Climber Jason Pickles has spent most of the early part of 2013 in freezing conditions on the ice as part of a team which has conquered a jagged 2,930 metre peak in Antarctica.
Team leader Leo Houlding described the ascent of Ulvetanna, of which 1,300 metres is a vertical climb, as “ten years dreaming about it, one year of planning, one month on the ice and one week on the wall” as their Berghaus-sponsored expedition became the first to climb a new route up the fang-shaped mountain.
Jason, aged 37, who is from Todmorden and is now based in Manchester, has not only worked with expedition leader Leo quite often over the 15 years of their friendship, they have also been best man at each other’s wedding, recently Leo’s role at Jason’s marriage to Daisy. They are the only British climbers to descend the overhanging El Capitan in Yosemite, and with experience called for in the Antarctic, Jason joined Leo’s team for the hardest climb of his life.
“It’s not the hardest in terms of technical difficulty but overall, yes - the extreme cold and supply logistics as we were six weeks out there. It’s a pretty hard climb in those conditions,” he said.
Back home, Jason is back at work designed and building indoor climbing walls, which he says is a career flexible enough to allow him to get away for a number of big climbs, including the ascent of Mount Asgard on Baffin Island a few years ago.
Berghaus were sole sponsor, and the mountaineering and climbing gear company worked closely with the team to design their clothing and equipment for the expedition.
A new range for general sale will be released using the Ulvetanna - which is Norwegian for “the wolf’s tooth” - climb as a major promotional selling point. The expedition has also been filmed by noted mountaineering photographer Alastair Lee.
The climb completed a busy year for Jason, whose parents Linda and Neil live in Todmorden, with a jungle climb in Venezuela at the start of last year and a Greenland expedition in the middle of the year.
Now married, he has a home to build and will be taking it easier for a while. For more about the climb, see the team’s blog at www.berghaus.com