I say this meaning no disrespect. I am well aware that I cannot climb the three flights of stairs to this office without several hours forward planning and extra oxygen reserves - bur our Alan seems to have got into a habit of challenging himself to do what he simply cannot.
Alan was born in 1954 in North Yorkshire, and was educated at Northallerton Grammar School. He began fellwalking with the Outdoor Activities Society then started to rock climb on local outcrops and the Lakeland crags.
In 1975, he became a qualified teacher in Outdoor Education and Geography; he also became the President of the College Mountaineering Club. He began his mountaineering exploits in the Alps with ascents of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. In 1984, he dedicated himself to mountaineering on a full-time basis and became a Technical Consultant with Berghaus. Alan is also an accomplished cameraman, photographer and writer with a regular column - ''Hinkes on Hills'' - in Trail magazine.
Alans goal is to become the first Briton to climb all fourteen of the world''s 8000m peaks.
In 1997 the main man set himself a challenge - to climb six of the worlds 8000 thousand metre plus mountains - a challenge which , if met would mean he had climbed all fourteen of the 8000+ mountains - becoming the only British man ever to do so. With the most peaks summited in one year being four, and only six people ever climbing all fourteen peaks, this was going to be a Challenge indeed.
Alan has dedicated ten years of his life to climbing these fourteen 8000 metre Mountains.
Over the past 12 years, Alan has climbed eleven of the fourteen 8000m peaks in the world as follows:
Shisha Pangma 1987
Cho Oyu 1990
Broad Peak 1991
Everest 1996 (filmed for C4 TV documentary ''Summit Fever'')
Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak) 1996
Gasherbrum II 1996
Lhotse, 1997 - Alans climbing friend Mal Duff dies at base camp in his sleep, while Alan combats the high winds and erratic weather conditions at 5900 metres. Also while he's up the mountain he hears of five people killed on Everest that day and passes the 'Benoit Chamoux' Chorten - a shrine to his friend Benoit who disappeared whilst climbing that particular ascent. Alan decides to climb on as Mal would have wanted him to.
Nanga Parbat 1998 - It was during the 1997 effort to combat this mountain that the well reported on 'chapatti' incident took place. Having already strained his back digging on the mountain Alan sneezed on chapatti flour and prolapsed a disk in his back. He was then air lifted off the mountain and had to admit failure.
Makalu 1999 - Alan summited Makalu in May 99 after previousley failing to do so in 95' Alan slipped down the mountain and speared himself in the leg with a bamboo shoot, narrowly missing a main artery.Fearing death, he was - again - air lifted off the mountain.
Makalu has often been compared to K2 in its difficulty,which in its turn is said to be much more challenging a climb than Everest itself ( the highest mountain in the world ).
Having just completed a tour of Britain, reporting on the trials and tribulations of climbing the famous fourteen and that 'chapatti' incident, Alan is now spending his days in the gym keeping fit for his next climb the date of which has not yet been fixed.
When recently asked what he normally does Alan replied
"what is normality? I'm often asked 'what do you normally do, Alan?' Well, normally I climb mountains. I certainly feel at home in the hills, and completely 'normal'! Yet I don't feel 'abnormal' when I'm in Britain, in the office, giving talks, writing, driving and doing what most people would consider normal day-to-day activities and tasks.
In fact, when I come back I actually feel very appreciative of this normality. I miss having good wine, food and beer and I feel very lucky that I can do what I want to do.
And with that we wish him luck in his Challenge 8000. We hope this year he will actually complete his challenge - as promised (three years ago!!)
To keep up to date with Alans expeditions check out -
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