John’s Climb of Gran Paradiso (4061m)

John Roach and his friends recently climbed the Gran Paradiso mountain in Italy, raising a fantastic £820 for Tiny Tickers. Here he talks about training, challenges and altitude sickness:

On day one, we travelled up in the cable car to ‘Glacier Du Geant’ for a training and acclimatization day. Straight up from sea level to 3400m. We geared up and went out onto the glacier for a series of training exercises and steep climbs to test our fitness.

After five hours, I and another team member developed altitude sickness, which was not a nice experience to say the least! Nevertheless, we completed the training and passed the test! We then stayed the night up in the mountains at the Torino mountain hut.

Day two, we travelled back down to sea level early morning and then drove to Gran Paradiso National Park. We then hiked up 2700m to another mountain hut to undertake further training later that day and then rest up, ready to climb of Gran Paradiso the next morning. Sleeping at altitude is not easy – so sleep was minimal!

Day three was the climb! We rose at 3am, had breakfast and geared up. We left the hut in the darkness with our head torches lighting up the way! The first two hours of the climb were over rocky terrain, which was challenging, but we were experienced on the rocks and moved quickly through this section.

Then onto the glacier section! As we climbed higher up the ice, we felt the altitude with each step we took! We crossed 100m deep crevasses and were knee deep in snow at times. Four hours later, the summit was in sight! There was some technical rock climbing required at this point, with 70mph winds and minus 10 wind chill. The last push to the summit was hell, but we made it!

We summited the highest mountain in Italy!! Due to the extreme conditions we couldn’t stick around for long, so quickly made our way down the rocks back onto the glacier.

Another six hours of decent followed, then we were back down safely and extremely proud of what we achieved. We had a few drinks and an early night to celebrate!

We are not mountaineers, so summiting a 4000m peak with only two days to acclimatize was a major achievement for us. 60% of people who attempt it this way, fail to reach the summit.

It was an amazing experience – something words or even pictures can’t describe. I’m glad we were able to contribute to such an amazing charity.

Would you like to test your limits to raise money for tiny hearts? Find out how here.