Glossop climber ascends unconquered Himalayan mountain

Caroline McCann, close to the summit.
Caroline McCann, close to the summit.

A Hadfield climber has made history after conquering a previously unexplored mountain in the Himalayas.

Caroline McCann, 40, of Queen Street, scaled the 6,046-metre peak in northern India on a 12-day expedition with two other British mountaineers.

The outdoor instructor turned graphic designer, who returned to Glossopdale on Sunday, said she had never attempted anything like it.

Describing the five-day trek to base camp in Leh, she said: “It was just beautiful: a twisting ravine with grazing herds of yaks, flanked by mountains on both sides.”

Caroline reached the summit with fellow climber Matt Jones, of Salford, on August 24 but despite a 13-hour push and two years of planning, said it was fairly anticlimactic.

“I just looked at Matt and said ‘Suppose we better go down again’. There were still storms all around us. We were just shattered.”

The party, led by Douglas Briton, of West Lothian, had to obtain official approval by the Indian Government to attempt the ascent of the mountain, previously known as Peak 4060.

They christened it Cha Ri, meaning ‘mountain of the flying bird’ after a seeing a lammergeier, a vulture-type bird, circling the mountain on most days. Ironically, Cha also means tea, which the team drank pints of during the course of their expedition.

Caroline said they wanted to explore the uncharted territory “for the adventure”, saying: “We wanted to go places nobody had been before.”

“We had three proposed routes,” she explained, “but we couldn’t use any of them because of bad conditions due to avalanches and rockfall and we had to edge our way onto a red granite ridge.

“A lot of the climb was loose shale scree and it was hard going. It was just exhausting. The altitude at 6,000 metres is feels like the worst asthma attack ever.”

The former Scout added: “The final few metres were way too dangerous to climb, so we clocked our summit at eight metres short of the actual top. The Indian Mountaineering Foundation acknowledged the danger and accepted the summit bid.

“The following day a huge rockfall came down from the summit cone, just above where we’d stopped the previous day. If we’d been on that, we’d have dropped 1,000m to the valley floor!

“Looking at it now, from the comfort of my home, I feel like it was a bit of a dream but I feel proud to have completed such an enormous challenge.”