I’m a mountaineer. I climb mountains, love mountains and speak about mountains. People drive me as wild as I do them, because of my adventures, cock ups and rescues, but I travel to other places too. I’ve bashed through dense jungles, crossed open plains and sailed oceans across the globe. During late 2017 I decided that I needed a change. The year had been a tough one and I was tired. Tired physically, tired mentally and tired emotionally. I needed a break, but wasn’t sure what to do.
We left the Bujuku Hut at 4am in our attempt to summit Mt. Speke 4890m (16.042ft). Initially the terrain was thick bog and undergrowth, but this gave way to more open ground as the sun tried to break through the dense clouds. We ascended a large scree field suffering faltering disability, reaching the ridge early morning. This is where our problems began. Thick rime ice had plastered the rocks, making what should have been a challenging scramble, impassable. The only way we could summit was to circumnavigate the peak and approach it from the opposite side. It’s all sounds so easy to read it here, but what followed was a two-hour slog up and down scree scattered boulders and exposed edges. At least the clouds broke occasionally and allowed extensive views over the range and the tongue of the Ruwenzori Glacier. This ice used to allow easy access to Ruwenzori Peak, but its retreat has made any ascent of the mountain a real challenge. Few ever venture there now because of the loose rock and unstable ridge.
I rarely look for adventure. Adventure finds me. The years of scouring maps and magazines for interesting places are gone. I’m extremely lucky to have wonderful friends across the world who share my passion for travel, as we love to share our experiences. Sibusiso Vilane and myself met many years ago, climbing Carstensz Pyramid in Iran Jaya. Since that day, we have been great friends. Sibusiso has had some wonderful ideas, including cross the Drakensburgs and trekking the Otter Trail. So when he said ‘how about climbing in the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda..?’ I leapt at the chance. The Rwenzori’s were extensively explored during the colonial era and even starred in Rider Haggard adventure books. The Idi Amin era saw much change, but people are back. I have to admit however being surprised when asked to bring Wellington’s as well as an ice axe, crampons and mountain boots..!Read More »Uganda 2017 – To the the Mountains of the Moon, and Back… Part 1
My feet had hardly settled from walking in South Africa, when another trip called. I had been 33’ south on the Cape in late march and suddenly I was heading to Greenland, 72’ north. +30C was about to be replaced with -30C. I was tired, but thankfully organised for the ICEMAN Polar Ski Race…
One of my favourite ghost films is ‘The Haunting‘. Based on the wonderfully written book by Shirley Jackson, it tells the story of a house which is haunted by a ghost you never see. Door handles move and people feel strange presences, but there is no visible spectre. Why am I writing about this when I’m mountaineering in Nepal..? Well, an old ghost came to visit me on the hill one night…
Standing as the tallest mountain in Europe, Mt Elbrus 5,642m (18,510ft) is not a climb to be undertaken lightly. High winds and freezing temperatures make this one of the world most notorious peaks. The west peak was first climbed in 1874 by Florence Crauford Grove.Read More »Russia 2012 – The North side of Elbrus
I travelled to the Kyrgyz Republic during July and August 2011 in search of empty country and unclimbed mountains. That’s exactly what a found, but there is more to this beautiful and virtually unspoiled country than meets the eye…
My first venture into Africa will certainly not be my last! Ethiopia is a diverse country with challenges galore. At times it all got a bit too much, but I saw ancient cultures at close hand and came home with some wonderful images burned into my mind…
I returned to Sumatra to make another attempt on Gunung Kerinci, before flying to Papua to climb the hardest peak of my 7 x 7 challenge – Carstensz Pyramid. The climbing went so fast that I was left with ten days to spare, so I travelled across South Sulawesi and Central Java taking in the culture of the islands…Read More »Indonesia 2006 – Sulphur, Stone & Ceremony
Being back in the tropics was quite a change of climate from my last expeditions. I experienced jungle life at its best (and wettest), climbed high peaks and experienced differing cultures and customs. Volcanic activity halted one of my climbs and a boating accident almost cost me dear, but once again I have had an incredible adventure!Read More »SE Asia 2005 – Warmer Climbs
After climbing the two highest peaks in the Arctic and two Virgin Summits I was struck down with an illness which almost brought my trip to a halt. I recovered enough to get to Iceland, but from then on I was stuck in Hospital again!Read More »Watkins Mountains 2004 – Arctic Peaks and Appendicitis
The weather trapped us in a six day snowstorm, but we still managed to climb on this wonderful remote Island. The mountains seem to go forever, and with so many still unclimbed, this is a climbers paradise!
Named after the British explorer William Baffin – Baffin Island is one of the largest islands in the world.Read More »Baffin Island 2003 – Sane Mountaineering Decisions
Standing at 6189m above sea level, Island Peak is a daunting challenge for anyone. But when you have suffered severe frostbite the climb becomes a dangerous venture into the unknown…Read More »Island Peak 2002 – Climbing For Cancer Research UK
Nothing could have prepared me for what the freezing cold of Alaska can do. I had just experienced the best 17 days climbing in my life, but the 18th cost me dear. Frostbite and exposure nearly killed me, but a dramatic mountain rescue saved my life, and began a journey I will never be able to forget…Read More »Mt. McKinley 1999 – Once Bitten
South America holds one of the worlds greatest mountain ranges – The Andes. I stood on the banks of Lake Titicaca and stared toward the Condoriri Real. Within days I was standing at over 21,000ft on the summit of Illimani. It was one of the greatest moments of my life…