Kenton Cool has climbed Everest eleven times, including twice in one week, and is recognised as one of the best climbers of his generation.

Ice climbing in Alaska - credit Ian Parnell

Photo: Ian Parnell

Kenton Cool made a telephone call and tweeted from the top of Everest, and to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain in 2013, he climbed Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse in a single expedition, gaining and losing 10km in altitude in just 120 hours and spending dangerous hours in the low oxygen “Death Zone”.

The effort required so much energy he returned two-stone lighter. Yet his first mountain summit was in Wales, his first rock climb in Dorset, and 20 years ago a fall shattered both his ankles. He was told he’d never walk again, and still carries a limp, but he’s gone on to become a hero of high places.

1) “A new line is what it’s all about, first ascents, there’s so much still to do in the climbing world. It’s a very rich hunting ground for adventure. As a climber, I get drawn to these strong, bold lines. Riccardo Cassin once famously said that if he were to drop a water droplet from the summit, the line that it would take would be the line that he wanted to climb.”

2) “The first mountain I climbed was a tiny hill in North Wales called Moel Siabod and I was 14 or 15, and it rained all the way up. I was wearing cotton tracksuit bottoms and they were down by my knees! We were all boy scouts at the time, stood on the top in this low mist, not being able to see anything but finding it totally exhilarating. My first rock climb was a day of abject terror at Swanage in Dorset. The fact I came home alive was a triumph, it was utterly terrifying.”

3) “I love climbing in the Scottish Highlands, certainly in winter, and North Wales has some of the best climbing in the world. But the Himalayas are where my passion lies, and I love exploring there.”

4) “I have been known to cut all the tags out of my clothing to save weight, yet I sneak in my teddy bear called Stripey, a yellow and green mouse that I’ve had all my life. It’s completely foolish because it must weigh a few hundred grammes. One of the reasons I take him is because no matter how bad a situation is, when I’m snuggled in my sleeping bag and close my eyes, I can pretend to be almost anywhere else in the world other than where I am …. good if it’s all gone pear shaped.”

5) “In my 11 climbs of Everest I have never stood on the true summit. The true summit is actually very small, and drops steeply on all sides; it’s only about the size of a breakfast tray. I have touched it, but I

have never stood on it. I don’t want to conquer Everest. You can stand on the top but she won’t submit to you

even if you did.”