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Footsteps on the Mountain

A client's-eye view of the world of mountaineering and adventure travel

"There was no question about it, mountains offered all that the heart could desire."
Eric Shipton

The Denali concession: is it good for customer choice?

Denali's West Buttress route seen from Camp 1 on the Kahiltna Glacier. 92% of people climb Denali by this route. Does the concession system encourage this?

The Denali guiding concession is up for grabs. According to the National Park Service it’s intended to provide a variety of mountaineering services of different prices and style. But is this true? I had a look at what the existing operators are offering. Continue reading

December 17, 2014 4:09 pm | Comments (0)

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How Nepal first came to open its doors to tourism

Nepal has become the go-to destination for Himalayan trekking and mountaineering

The book I’m writing about my journey to the summit of Everest contains a chapter on high altitude trekking. Nepal was isolated from the outside world for much of its history, but has become the Himalayas’ go-to destination. How did this happen? Continue reading

December 10, 2014 4:08 pm | Comments (0)

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Expedition insurance: why I’m ditching BMC for another provider

BMC Insurance: great in theory, not so good in practice

For several years now Christmas has been the time to renew my annual travel insurance with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). This year I won’t be, and this post is all about why and where I’ll be shopping around. Continue reading

December 3, 2014 4:00 pm | Comments (8)

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Southwest ridge of Cholatse: the videos

Chad traverses the meat cleaver on the way down from the summit of Cholatse (Photo: Chad Brenner)

Last week I posted a trip report about our Cholatse ascent that was so long I imagine a few of you couldn’t be bothered to read it. Luckily for those of you who prefer to watch a bit of action I also have some spine tingling video footage. Continue reading

November 26, 2014 4:09 pm | Comments (5)

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Cholatse 11, Ama Dablam 0 (Everest arrested for streaking)

Climbing the headwall below Camp 1 on Cholatse

If ever I used omens as a means of determining my next holiday destination, then it’s likely I would have spent this autumn sunning myself on a beach. Luckily I’m not superstitious, and my climb of Cholatse proved as happy and successful as an expedition can be. Continue reading

November 19, 2014 4:07 pm | Comments (1)

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When is a summit not a summit?

Me on the summit of Cholatse last week, but can you spot anything funny about the photo?

Last week I managed to reach the summit of 6440m Cholatse in Nepal, which has a reputation for being one of the country’s most challenging technical peaks. But there’s a bit of a twist, and if you look closely you might notice something funny about my summit photo. Continue reading

November 12, 2014 4:04 pm | Comments (8)

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How many aitches in Machapuchare?

Many people's first view of Machapuchare is from the town of Pokhara

Machapuchare, the celebrated 6,993m peak in Nepal’s Annapurna range, is often given the ludicrous spelling Machhapuchhare, with two sets of double aitches. This post is all about how to spell the mountain correctly. Continue reading

October 29, 2014 4:01 pm | Comments (3)

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Chillaxing on Cholatse: a return to Nepal

A closer view of Cholatse and the Southwest Ridge (right skyline) from Gokyo Ri

Last year was the first since 2005 I didn’t go to Nepal, so in 2014 I’m making up for it by going twice. By the time you read this I will be heading to the Khumbu region to attempt 6440m Cholatse. It’s likely to be the hardest climb I’ve ever done. Continue reading

October 22, 2014 4:00 pm | Comments (3)

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It’s normal to say you’re going to break someone’s legs, Sherpa admits

A strike by Sherpas cut short my expedition to Lhotse before we had set foot on the mountain (Photo: Ricardo Peña)

National Geographic has just published a series of articles about this year’s Everest avalanche when 16 Sherpas died. Buried further down the story is one startling statement that leapt out of the page at me. Continue reading

October 17, 2014 12:43 pm | Comments (8)

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Everest’s deadliest day – debating Everest’s future

Panellists Ed Douglas, Simon Lowe, Rebecca Stephens, Dawa Steven Sherpa, Doug Scott, and chair Ben Ayers discuss the future of Everest (Photo: Natalie Armitage)

Everest’s Deadliest Day was the title of a debate at the RGS in London last week, about the April avalanche and what it meant for the future of Himalayan climbing and the economy of Nepal. Here is my account and thoughts about the event. Continue reading

October 15, 2014 4:00 pm | Comments (9)

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Legends of Mulanje, Africa’s misty mountain

Many of Mulanje’s stories are as hazy as the legendary mists that sweep across its upper reaches and hide its peaks for days at a time

Mountains that are rich in history have a special attraction, but finding out about them isn’t always easy. Many of the stories about Mulanje in Malawi are as hazy as the legendary mists that sweep across its upper reaches. Continue reading

