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 attempted, among other things, new routes on Mount Everest.

I spent my apprenticeship climbing in Scotland during winter which provides some of the most challenging conditions imaginable, with high winds, freezing temperatures and steep technical terrain.

As a leader of countless expeditions, I know that courage is a vital quality, but it has to be supported by a robust and clearly thought out strategy. Good mountaineers are bold, but not blind.

Another fact is that in the mountains things constantly change and you ignore this at your peril. Pay attention to the often subtle changes that occur in the environment and among the team. Yes, stay focused on the goal (summit), but remain adaptable.

Last week I was asked to comment on a number of accidents on Everest in the press. I had no desire to lay the blame, but rather to offer some wisdom in order that future climbers can travel safely. An unwritten rule among good mountaineers is that no mountain is worth dying for. The number one priority is ‘survive’, followed by ‘reach the summit’, and finally ‘have fun and stay friends, if possible’.

Read more on EVEREST in my article for the Guardian here. Judging by the comments many people have a view on mountaineering and Everest!

Format

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 attempted, among other things, new routes on Mount Everest.
I spent my apprenticeship climbing in Scotland during winter which provides some of the most challenging conditions imaginable, with high winds, freezing temperatures and steep technical terrain.
As a leader of countless expeditions, I know that courage is a vital quality, but it has to be supported by a robust and clearly thought out strategy. Good mountaineers are bold, but not blind.
Another fact is that in the mountains things constantly change and you ignore this at your peril. Pay attention to the often subtle changes that occur in the environment and among the team. Yes, stay focused on the goal (summit), but remain adaptable.
Last week I was asked to comment on a number of accidents on Everest in the press. I had no desire to lay the blame, but rather to offer some wisdom in order that future climbers can travel safely. An unwritten rule among good mountaineers is that no mountain is worth dying for. The number one priority is ‘survive’, followed by ‘reach the summit’, and finally ‘have fun and stay friends, if possible’.
Read more on EVEREST in my article for the Guardian here. Judging by the comments many people have a view on mountaineering and Everest!
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