The one that got away...

Trail (UK) - - Inspiring Hills -

DAN BAI­LEY Only one?! If you haven’t failed to get to the top of a good num­ber of moun­tains then maybe you’re not try­ing hard enough! On Co­topaxi in Ecuador we got lost in cloud and spooked by crevasses. My only at­tempt on Mont Blanc turned into a ragged re­treat from a storm. On Mt Kenya we un­der­es­ti­mated the scale and al­ti­tude, and re­solve failed while cross­ing the scary ‘Gate of Mists’ from Ne­lion peak to the 11m higher Ba­tian. Unsea­sonal snow­fall put a stop to Bo­livia’s mag­nif­i­cent Con­doriri. I’ve vowed to re­turn to all of these, but it seems there are so many other hills to climb first…


I’ve still not climbed Great Wh­ern­side in York­shire!


The Cuillin Ridge. I had a crack at it a cou­ple of years back, but weather and cir­cum­stances de­nied me. I will be back...


For a while I was tick­ing off north face routes in the Alps. I guess I was work­ing to­wards the 1938 route on the Eiger. It hasn’t hap­pened and I think I’m prob­a­bly too soft now!


Mont Blanc du Tacul was sup­posed to be my first in­tro­duc­tion to Alpine moun­taineer­ing in 2008. We camped on the Col du Midi plateau, hav­ing crossed the pet­ri­fy­ing ridge from the Aigu­ille du Midi, with the sound of avalanches rum­bling all evening. We set off be­fore dawn, and headed up the

face of Mont Blanc du Tacul, around and over sev­eral crevasses. The al­ti­tude had given me a bang­ing headache and as we got closer to the top, the ser­acs looked pos­i­tively dan­ger­ous. We de­cided to turn back, hav­ing still had an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that I’ll never for­get. A few weeks later the serac col­lapsed, killing eight peo­ple.


Af­ter be­ing forced to re­treat from high on the north face of the Petit Dru at the Alain Crack by ver­glas-cov­ered rock I’ve since not had the chance to have an­other go. I’ve been very un­lucky with con­di­tions and some­times feel I’m des­tined never climb it even though The Dru is one of my favourite moun­tains.


K2. I at­tempted the peak in sum­mer 2016 and got as far as camp 2. No­body has reached the sum­mit of K2 now since 2014.


I must have been blown back­wards, drenched, half-frozen, stalled in waist-deep snow more of­ten than I can re­mem­ber. I can’t re­ally re­call what moun­tains that might have caused me to miss out on though. Maybe that just goes to show that I must have en­joyed my­self what­ever, and that no day in the moun­tains is a day wasted!

Co­topaxi volcano.

Great Wh­ern­side from Old Cote Moor.

Dra­matic morn­ing light and cloud on An Teal­lach, with Sgurr Fiona on the right.

CMD Arête on Ben Nevis.

The Petit Dru, as seen from the Mon­tenvers rail­way sta­tion.

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