“We are digging ourselves into the side of the mountain at 6,800 meters and you’ve got the whole Karakorum just bathed in that blood red evening sunlight. Not once when I was growing up did I think that I was going to be in this position to experience that. And it is like you said – humans were not designed to be up there, it is not your natural progression and I feel very lucky to have that opportunity”
British alpinist Andy Houseman would probably describe himself as “just a regular guy who loves climbing”, but Andy with his team was nominated for the Piolet d’Or back in 2010 – and you don’t end up being nominated if you’re “just a normal guy”.
I first heard of Andy in #6 of Sidetracked Magazine and as he came to Stockholm for a stop of the North Face Speaker Series I decided to book an interview with him at the new hotel Downtown Camper by Scandic.
Andy grew up in Yorkshire and in our interview we talk about his childhood, what he learned in the boyscouts, about being inspired by books such as Joe Simpson’s This Game of Ghosts and getting a book about climbing from his math teacher. We talk about his view on life and mortality, about loosing friends to the mountains, about getting into climbing and his transition into alpinism and about his feeling for Chamonix.
“I don’t think there is any other place in the world where you can have such easy access to mountains. When I was there last summer with a mate we took the first téléphérique to ‘the plan’ and did the Frendo Spur which is a 1,000 meter fairly straight-forward north face route but really good fun and then got the lift back down to Chamonix by eleven ‘o clock in the morning having brunch…”
We talk about friendship and comradery in the mountains, about his expedition on Denali, having their basecamp robbed in Nepal, about the lure and attraction of the unknown and of course about the beauty of “type II fun”.
Oh, I also manage to ask Andy whether he sometimes feel like an asshole, so don’t miss this!
One of Andys many climbing projects was the Link Sar in the Karakorum range in Pakistan. They didn’t reach the main summit but topped out on the West Summit – this is all covered in the interview and we also talk about the dangers of summit fever with regards to this specific expedition.
Original photo © The North Face
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