14th January 2016
Writing: George Burke (Old Challoner)
This month George Burke, who completed his A Levels at DCGS last year, made a difficult charity trek in aid of charity. He writes to us from New Zealand.
Following the tragic passing of my Geography teacher, Mr Suter, I was determined to take part in a charitable event in his memory. As I already had planned a lengthy gap-year, it seemed suitable to climb a mountain along my way to raise money for Brain Tumour Research.
Originally I intended to summit Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, however due to an earthquake in the region I had to reorganise a different trek along my route. Mount Cook in New Zealand provided an equal and exciting challenge. Unfortunately the summit is limited to professional mountaineers due to the enormous risk involved, so instead I chose the two day, 'Ball Pass' trek; which, as it was, pushed me to the absolute limit.
After a two hour journey we arrived at the start of the ascent. Half an hour in, our pleasant walk was interrupted by a vast, sheer cliff face. We began to tentatively take the guide's advice as we clambered up the mountain. Ladders, ropes and helmets were needed fairly often as the ground underneath was loose and there was almost no grip. Breaks occurred once an hour, and as we got higher up, we began to see the hut we were staying at overnight as a speck in the distance. Four hours later we arrived at the mountain hut and had the most sensational views: Mount Cook to our left and glaciers and turquoise lakes below us.
Sleeping proved tricky, as one of my fellow mountaineers transpired to be a truly mighty snorer. Nevertheless, we rose at 4 am and strode up and over the ridge next to us to Ball Pass (a famous New Zealand landmark on the mountain), encountering more extraordinary scenery. On the way to the top I fell through some thin ice and cut my shin open, which added some extra drama. This then made the descent all the more difficult as the terrain turned into scree slopes - but after 30 hours, countless blisters, one smashed shin and 2000 meters gained, the climb was achieved.
I am proud to have raised almost £1400 for charity, which keeps rising. Hopefully it can make the £1500 mark!George's fundraising page