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Climb-it change: a mountaineer's tale

Climb-it change: a mountaineer's tale
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Simon Yates, Mountaineer

‘‘I started climbing when I was 14, and the last 25 years I’ve been climbing mountains uninterruptedly.

“I’ve been to India, to Pakistan, to Nepal, to Central Asia — Kazakhstan, to North America — Alaska, Yukon, Greenland, South America and various different countries such as Peru, Argentina and Chile.

“I think the only place I haven’t been to that I would like to go to is Antarctica.

“Here in my home, in the Lake District, the weather is very variable and I have not really noticed a lot of patterns to it over the 20 years I’ve lived here. But elsewhere it’s a different story…

“Last year I went to the Tien-Shan. I went on a glacier called the North Inylchek glacier. It’s very big, and I hadn’t been there since 1998. There was no snow-cover on it, and indeed up the mountains around it. It was really striking. It was like visiting a completely different place. And while I was there it rained at the base-camp I use. When I’d been there previously it had never rained, it had always snowed.

“I was in Pakistan in 2007 and I hadn’t been back to this particular valley. It was the Baltoro glacier… a very long, large glacier that leads up to K2, the world’s second highest mountain. It’s several kilometres wide by about 100 kilometres long. I hadn’t been there for about 15 years. The glacier was noticeably lower, and there was an awful lot less snow-cover on the mountains around it.

“I’ve just literally come back from Tierra del Fuego. I was there for three weeks. This is a place that generally gets pretty poor weather. It gets incredibly windy, with a lot of rain. And in that three weeks period, there was only two days of rain, and the temperatures were amazing. We had days of 25 degrees centigrade, I think in all my previous visits, the highest temperature I had seen there in the summer months was probably 15 degrees. So that’s quite a significant change.

“Obviously, for us with the weather warming up it makes climbing less gruesome, I suppose there’s less suffering involved. It can make it more dangerous though. If you’re expecting snow-and-ice cover on a mountain and it’s stripped bare, you can end up getting rock-fall, which can make it more dangerous.’‘


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