Welcome from Colin de la Rue

Hello, and welcome to the website of the Eight Up Appeal – in aid of eight charitable causes for which I climbed eight mountains in 2010.

Thanks to the generous support of my partners at Ince & Co, the law firm where I have worked for 33 years, I was able to take a sabbatical between August and November – three months in which to do something different.

For a hill-walker in his later fifties it was the perfect chance go higher, to places reached only with time to acclimatise, while health is still good and the required fitness levels can still be attained.

Ascent of Mt Blanc, June 2010

The high point was to be Mera Peak in Nepal. It’s renowned for one of the best mountain views in the world – a stirring panorama of Everest and neighbouring giants.  To catch it through a lens is a photographer’s dream, but it’s a hard-won prize.  It takes a three-week trek, high camp at -20C, and a haul on ropes to over 21,000ft.

This was three times higher than anywhere I’d been until my first alpine expedition in 2009. I was 3½ stone heavier than now, could run for barely a minute, and had little experience of technical climbing.  Since then I’ve had various forms of training, and as preparatory climbs I’ve been tackling the highest peaks in seven countries.

In mid-November 2010 I was back at work after a month climbing in Africa followed by another month climbing in Nepal.  I was in Africa for Mounts Kilimanjaro and Kenya, the former preceded by an acclimatisation climb up  Mt Meru, and the latter involving a technical climb at altitude and a descent by multi-pitch abseils  (see Latest News).  Cindy joined me for a short safari in the Masai Mara, and after a brief turnaround in the UK we left on 6th October for a ten-day trek in Nepal before I joined an international group of climbers from the US, Canada, Denmark and the UK on the expedition to Mera Peak.

So why did I do it?  Why climb one mountain, let alone eight?

Not just “because it’s there”, for there’s more to be gained than just a sense of achievement.  For some people the real prize of the mountains is a sense of something else: detachment – the climber’s perspective of the place from which he’s come.

Sometimes a fresh perspective renews a sense of priorities – release from pre-occupations that didn’t really matter, and fresh awareness of things that can pass us by in the confusion of the busy lives we lead. Good things we’ve taken for granted, but could appreciate better, or do more to conserve.  Bad things to which we’re resigned, or have turned a blind eye, and could do more to change.

Those two goals, conservation and change, are two of the great objects of charity, and so it’s no surprise that ventures of this kind are often linked to good causes. The eight causes I’ve listed are all significant to me and to others I know in professional and private walks of life.

If I heed the advice of my children, it isn’t cool at my age to be collaring friends for sponsorship. Much as every donation counts, my aim is not just to raise funds but to raise awareness.  It is, after all, the good causes themselves, and the efforts of those who work for them, that deserve most attention and make the strongest claims for support.

I do therefore hope that you may find a few moments for what I say about them. Among them there should be something for everyone.  Elsewhere on this site there’s a good deal of material, in words and pictures, which you may want to come back to later. But  please don’t go away without first taking a look at the “Eight Causes”.  If you learn nothing new, may you find a frame of mind to appreciate afresh what you knew before.

Sharing with other people the climber’s perspective was my therefore my main objective – apart of course from having an exciting time, and enjoying with Cindy some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. It’s a purpose, incidentally, which was steadily fuelled by the great help I received from many people, who between them have been eight pillars of support.  And it’s the reason why I had coaching in film-making and editing, and travelled with a bagful of camera equipment as well as a laptop on which I kept a journal.

On Thursday 3rd March 2011 I gave an illustrated evening talk at the Royal Geographical Society in London, “One Way to Mera La”.  I tried to compare the very different natural environments in which the eight mountains are set, showing both stills and movie footage - some shot by headcam during action on the rockface, some catching the drama of helicopter rescue at altitude, and some focusing on the wonderful scenery I was privileged to see.   Many thanks to everyone who supported the event, which raised an extra £5,760 for distribution among the various charities I’ve been trying  to support with this appeal.

If you missed the event, I hope that the photos and reports posted on this website will still give you a good idea of the various climbs.

Enjoy the pictures.  Be part of the journey.  We all deserve a good cause as much as it deserves us.

Colin de la Rue

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