Stand By Me

Conquering Mont Blanc for kids in Colombia

Colombia Friday, 07 August 2015
Conquering Mont Blanc for kids in Colombia

The Stand by Me Ireland and Scotland team set themselves the ambitious challenge of reaching the summit of Mont Blanc to raise money for Stand by Me children in Colombia and began training for the task many months ago. After all their preparation the time finally arrived and they set off on their adventure…

“The ‘ducks lined up’ with top quality Chamex guides, ideal weather, a crew who were well prepared, fit, motivated and the best of craic. Chamonix oozes Haute Savoie set amidst the most magnificent mountain landscape with Mont Blanc, The Aiguille du Midi and their cascading glaciers. How would a load of paddys and couple of jocks fair?

Acclimatization climb was Gran Paradiso at 4061m. Our first mountain ‘refugio’ we swapped crocs for scarpas and a 4.30am start. An hour rock hopping across the ankle breakers under head torch light gave way to the snowline and full winter gear. Crampons, harness and ice axe, we made steady progress. The final stretch was narrow rocky scramble with sphincter clenching adjacent drops….interesting place for rock climbing greenhorns. All 11 successfully summited with minimal altitude symptoms. A safe and uneventful descent gave the whole group confidence.

After such a display of muppetry on the rocks we spent the next day on fixed ropes. Cracking fun until Ralph dislocated his left shoulder…twice! In spite of being some 30m up he managed to relocate it with nothing more than mere whimper….they breed ‘em tough in Armagh.

Bolstered with 3 additional guides we were ready for our main challenge of Mont Blanc 4807m. Departing 4.30am safely over the notorious Grand Coulouir…less intimidating when snow filled and in the dark. 80mins scrambling steep frozen rock was rewarded with sunlight and the magnificent vista from the Aiguille du Gouter. A welcome pitstop at the Gouter hut to shed non summit kit. Less technical but lung testing snow slog. Inconsistent underfoot to the Dome Gouter. Crevasse risk reduced we shortened the ropes and made great time to Vallot refuge. The famous Bosses ridge beckoned us up. Life time memory moment to climb along what was akin to a massive whale back.

3.5hrs from the Gouter hut we had made to the top of western Europe – Euphoric, emotional, exhilarating. To God be the glory for the health and opportunity to be here and savour this part of His planet. 11 Friends 6 guides together on the summit for over an hour….a new record for Chamex. Good times.”

Visit their fundraising page to read about their descent and the 6 team members who decided that after reaching the summit of Western Europe’s highest peak it was time for a marathon.

Not only is it a fantastic achievement for the team but thanks to the generous support of their family, friends and colleagues they have fundraised a fantastic sum for our kids in Colombia.

“Thank you for supporting and encouraging us in our training and contributing to the £15,000 raised to help Stand by Me kids in Colombia. Your generosity will make life changing difference to these kids.”

Stand by... almost there...