Alan achieves his Mont Blanc goal
A Ponteland resident has achieved one of his big ambitions after climbing Western Europe’s highest mountain at the age of 76.
Along with friends and fellow mountaineers Graham Turner and Neil Waters, Alan Mitcham reached the 4,808m summit of Mont Blanc in the Alps.
He had attempted to do this in 2001, but 90km/h winds meant that attempt had to be abandoned.
Another chance for the Tyne Valley Mountaineers club member came out of the blue when Graham mentioned he was arranging a trip through specialist holiday firm Adventure Base.
The trio were supported by two expert guides and the trip included climbing the 4,060m Gran Paradiso, Italy’s tallest mountain, a few days before Mont Blanc to acclimatise to the high altitude.
Starting from the top of the Mont Blanc mountain railway at 2,300m, they stayed overnight at their first mountain hut at 3,100m.
At 5am the following day, they set off to cover the last 1,700m, reaching the summit six hours later and staying there for 15 minutes to celebrate their achievement.
There was also an overnight stop on the way back to their base in Chamonix, France.
Alan said: “When we reached the first snow ridge at 3,700m, the sun was coming up and the scenery was absolutely dramatic.
“Unlike in 2001, the weather was good for climbing and when we reached the summit, I was delighted to have achieved my ambition.”
The married dad-of-three goes on regular climbing trips in the UK with fellow members of Tyne Valley Mountaineers, although he is recovering at the moment after an unfortunate accident with a ladder not long after returning home that required spinal surgery.
He said: “I’m now able to walk each day and do some indoor bike training, and I’m confident that I will be back to full fitness next year.
“I’m hugely thankful to the great service from the NHS.”
Alan’s plans for 2020 include a skiing expedition in a section of Canadian wilderness with the Tyneside Loipers that includes being helicoptered in to a remote lodge in the Rockies.