It’s a much-delayed, slightly rapid half-post this week. This is because I’ve been climbing the world’s highest volcano and away from all contact with the outside world.
It’s great being incommunicado for a few weeks, especially when the national news is universally stupid. When I got back to civilisation I discovered that a great controversy had taken place while I was away, and it had been splashed all across the news.
Had a wall been built around the White House? Or had Great Britain floated south and attached itself to Europe by a land bridge? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg’s personal data had been sold for billions?
No, nothing that momentous, but it was something that was arguably a lot more interesting.
Two gentlemen had towed sledges across Antarctica, and claimed to have completed the first ever solo, unsupported crossing. The news was greeted with great celebration, but a few days later it emerged that they’d cheated, by using a route that was only half as long as previous attempts, and by skiing along a road that was built in 2006 (this is easier to pull a sledge along than ridge-riddled, crevasse-laden, good old-fashioned naked ice).
As you may be aware, cheating is a subject close to my heart. There are no rules in mountaineering, and I believe that there’s nothing wrong with cheating, as long as you hold your head up high and say that you’re proud to get all the assistance that you can.
I once wrote an entire post about the best mountain for cheating, and I continue to discover new mountains which fit the bill.
Last week, I climbed a mountain in Chile, Ojos del Salado, by driving to 5,800m. Yes, I’m not ashamed. Lots of people do it, so there’s nothing wrong with.
But I was annoyed to learn that had we been a bit more imaginative and asked our driver to take us a bit further – to 6,000m perhaps – then we could have claimed a world first.
We got back from our trip yesterday, but I had to go back to work today and I’ve not been able to write anything.
I will tell you all about it over the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime you can whet your appetite by looking at my pics on Flickr. Dry, desert landscapes of isolated peaks, and views as long as anywhere on Earth (and some flamingos). Now that has to be some sort of record.