Alan Hinkes OBE

On Tuesday I went to see An Evening With Alan Hinkes, and it was very well worth it! Alan HInkes is the top mountaineer in the UK; a Yorkshireman, he’s the first – and so far, the only – Brit to have climbed all 14 of the world’s mountains over 8,000m in height (the “8,000ers”), and returned without having lost even a finger. As Alan explained, with real depth and heart, achieving all 14 is hugely dangerous, and most people who try, die in the attempt.

Indeed, the first Italian to achieve this 8,000m incredible feat is now a millionaire and a household name in Italy, but for some reason, that’s not how it works in the UK, which is a real shame. I didn’t get a sense from Alan that he’s too particularly bothered, he just gets on with it, a true Yorkshireman, his slideshow of the Himalayas including pictures of the beloved North for comparison.

His talk was crammed full of jaw-dropping stuff, interspersed with good solid Yorkshire humour; at one point he showed a clip where he was filming his climbing partner up one of these thousand-metre cliff faces, when Alan slipped, the camera went all shonky, he fell but was caught by ropes and then the traditional Yorkshire curse – “Oh for fook’s sake!” and a clamber back up to where he had been stood.

That’s not online, but here he is on the summit of K2:

A lot of black humour too, as almost every person he spoke about was suffixed with “he’s dead now too” which really drove home just how incredibly dangerous the 8000ers are.

Now, I originally met Alan when he accompanied my dad (himself a bumbly climber of some renown) to visit us out on St Kilda when I was working there in June. Here we are, my colleague Jack, me, dad, and Alan, on top of Conachair, St Kilda’s highest peak. St Kilda is “a bit breezy” even in the middle of June, which explains why we look so weather beaten:

Alan’s a real lively man, one of those people who is absolutely fascinated in absolutely everything and an absolutely bloody good laugh! If you get the chance to hear him speak, I do recommend it.

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