Passion of My Life
did I get into climbing mountains?
When I was
younger, (like 43!) I was actually frightened of heights.
I say 43, as that is when I started climbing, which was to become "
The Passion of My Life "
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, and the like. Then
I found the mountains and mountain people. My life
has soared since then.
go back to the beginning of my introduction to the mountains, I was
minding my own business one day and 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 I found out this was climbing.
in a low mood, and keen to have a go at anything, I agreed.
hired a guide, named Nick Banks. We only found out much later, (as he
didn't say much about himself) that Nick was the second Kiwi to
have summitted Mt Everest after Hillary. Wow, what company !
set forth early in the morning from 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. A bit like on the farm aye. But
very soon, Nick & I gelled.
He told me I could climb..... so I
did and have done so ever since, all over the world. Nick and
his family became friends for life, and 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, and if he says you can
do it, you can.
farm was only a "fast hour," eg. 100 miles, from Mt Cook, and
it often crawled with climbers, due largely to them wanting to get away on wet days from the claustrophobic environment at the
We built a climbing wall inside my implement shed, (the first one
around those days!) and some of the guides used to come with
clients, stay in the cottage, and train on the wall. Great days.
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) and have the doubtful distinction of being
the oldest person by seven years, to do so.
ask me, "why do you climb", I answer, "climbing is great, but
it's the mountains themselves, and the people that climb that I
love. One of my old quotes is "The higher the hut, the more
fascinating the people"
think this big climb should be the last of the like.
said, " I would probably die on a mountain, but as I got away with
this big one, in a bed might be nice.