Loughborough Tablers scale Mont Blanc

Rich & Jim at the top

Rich & Jim at the top

In August two keen but decidedly amateur climbers from Loughborough Round Table, James Tyler and Richard Urwin attempted to climb Mont Blanc to raise over £2500 for Rainbows Children’s Hospice. At 15,774 feet it’s the highest mountain in Europe. The challenge was preceeded by months of physical training designed to enable them to cope with the reduced oxygen levels at altitude.

Their journey involved changing from their planned route at the last minute, being forced into a night ascent, having to avoid rockfalls and they were just missed by a massive avalanche. Here’s their tale…

“Snow fall and strong winds on Tuesday night forced us to change our original choice of route via the Cosmiques Refuge and the Tacul du Mont Blanc.” A fortunate decision given the massive avalanche that swept the north slopes of the Tacul du Mont Blanc just three days later. “The problem then was that we didn’t have accommodation booked in the huts on the Gouter route.” This is the most popular route up the mountain in summer and the Tete Rousse and Gouter Refuges must be booked well in advance to guarantee a bed.

“The weather was looking good and we decided we had to go for it so we set off for the Tete Rousse hut to see if we could get a bed for the night. They were fully booked so we went on the waiting list and sat down to lunch. Over lunch we discussed the situation and decided on a night ascent.” Alpinists often start very early in the day in summer to avoid the dangers of rock fall and avalanche and because the going is easier on frozen snow. “We tried to sleep for a couple of hours in the afternoon, then had dinner and planned to leave at ten o’clock in the evening. We figured that would be better than a sleepless night on the dinning room floor.”

“Our ascent was pretty uneventful; the dodgiest bit was crossing the Gouter Couloir. You have to time it then just run.” Notorious for rock fall the Gouter Couloir has claimed many lives. “the best bit of the route is the 2,000ft of scrambling up to the Gouter refuge once you’ve crossed the Couloir.”

“We got to the Gouter hut in 1hour 45 mins and snuck into the boot room to have a bite to eat and something to drink, careful not to wake the huts inhabitants. We set off again at midnight and we on the summit for 04:00. We must have moved pretty fast as the guide book gives a time of 6 hours from the Gouter hut to the summit. What had started as a beautiful still night had changed completely by the time we reached the summit ridge. The wind had become very strong and we were really feeling the minus 30 wind chill, especially me as I’d packed a bit too light as usual.”

“Rich was really cold and we were all wind milling our arms to force blood back into our fingers, it’s agony once the feeling returns.” “We had time for a quick few photos at the summit and Rich produced a Loughborough Round Table banner and telescopic flag pole from his pack.”

“Our thanks to Duncan for fabricating such a lightweight flag pole and for calculating that it would take me 360 calories to elevate it’s 105grams to the summit and back.”

Rainbows Childrens Hospice

Children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions come to the hospice for specialist respite stays, symptom management, palliative and end-of-life care. Their families, too, are supported and helped by Rainbows on their difficult journey.

At Rainbows the emphasis is on enriching life and making each minute of each short life count.

Through various initiatives in 2008 Loughborough Round Table hope to raise in excess of £10,000 for Rainbows.

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2 Responses

  1. Absolutely astounding effort guys. Well done.

  2. Stunning achievement. Come on LERT can you better this one ???

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