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Sandy Allen – interview for Mountain Portal

/ Climbing

During last Open Climbing Days in May 2016 one of the main guests was a Scottish climber, a man who walked Mazeno Ridge - Sandy Allen. Thanks to his presence there was an opportunity to talk to our guest. We are publishing a short conversation that I was able to have with Sandy.

In 2012 you and your partner Rick Allen walked through the unreached up till then Mazeno Rige ridge at Nanga Parbat. How do you recall this situation?
It was really nice, it was a good place to be and it was amazing to be on the summit. After years of planning and thinking about this ridge it was really good to do it as it was a great experience both for me and for Rick.

Did you expect to get Pilots d’Or for this achievement?
No, not at all.  While planning the expedition we were concentrated on the goal that we wanted to reach and we weren’t thinking about the prizes that we can achieve for that.

You are a Scot. Did you begin your mountain adventure in your homeland?
Yes, I started climbing in Scotland when I was about 19 years old. I started rock climbing. When I was a child we always walked up the hills all the time. And eventually when I was about 19 I got interested in using ropes and mountaineering. That is how my mountain adventure began.

How did your way to reaching the highest mountains look like? Were you getting to know them step by step?
Yeah, in Britain is rather traditional that you start climbing in Scotland, than you go to the Alps and to the Himalaya. So, I wasn’t one of these people who start climbing in the Himalaya. For me it’s very important to develop my mountaineering skills step by step.

You are a mountains guide of IFMGA/UIAGM. For how long have you been guiding people to Himalayan giants?
I used to guide unofficially but in 1993 I became a qualified guide and I did most of my commercial guiding. So I think it’s been about 23 years now.

Do you put some new goals connected with mountains in front of you? Would you like to go through some new trails or reach new tops?
Yes, both for me and for Rick it’s important to climb if there is an opportunity to do so. We talk a lot about what we are going to do next or what we would like to try but I won’t declare anything specific.  

Would you like to know Polish mountains?
Yes, I went to Kacper Tekieli and we had a small trip to the Tatra mountains and some of my Polish friends take me climbing sometimes. Tomorrow, for example we are going to the Tatras.

„In some lost place” is the title of the book that you have recently written. What is it about?
Do you know where did the title of the book come from? Do you happen to know the musician Leonard Cohen? He’s got a song called “Teachers”. When I was writing the book I had it in my head. I mentioned this song in a book but I thought it was Bob Dylan. My editor told me it was actually Leonard Cohen and that we couldn’t use it as it would cost us a lot of money. But the title of the book came from the line “In some lost place I had to find” because I thought it could be a very good title for the book.

Do you think the book could be published in Poland?
Yes, we are talking about it now. I have sold my overseas rights to my publisher and they paid me money a long time ago. I know that at present my publisher is negotiating with a Polish publisher. I hope that my book will be available for Polish readers soon.

interview made by Bartosz Andrzejewski
editing and translation: Karolina Andrzejewska


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