WRITTEN by ANNE ENSOLL & ROB HOLDEN
In this series we’re talking to some of our clients, to find out the reasons behind the decision to hire a Mountain Guide. You can catch up with the first two posts here:
Who Needs A Mountain Guide? #1 Wendy Dodds, Athlete and Mountaineer
Who Needs A Mountain Guide? #2 Tricia Gill, Teacher and Skier
Rob Holden is an Exploration Geologist, hence his love of mountains and rock. He has been a lifelong cyclist, racing road and mountain bikes, and he is a marathon runner and Ironman triathlete.
Do you have any memories of adventures in the outdoors as a child or teenager?
I have lots of great memories. My father was a climbing guide in Scotland, the Lakes and Wales when he was younger, and he met my mother in the Langdale Valley on one of his climbing courses. With my brother and sister, we spent many many holidays in the Lake District, hiking, fell running, cycling and some rock climbing. I climbed Scafell Pikes when I was 5 years old, which earned me a free lemonade at the Woolpack Inn in Eskdale! I dreamed of one day living in the Lakes... I still do! So the outdoors was in my blood from a very young age.
What do you remember about your outdoor adventures when you started doing them independently?
From my late teens into my twenties I was heavily into running, cycling, triathlon and mountain biking. It was after a move to Vancouver, Canada that I began to hike in the mountains again. After scaling Mount Rainier in Washington State, and some other peaks in the Canadian Coastal Mountains, I knew that my love for the mountains had returned.
When did you first think about hiring a Mountain Guide?
I had moved back to the UK in 2011, and it wasn't long before I was planning my first proper Alpine trip. I wanted to climb Mont Blanc, but couldn't find any friends as keen as I was, so I hired a guide through a friend in the Chamonix Valley and had an amazing week, summiting on a cloudless, calm day. Immediately after that I started planning the next year's trip - the Matterhorn. For this trip I booked with Alpine Guides, and they booked Chris to work with me. I had another spectacular trip, summiting the 'Horn' in the late summer of 2017. I knew Chris loved his rock climbing so we were also able to do some spectacular rock climbing in the same week. This really got my juices flowing and I've booked Chris twice since in 2018 - once in the Lake District with my 12 year old daughter doing her first real rock climb, and then later in the summer with some good friends climbing the Cosmiques Arête in the Chamonix Valley. I also summited the Eiger via the Mittelleggi Ridge during this summer, which was another amazing week, and a second summit of Mont Blanc this last September - a much tougher summit than the first time due to high winds and rock falls.
Will you be hiring a Mountain Guide again?
I'm yet to decide which big mountain I'll aim for next, but I've now got the rock climbing bug and so my rock climbing aims for 2019 mostly revolve around becoming a competent trad lead climber. Chris will be an important part of that learning process and I look forward to climbing with him again next year.