During the first week of the summer holidays, Lower Sixth students Killian Hughes, Henry Johnson and Edward August set out on a mountaineering expedition to Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps, having been awarded funding from the Travel Award programme.
The challenge was to summit four peaks, all of which are over 4,000 meters, in less than a week. The peaks were Gran Paradiso (4,061), Zumstein (4,543), Punta Gnifetti (4,554) and Punta Parrot (4,439). This was a tall order for three novice climbers, the risks and high likelihood of failure were made clear to us by many climbers more experienced than ourselves in the planning stages. However, we were lucky to have a local mountaineer by the name of Paolo Pieroni guiding us, who insisted that with the right preparation the task would be completely feasible. Paolo is incredibly experienced in his profession and has worked as a safety consultant for the 2015 film ‘Everest’ which was filmed in the Himalayas during the Nepalese earthquakes that same year.
Our preparation for the expedition was heavily orientated around fitness, which was to be vital for the long days (up to 13 hours) carrying heavy backpacks at high altitude, made worse when trudging through soft snow crust. We also made sure to brush up on our technical climbing skills at a local climbing wall, which came to be incredibly useful when having to ice-climb out of crevasses that had opened up in the glacier. On multiple occasions, our rock climbing skills were tested when traversing across cliff faces, often with perilous drops of hundreds of meters below us.
We all managed to complete the goal we had set out to achieve and all without injury. However, there were some very sore feet and exhausted legs. We were incredibly fortunate that the weather had been in our favour and the incredible effort and spirit from the whole team made the trip one to remember.
By Edward, Killian and Henry