However did I get into climbing mountains?
When I was younger, (like 43!) I was actually frightened of heights.
Yes, I say 43, as that is when I started climbing, which was to become “ The Passion of My Life “
It was 1974, when my wife Fleur left me. I was devastated. I guess I must have loved her. I seemed to have a death wish. Drinking too much, crashing cars, & the like.
Then I found” The Mountains” & “Mountain People” My life soared since then.
To go back to the beginning of my introduction to the mountains, I was minding my own business one day & the phone rang. It was a friend, who said “how about joining us to do the Copeland pass. This meant nothing to me, could it have been a new ball game, or perhaps some sort of dance?, but found out this was climbing. Being in a low mood, & known to “have a go at anything” I agreed.
We hired a guide, named Nick Banks. We only found out much later,(as he didden’t say much about himself) that Nick was the second Kiwi to have sumitted Mt Everest after Hillary Wow,, what company
We set forth early in the morning from The Hooker Hut to climb up to The Pass. Straight off I decided I didn’t like this climbing lark, as it just looked like hard work to me. Bit like on the farm aye. But very soon Nick & I gelled. He told me I could climb,,,, so I did,,,, & have done so ever since, all over the world. Nick & his family became friends for life, & though I haven’t climbed with him a lot, I say to him, “every mountain I climb is due to your influence”. Nick is a born teacher, & if he says you can do it,,, you can.
My farm was only a “fast hour,” eg. 100 miles, from Mt Cook, & it often crawled with climbers, due largely to them wanting to , on wet days , get away from the crostrophobic environment at the village.
We had built a climbing wall inside my implement shed, ( the first one around those days!) & some of the guides used to come with their clients, stay in the cottage, & train on the wall. Great days.
Looking back now, I am happy to say, “I first climbed Cook as a boy of 50” Have climbed it 6 times. The last as recently as 11 January this year ( on my73rd birthday,) & have the doubtful distinction of being the oldest person by 7 yrs, to do so.
People ask me, “why do you climb”, I answer, “ climbing is great, but it’s the mountains themselves, & the people that climb that I love. One of my old quotes is “The higher the hut, the more fascinating the people”
I think this big climb should be the last of the like.
I always said, “ I would probably die on a mountain, but as I got away with this big one,,, in a bed might be nice.