to leave me for another as I stood high on the mountain. Her love letters were suddenly worthless…

Mt. Elbrus, Russia 2012…

Friendship and Love often collide.  I joined a great friend on a long and bumpy journey into the Caucuses where we both met this beautiful lady and her twin peaks.  She towered above the sky and drew our gaze instantly.  Her curves were perfect and the snows pure and white.  Oh, how I wish I could Telemark down those stunning lines…

Long shadows were cast across her lines as we ascended and I stood upon her summit enjoying extensive views of the peaks below.  My friend couldn’t join us for the last few feet and was forced to turn back, but a wonderful idea saw him traverse her and set a world first.  Ive never seen him smile so much…

For more information about the climb, read the Blog here

Himlung, Nepal 2014…

Love can come with a price.  Not all romance is smooth, not all romance is sweet, but romance is romance.  Outside factors can send the path of love into a spiral, but you cant hurry love.  It will come when it’s ready, unless old ghosts come back to haunt you.  Here in 2014 on Himlung, the ghost reared its ugly bite and I took the decision to turn away because I knew it wasn’t right.

Sadly this expedition cost lives and I must have walked over deep icy graves.  I prayed for the departed and hope their souls rest in peace…

For more information about the climb, read the Blog here

Mt. Kenya 2013…

Not all mountaineering is about the highest summit.  At times we need to manage our expectations.  Injury, age and experience have taught me not to chase summits and loves I can never achieve.  We should always aim high, but never try to kill ourselves, our hearts or our souls.

I was overjoyed to have planned the trip to Mt. Kenya in 2013 with a great friend, but she had to pull out at  the last minute.  Again I travelled alone, like so many other adventures, but it wasn’t the same.

Still, I summited in deep snow and saw a beautiful sunrise as the main peaks towered above me.  It was a lonely trip home and I sat silently as the sun set a fiery glow across the plains.  The locals tried to cheer my flattened spirits, but the night was long and silent…

For more information about the climb, read the Blog here

Goalsevarri, Norway 2015…

Not all peaks require the commitment of weeks or months living in a tent, battling to achieve something up on high.  Some of the best are day trips.  They still demand commitment and nerve, but you can to sleep in a comfortable warm bed later that night.  One such peak drew me by chance in 2015 as I was mountaineering in the Lyngen Alps of Northern Norway.  She may not have been huge in height, but she was stunning in beauty and as pristine as Gefjon herself.

We met for only a single day and I have never felt such peace and purity since.  One day I hope to return and feel her snows again…

For more information about the climb, read the Blog here

Kinder Scout, England 1980 – Present Day…

We should never rush into the mountains and we should never rush into love.  Hillsides and literature are strewn with the disasters of the unable and the misjudged.  We need to learn from an early age and take to heart the lessons of our youthful mistakes.

I’ve been wandering over Kinder Scout since I was a boy.  Her emptiness, loneliness and starkness have give me a place to reflect upon my life and a place close to home where I can still get lost, both physically and mentally.  She’s a real prize.

She can burn you and freeze you, sink you in her bogs and batter you beyond reproach, but then again, the path of love is never easy…

Epilogue…

And so my Love Letters are done.  My thanks to all the peaks I’ve had the privilege to climb and love, to all the people who have joined me and the friends that I have made.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings…

One final thought – Write.  Write to someone you love.  Write to someone you miss.  Write to someone you respect.  The world of instant communication has its uses, but there’s still nothing like receiving a hand written letter through your door….

2 thoughts on “Love Letters to the Mountains…”

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