Peo­ple who rock

Q&A with moun­taineer, diver and ex­pe­di­tion leader Paul Rose

Trail (UK) - - CONTENTS -

The high­est moun­tain I’ve stood on the top of is De­nali, at 20,320ft. But I al­ways think of Chimb­o­razo in Ecuador: its sum­mit is the fur­thest point from the cen­tre of the Earth!

On Ever­est we reached 26,000ft (7925m) at­tempt­ing the north-east ridge in 1989. It was ap­palling con­di­tions. Ev­ery­one was say­ing they’d never seen Ever­est so white. I was very happy to turn back – it was quite ob­vi­ously the only de­ci­sion to make.

I re­mem­ber read­ing the script for our new BBC se­ries and it said some­thing like ‘Paul walks up Scafell Pike and bivouacs just be­low the sum­mit, gets up at 3am, and walks to the sum­mit in moon­light for dawn’. I was at home here in Win­der­mere at the time on one of those days where the rain was side­ways, and I re­mem­ber think­ing “Holy smokes! That’s never go­ing to hap­pen”. But the weather had ob­vi­ously read the script and that’s ex­actly what did hap­pen. I’ve al­ways loved go­ing up there. From Eskdale par­tic­u­larly, it has that lovely Lake Dis­trict magic where as soon as you get go­ing it feels like a wild place.

What made me move to the Lake Dis­trict was that ease of ac­cess to wild-feel­ing places. It’s a rel­a­tively small place, but be­cause of its na­ture and the way it is pro­tected a jour­ney into the fells feels like an ad­ven­ture. There aren’t sign­posts ev­ery­where, and there’s a real sense of work­ing it out for your­self.

It’s hard to name a favourite part of the Lake Dis­trict. I like it where I live, be­tween Win­der­mere and Bow­ness. I love that I can nip onto the Lake in the boat and have a pad­dle, even a night pad­dle, or go for a run over Brant Fell or School Knott, or get on a bike and cy­cle round Win­der­mere.

As an ex­plorer I’ve al­ways been very re­al­is­tic about the idea that you might not come back from an ex­pe­di­tion. I’m a good risk man­ager. But the greater risk I think is stay­ing at home and do­ing noth­ing.

The po­lar re­gions are very pow­er­ful places. It’s one thing be­ing storm­bound for a few days but once it gets be­yond a few days, con­di­tions get harder, tents be­gin to get weaker, the storm in­ten­si­fies... then it gets per­sonal. You feel the storm is out to get you. The wind speed changes, the noise changes, the snow bat­ter­ing the tent changes and it’s like you’re in your own per­sonal storm. I don’t hunt those ex­pe­ri­ences out, but when you get through one there is a sense of re­lief and re­ju­ve­na­tion.

Com­pared to greater ranges the Lakes have al­ways felt very friendly to me. If it all goes wrong and you get lost, the worst thing that’s likely to hap­pen is you come down the wrong val­ley or some­thing… but even then there’s prob­a­bly a pub there. So put your boots on and make a run for it!

Quick-fire Q&A

You’re in a pub: what’s on the menu? Sausages! And mashed pota­toes with gravy and a good, proper bit­ter. That’s liv­ing! Worst thing you’ve ever eaten? I got very sick in Pak­istan eating goat curry. It had been re-heated lots of times and car­ried by camels and was get­ting warm. Then in a re­mote vil­lage I had raw camel milk, be­cause that’s what you did there. When I got back I thought eating yo­ghurt would help. But the yo­ghurt was off. That com­bi­na­tion was enough. Weird­est place you’ve slept? On long, deep dives I al­ways used to fall asleep at the de­com­pres­sion stops on the way up… Ul­ti­mate moun­tain day in three words? Quiet. Wild. Tea.

The Lake Dis­trict with Paul Rose is broad­cast on BBC2 in Septem­ber.

Paul en­joy­ing good weather on top of Scafell Pike – holy smokes!

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