Last Night the weather was wild in Lochaber and I never got on the hills, the rain was pouring down for a lot of the weekend so I had a social time catching up with old friends and another great night at the Lochaber Film Festival – It was the “Climbing night” and I left Onich in a downpour and gales but was soon at Fort William in the Nevis Centre along with over 500 other enthusiasts. What a night it was.
It was a smashing night Andy Nisbet getting the Mountain Culture Award, Sandy Allen and his incredible climb with Rick Allan on Nanga Parbet and Mick Fowler with a wild climb in the Indian Himalaya. All these great men are very unassuming and you were taken to another world for a few hours. Andy Nisbet the famous Scottish Mountaineer who has climbed more new routes in Scotland was given his award for his incredible efforts into making Scottish winter mountaineering a world leader and also his work in the world of mountain Training and of course his diligence in writing and editing Climbing Guide books and many other areas of mountaineering. We were shown a short film by Dave Mc Leod and his wife with some tributes to Andy from Martin Moran and Sandy Allen and a look at some of his life. It ended with the great man and friends in a crag on the West Coast this winter on an attempt on a new route. I really enjoyed the film and it showed the fun and adventure with friends on a day in the mountains in winter. Thanks to all for that and to Dave and his wife for the video.
There were a few other small films each excellent and then came the chat I wanted to hear. Sandy Allan and his incredible trip to Nanga Parbat and a climb of the incredible Matzeo Ridge Alpine style a huge adventure over many days in Pakistan.
Traversing the Mazeno Ridge to the summit of Nanga Parbat (8125m) was one of the outstanding ascents of 2012, and a rare recent success for a British team on an 8,000-metre peak. Sandy Allan and Rick Allen , and appearing at the Piolets d’Or.
The ascent was a triumph for veteran Himalayan activists Sandy Allan and Rick Allen. Setting camps on the ridge to acclimatise, they and team-mates Cathy O’Dowd, Lhakpa Rangdu Sherpa, Lhakpa Zarok Sherpa and Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa crossed all eight summits of the ridge to reach the Mazeno Col.
From a bivouac at 7,200m they made an unsuccessful attempt on the unclimbed continuation of the ridge direct to the top. At this point all but Allan and Allen gave up. O’Dowd and the Sherpas made a difficult descent of the Rupal face. The British pair eventually traversed the north flank to the summit and descending the Kinshofer route reaching the Diamir face base camp after a traverse lasting 18 days.
The ridge is 10 kilometers long with several summits over 7000 meters along an ice cream whipped ridge full of cornices and problems. In the end Sandy and Rick got to the summit after completing one of the world’s incredible mountaineering adventures. The story was told in an hour ( needed more time)and it was riveting. There was no egos it was just done in Sandy’s laid back way. When they ran out food they had a packet of biscuits for the last few days and no water, it was a wild time. It is a good an adventure as I have ever heard. At the end there was a question and answer session and Sandy was asked where the inner strength came from to keep climbing when all looked impossible. He said ^ maybe It was because I was brought up near the distillery at Dalwhinnie in the Highlands and the mellowness of that famous drink had an impact. A marketing man’s dream statement!The next on after a break was Mick Fowler ” the Climbing Taxman” and he spoke of an Alpine climb in the Indian Himalayas on Shiva a great rock prow, Again this was another wild adventure but we shared in the crazy world of travel in these lovely places. The false beard salesman trying to sell his wife an beard in India! The crazy roads with thousands of feet drops in between (I KNOW THEM WELL) The climb was impressive two men against a huge force of nature for days where they never knew if they would make it or not. What a trip and the photos of unlimbered peaks limitless awaiting the new generation and many of the older and incredibly fit climbers about. The whole show was too me wonderful and many of the places I have been privileged to see and climb in even at my level. You could not feel coming away into a wild night in Lochaber that you were recharged in body and mind and ready for the next adventure that life holds. Thanks to all who make the Film Festival possible all the volunteers and of course those incredible people who shared their dreams with us. I hope the many young people who were in the audience have some great ideas for the future thanks to Andy, Sandy , Mick and the others for such an inspirational night. Scottish Winter Mountaineering played such a part in these adventures not bad for a small country with peaks only very small in comparison to others in the world . What a place to live and adventure in . We are blessed!