The one that got away...
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!
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.