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On the summit of Gran Paradiso
Gran Paradiso
- Introduction


This is an account of my second attempt at climbing Gran Paradiso. In June 1980 I had visited the Aosta region with a group from the Tuesday Climbing Club. We climbed various peaks but when it came to Gran Paradiso I had to give up about halfway to the summit.

This was to some extent due to the fact I had had a major operation only a few months before, but the main reason was I was new to the Alps and had made the mistake of wearing too little clothing at the start. I assumed I would warm up once we got going, but as I found out, at 5 am and over 3000 metres that just doesn't happen.

About a third of the way up I put on an extra sweater, but it was too late. My body heat had evaporated and my teeth were chattering (until then I had thought that was only a figure of speech). If I didn't want to fall victim to hypothermia there was nothing to do but retreat.

I returned to Aosta in August the same year and had another crack at Gran Paradiso. This time I made the ascent alone, my companion Ann choosing to remain lazing in bed at the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele where we spent the night.

On reporting my success to my cronies in the TCC I detected some scepticism. Nobody doubted I had made it to the top - after all it's only a snow slog - but one cynic who shall be nameless (Hi, Alan!) raised his eyebrows when I said I had soloed across the freak-out step to the summit Madonna.

Well, here's the picture to prove it. Come on now, guys! Tell me you didn't use a rope...

(Click the images for further details of the route.)