October 8, 2014 4:04 pm | Comments (0)

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Climbing Sapitwa Peak, Mulanje, the highest peak in Malawi

Edita scrambles over boulders between Sapitwa Peak and West Peak

Not only does the Mulanje Massif in southern Malawi contain some of the loveliest trekking you will find anywhere, but to climb its highest point, 3002m Sapitwa Peak, involves a very unusual scramble indeed. Here’s my account of our ascent. Continue reading

October 1, 2014 4:03 pm | Comments (6)

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Mafinga South and Mafinga Central: the highest peaks in Zambia

Edita on the early part of the Mafinga Hills' East Ridge

A couple of weeks ago I reported from Africa on my mission to find, measure, ascend and name the highest point in Zambia, and how identifying which peak to climb wasn’t as straightforward as you might think. This is the story of our quest. Continue reading

September 24, 2014 4:03 pm | Comments (7)

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Climbing Kilimanjaro: a taster from my forthcoming book

I made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro, but how difficult was it? You will have to read the book to find out.

I promised to provide an update on where I’m at with the book I’ve been threatening to publish about my journey from lowly hill walker to Everest summiteer. Here it is, along with a short teaser from the book in the hope that you might be tempted to buy it when it comes out. Continue reading

September 17, 2014 4:00 pm | Comments (10)

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Finding the highest points in Zambia and Malawi

Mt Mulanje, one of the highest peaks in southern Africa, rises out of the plains in southern Malawi (Photo: Lix / Wikimedia Commons)

You would think in this age of satellite mapping and websites like Google Earth the highest point in every country has been calculated by a machine, and you can just look it up somewhere. This isn’t the case, as I discovered when I tried to find the highest peak in Zambia. Continue reading

September 10, 2014 4:08 pm | Comments (5)

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5 of the silliest mountain firsts

Highland Games athlete Kenny Campbell carries a church organ up Ben Nevis in 1971 (Photo: Paul Newman)

With the news that a man climbed Snowdon pushing a brussels sprout with his nose, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what other silly things have been done on mountains. So here are some of the world’s more improbable first ascents. Continue reading

September 3, 2014 4:02 pm | Comments (0)

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How photographs revealed Frederick Cook’s Denali hoax

Frederick Cook, one of the most notorious con men in exploration history

Frederick Cook was one of the most notorious con men in exploration history who tried to fake the first ascent of Denali. What makes his story so engaging is the way photographs have been used to shred his claim so convincingly. Continue reading

August 27, 2014 4:06 pm | Comments (3)

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Why a highway to Everest is long overdue

Flights to Lukla Airport in Nepal's Khumbu region have become extremely unreliable in recent years

If you’re planning on visiting Everest’s Khumbu region on a prearranged itinerary these days then there’s a high probability of your plans going tits up. But things look about to change with plans to build a road all the way to Lukla, the Khumbu’s gateway village. Continue reading

August 20, 2014 4:01 pm | Comments (7)

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My new e-book Denali Nights out now

My latest e-book Denali Nights is available now on Amazon and Smashwords

I don’t often plug my own stuff here on the blog, but I thought I would let you know that my latest travel diary Denali Nights was published as an e-book on Amazon and Smashwords last week, and will be available on other online retailers over the coming weeks. Continue reading

August 17, 2014 1:46 pm | Comments (8)

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Looking back on Everest as the dust settles

Chinese mountaineer Wang Jing with two of her Sherpa team on the summit of Everest after their helicopter assisted ascent this year (Photo: Wang Jing)

Now that we’re beginning to understand what happened on Everest this year a little better, more recent articles on the subject seem to be more moderate in their approach. I thought it would be a good time to examine some of the things I’ve read more recently. Continue reading

August 13, 2014 4:10 pm | Comments (23)

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Please help me raise money for education in Nepal ...

sponsor me for CHANCEIn my spare time I am a trustee of CHANCE, a UK charity who strive to give young people in Nepal better opportunities in life by providing teacher training, and inspiring them to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award.

If you enjoy this blog it would be fantastic if you can give me a big thumbs up by making a donation. You can also help by getting sponsored for an event or travelling to Nepal with their partner trekking agency. Here are the other ways you can help.

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Latest comments

  1. “[…] In a previous post I noted that 92% of people climb Denali by the West Buttress, and I’ve struggled …”

  2. “[…] Still, at least we can assume they will do something useful with it, unlike other people I could mention. …”

  3. “[…] Am I being fair? I’m a Denali novice who has attempted the mountain only once last year, and much …”

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