So, what did you do during the summer holidays? One young Castle Climber has already raised £26,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital climbing three alpine routes.
Samantha Breslauer has been climbing for over a year since she caught the climbing bug from her father, Keith. This year the father-daughter duo set their sights on three classic alpine climbs: the Aiguille de l'Index, Aiguille du Midi and the Dent du Geant. "Once seeing a picture of the mountain that my dad thought I could do, I immediately wanted to pursue it," said 14 year old Samantha. "I thought that it would be a really good way to raise money for charity whilst doing something I love. I have raised £26,000 including gift aid for Great Ormond Street Hospital. For the climb I trained at the Castle Climbing Centre twice a week as well as going running a few times a week to build up stamina. It was a lot harder than I expected as especially for Deant du Geant as I didn't expect there would be as long of a uphill walk before we even started the climb. On the climb I learnt that I had much more mental strength then I thought I had. I still had the determination to walk back fast enough so that we wouldn't have to sleep in a hut."
We're very proud of Samantha's achievement and wish her the best in her next challenges!
Here's a short video of their trip as well as their trip account with links to useful beta about the routes themselves. You can add your donation to Great Ormond Street Hospital via Samantha's donation page.
We set out with a primary goal to climb Dent du Géant (4,013m). To do so we felt we needed to do some warm-up climbing then spend at least a day in altitude with potentially a day at rest before the major summit. However, as we got closer to the time, the weather window seemed to close and it appeared that we would have 3 good days of weather so the key was to move fast and to beat the rain.
Day 1 – Aiguille de L’Index
The goal was to climb the Perroux route of Index in Flegere. This is not considered a very difficult climb but is a classic climb in that it is multi-pitch, between 6-8 pitches with 5b+ at the hardest. It is relatively sustained through most of the climb and it can be done in an afternoon. Despite it being her first time outdoors, Samantha did this pretty easily, although by the end of the day everybody was a little tired as we'd only flown in from Geneva the night before.
Day 2 – Cosmique Arête, Aiguille du Midi
This day was the day to climb high so that we could maximise time at altitude. The primary aim was to climb the Arête des Cosmiques during which essentially we would spend most of the day between 3,400 and 3,900m. An option, if we had time, was to climb the Eperon, but if we were going to do so we were going to need to abseil in and then climb the slab as we didn’t want to have to carry the boots up the wall. As the day progressed, we determined that the Arête itself was enough and it was a fantastic full day with some relatively easy climbing for Samantha's first time at altitude. On a funny note, there were an enormous amount of tourists in Chamonix and they were busy taking pictures of us on the ridge as we approached the top.
Day 3 – Big summit day – Dent du Geant
Our primary goal was not to sleep in the hut overnight and to do the climb in one day. We took the first tram at 6.30am on the Italian side on the brand new Courmayeur tram system. There was a long approach followed by a significant rock climb to the summit. Samantha did a fantastic job and reached the top at 11.30am which was then followed by a series of abseils back to the plateau and a fast march to the top of the tram where we finished by approximately 3.30pm. Throughout the day we were threatened with bad weather, and in fact the actual climb was in and out of cloud, but we climbed well and succeeded in the core goal.
With all the primary goals accomplished and rain projected for Sunday, we decided to come home early on the Sunday morning flight and spent the next day with a walk to do some very simple climbing on the Galliant of walls where we did a series of 6a+ pitches.