Second Attempt on the Matterhorn. A Mountaineering Report.

Matterhorn

My middle finger on my right hand is lifeless. The finger inside the glove is more like a piece of wood than part of my body. We are on 4,200 m, just below the shoulder on the 4,478 m high Matterhorn in Switzerland. I can’t hear Thomas over the howling wind and he can’t hear me complain about my finger or how tired I am, or that I am cold. He just pushes on. “Jawohl”. I think of you sitting snug below in the village, maybe looking up through the window towards the pyramid shaped peak towering above the valley. Are you thinking of me like I am of you? Are the boys chasing each other around the flat or are you walking down towards the center of town, over the glacial torrent tearing its way down from the snow capped peaks above. Continue reading “Second Attempt on the Matterhorn. A Mountaineering Report.”

Devil’s Tooth: Third Time Lucky

Blood streamed down my face, over my neck and turned my shirt red. “What is going on” Deon shouted from above, no idea that a falling thumb size rock slid my middle finger open to the bone.  Moments before, as he shouted “below” I put my hand on my head for cover an instant before the projectile hit me. We were forcing our way up Tooth Gully to the base of one of the most inspiring and difficult peaks to climb in the Drakensberg of South Africa. Devils Tooth. Continue reading “Devil’s Tooth: Third Time Lucky”

Rwenzori: Mountains of the Moon. A Mountaineering report.

Images of elusive, jagged, snow-capped peaks towering above a thick jungle canopy flashed through my mind when I first read about this mysterious mountain, strutting the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I have always had a strange attraction to such seldom visited, remote and unrelenting places, and the Rwenzori and one of its host countries the DRC, definitely fits that picture. The DRC is one of the largest countries in Africa and endowed in mineral riches, but also hosts some of the longest lasting, most brutal civil wars on the continent fought by rebels whose hideout is and has been this very mountain range. Continue reading “Rwenzori: Mountains of the Moon. A Mountaineering report.”

Asante, Mount Kenya: A Mountaineering Report

I have asked myself too many times, “why would you want to endure subzero temperatures with a pounding headache at more than 5,000 m above sea level, while strapped to a 1 cm thick rope ,dangling above more than a km of air”. “Why would you leave your loving wife and beautiful boys to go and do something that scares the hell out of you every time you do it”. “Why risk your life and that of your climbing partner in an area so remote, ice laden and rock strewn that chances of surviving a fall would soon diminish with the quest to find your way to the nearest shelter”. I actually don’t know why. But I think, if you have the answers to these questions rambling about in your head during a period of utter isolation, you would probably not be in that spot at that time . Why do we endure terrible cold, dizzying heights and utter fear so far away from home. Are we searching for answers, searching for ourselves or just searching for a way to the top of this damn mountain? Continue reading “Asante, Mount Kenya: A Mountaineering Report”