retrospect, I got obsessed with all the mountains,
with Everest, with going to Antarctica, with
tramping through Irian Jaya. In reality the best
thing that happened in 2000 was the friendships I
formed with all those people who came with me. We
had an absolute ball," says Gavin, "and
living in a tent for twelve months was
fact the dream eluded Gavin because he turned back
from the South Summit of Everest. "But my team
continued to the top and we were the first there by
the south side in the year 2000. It was a great
achievement and I'll never forget it. I'll never
forget tramping down to the South Col by myself
either, not something I'm keen to repeat".
whole Seven Summits dream
relied so much on luck and keeping healthy.
Following Everest with Denali was something that
some thought foolhardy, just from a point of view of
strength. "We were very tired and had spent two
months living on a bloody glacier in Nepal. The last
thing me and Andy (Gavin's climbing partner on all
Seven Summits) really wanted was another month
in freezing temperatures". But the Denali team
who went with them was first class and through
fantastic teamwork they weathered a week at 14,000'
and then another week tent bound at 17,000'.
"We very nearly gave up," remembers Gavin,
"Andy and I ran out of food, we were weak
as kittens, bored sitting in a tent, cold and Andy
was still suffering massively from his
sciatica". But the weather eventually broke and the team made a
successful dash for the top.
and Elbrus were easily followed but political
situations on Irian Jaya worsened on arrival in
Djakarta. The little airstrip Gavin wanted to use
was damaged by a landslip and there was fighting in
the jungle. "We ended up forcing a new route to
the mountain called Carstenz Pyramid with our half
naked porters living on a sack of bleeding
rice and tins of bleeding sardines which was a harsh
introduction to the world of New Guinea. When we
eventually got to the mountain we had a fantastic
day climbing the rocky slopes and everyone
summitted. Then we all faked injuries to get a lift
out of the place through the big gold mine
nearly gave up his Seven Summits bid when money ran
out for the $30,000 price tag to Vinson and
Antarctica was about as far away as the dark side of
the moon. Then, as luck would have it, a benefactor
stepped in and footed the bill for the whole trip.
"How often does that happen in your life?"
asks Gavin, "within days I was on that Hercules
to Antarctica and a lifelong ambition to step on
that continent came true. We started climbing on New
Years Day in 2001 and summitted in something like
minus a hundred and fifty five days later. God it
was cold, but what a beautiful place to be!"
two years planning and finding the money the whole
thing was suddenly over. "I never got a
sponsor" says Gavin, "although Tiso's in
Scotland weighed in with massive support for all the
kit on Everest without which we would have been
utterly screwed. I got a Millennium grant from the
Government for some of my administration but the sat
phone bill for Everest alone was $12,000 which still
makes me feel nauseous when I think about it" CONTINUED