Alan Hinkes is the first Briton to climb the world’s highest mountains. These are the 14 8000m peaks, all of which are in the ‘death zone’, where human survival rate is measured in hours. They are the most dangerous mountains on the planet. Alan is part of an exclusive club of only 12 people alive who have achieved this feat, which is the same number of people who have stood on the moon. Many have perished attempting this challenge.
He works as an outdoor equipment technical consultant, writes for magazines and lectures on his exploits. He is an accomplished cameraman (filming 11 documentaries), photographer, author, motivational speaker, environmentalist and mountain guide. His book 8000 Metres Climbing the World’s Highest Mountains won TGO Awards Outdoor Book of the Year.
1. Usually We’d ask for an introduction, but none needed so; How do you like to be referred to? The first Brit to scale all 8000m peaks? British Mountaineer? Or simply, a charismatic Yorkshireman that loves the outdoors?
All of the above & Mountain Guide IFMGA
2. You must have been asked countless times what it was that got you interested in the outdoors but, what is it that has made that interest stick?
Love of adventure, fresh air, ‘wild places’, challenge – teachers from Northallerton grammar School 1st took me out in N York Moors & Lake District. If you cut me in half it would say: mountain climber/climber/hill walker. I love being in the hills.
3. Aside from your fantastic success on the 8000m peaks, what have been your other favourite and or/most testing ascents?
The North Face of The Eiger, first ascents on 6000m peaks in the Himalaya, Tein Shan, Andes etc
4. For those that aren’t able to self fund, or find sponsorship to tackle the world’s tallest mountains, could you perhaps recommend a more accessible, yet challenging summit to aim for?
There’s plenty to do in the UK. Just enjoy the hills – go on multi day walks/treks. I’ve also just returned from The Fjallraven Classic in the Arctic, Nortj Sweden. It was a 110km trek through Tundra & mountain terrain – enjoyable & challenging. There are a lot of less taxing 5000m & 6000m summits – check out Jagged Globe trips & other Adventure Companiess, eg KE.
5. It’s well noted that you also love walking and climbing in the UK, what would your favourite long weekend entail?
Spent in Yorkshire or The Lakes – not to mention North Wales, Scotland or the Derbyshire Dales. Scrambling, rock climbing or a good fell walk. Could even be an ice climb in winter. Then a decent pub with cask conditioned beer (real ale). Or just a bimble up Roseberry Topping.
6. There seems to have been a few serious incidents in the UK this year already, and with winter approaching there may well be more (unfortunately). Given your experience in some of the most dangerous places on earth, what would you advice be to those wishing to get out in the UK?
Try and get experience (‘serve an apprenticeship’). Don’t expect to buy all the gear, ie. ice axe, crampons and expect it to get you out of trouble – learn the skills. Never underestimate the hills, avoid complacency. Be aware of the risk and danger, and be prepared to retreat. See ‘Incident Pit’ in my book… and take a torch.
7. I know you’re eloquently straight forward in answering questions at times – could you summarise your thoughts on this sensitive subject? In terms of navigation, map and compass or GPS?
Map & compass skill is essential. GPS is fun and can help but if it crashes or batteries fail…
8. Word is that aside from the hills, you’re also a fan on fine food and ale – what is your favourite place to eat after a long day on the hill?
Yes I’m a believer in natural, unprocessed food; preferably organic & local. Less is more. Probably got to cook my own, with a fine bottle of red or bottle conditioned beer. There are some good places to eat out in Yorkshire & Cumbria , you need to hunt them out.
9. When out and about in the UK, where do you tend to stay? Are you a wild camper or a hostel/B&B man?
I do camp in the UK. I was in the Outer Hebs & St Kilda this year. I’m in a few Climbing Clubs and we have huts (like cottages) I stay in. I also stop in a lot of Youth Hostels – I’m an Ambassador for YHA. In Yorkshire and the Lakes, there are loads of super Hostels. Borrowdale, Ambleside, Black Sail, in the Lakes. Grinton, Malham, Boggle Hole, etc in Yorkshire. Pen y Pass in North Wales. There are many more.
10. Do you have any plans for any further adventurous ascents anywhere in the world?
Lots more adventures to come…