Friday 9th November at 7pm - Rheged Centre, Redhills, Penrith
Over 200 people gathered at Rheged on Friday 9th November to listen to mountaineer, Alan Hinkes thrill them with his adventures whilst attempting to climb the world’s highest mountains, the so-called ‘eight thousanders’. These are the mountains over 8000m in height, which are all situated in the Himalaya range. And this was no walk in the park as Alan revealed the sobering statistics of the many climbers who have tried and failed, many of them personal friends.
His earliest experience of climbing was the pitched roof of his primary school! At 15, he made his first visit to the Lake District, camping at Side Farm in Patterdale. Alan remembered climbing Place Fell before moving on to tackle Helvellyn via Striding Edge. He did admit that he has not yet climbed all the 214 fells in Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides and said that it remained an ambition of his in the future.
But the main focus of the evening was the story of how he finally conquered all fourteen of the ‘eight thousanders’. And what a story it was; told through the medium of a film, made for television called Climb Every Mountain, interspersed with anecdotes at regular intervals. What was very clear during his talk was that his success was not only due to good planning and climbing skill, but also included huge slices of luck. He recalled accidents he had suffered such as spearing his leg with a tree branch that had stopped a 200-feet fall to his death. And another occasion when a snow bridge collapsed when he walking across a crevasse and he saved himself with his ice axe, but broke his elbow in the process.
Perhaps his most dramatic story was his final ascent of the fourteen, Kangchenjunga, in 2005. After a long trek to Base Camp and several weeks of acclimatisation, Alan and his climbing partner began their final ascent at 3 a.m. His partner turned back close to the summit, but despite failing light, Alan pushed on alone to reach the summit with only 15 minutes of daylight left. He had achieved his ambition, but realising he would have to descend in the dark, Alan admitted he had a panic attack but he is a survivor and he descended safely, meeting his colleague on the way down and they made it back to their tent and safety. Alan had triumphed against the odds and was the first and, so far, the only Briton to have climbed the highest mountains in the world.
Peter Linney, Secretary of the Society presents Alan Hinkes with Honorary Membership
At the end of his talk, Alan was given a warm and prolonged round of applause. Peter Linney, Society Secretary, thanked Alan for his fascinating talk and then presented him with honorary membership of the Society.
Derek Cockell - Press & Publicity Officer