A Ballater oil worker has conquered the highest mountain in the Alps and raised £4,000 for charity in the process.
But Owen Brandie’s challenge wasn’t plain sailing, as one member of his party fell through a crevasse and his climbing partner was advised not to make the climb due to its technical difficulties.
As reported in the Piper last month, 38-year-old Owen had hoped to complete the six-day trek up Mont Blanc with work colleague Alistair Geddes, but due to the technical difficulty of a new route they were forced to adopt, Alistair was unable to complete the challenge.
The pair arrived in Chamonix and we met their fellow climbers - ten in total. They were told what to expect and what the weather forecast was over the next week.
“At this point, we were told that the planned Gouter route was a no-go area, as there had been large rock fall in the days before our arrival,” said Owen, who works for Petrofac in Aberdeen but is contracted to Maersk Oil and works as an operations co-ordinator on board the Global Producer Three in the North Sea.
“The only option for the summit would be to take the more technical route up Mt Blanc du Tacul, at 4248m, then face a 120m ice wall to summit Mt Maudit at 4465m, before the final push to Mont Blanc, at 4807m.”
The next day, they set off for a two-day acclimatisation climb of Swiss mountain Tete Blanc at 3585m, to give the guides an idea of their capabilities.
“We had a long walk into a beautiful mountain hut called Cabane d’orny at 2831m, where we spent our first night before an early start and on to the glacier for a nine-hour day. At this point we had our first casualty, as one of the team fell through a crevasse, injuring his leg to an extent that he could not continue his trip.
“The guides made a decision about who out of the group would get to attempt Mont Blanc and, unfortunately, because the alternative route was quite technical and more demanding, they felt that it was out with Alistair’s technical ability. Sadly, Alistair would not be allowed an attempt.
“We were both very disappointed, as this was Alistair’s idea, he had trained so hard and his heart was set on the summit. He came up to wish us all good luck and to show his support, which must have been quite hard for him.
“Mt Blanc du Tacul was done in total darkness, with nothing but the head torch, and we reached the summit just as the sun came up. Then a slow plod up to the bottom of the impressive ice wall before climbing it and breaking out over the ridge of Mt Maudit and seeing our target before us.
“At this point, we had news on the radio that two of the parties had turned back, but we could see our goal and I knew it was achievable. We still had a fair bit to go, so the heads went down and the concentration went up and at 12.15 we arrived on the summit of Mont Blanc. The views were spectacular - it was an amazing feeling, and Alistair and myself are both proud of what we achieved.
“In total, we are have raised around £4,000 for Cornerstone and it is all down to friends, family and the people and companies we both work with and for - their support has been excellent.”
Cornerstone provides care and support in the community to enable children, young people and adults with disabilities and other support needs to enjoy a valued life.