Perthshire adventurer Mark Beaumont was forced to end his latest challenge prematurely due to avalanche fears on a remote Patagonian mountain.
Beaumont, who grew up in Bridge of Cally, was leading a team attempting to conquer Cerro San Valentin, the highest peak in the South American region shared by Argentina and Chile.
But with one of his companions injured and the risk factor escalating by the hour, he decided to put the brakes on the expedition a week into the climb.
“It is a very elusive and difficult mountain – no-one has summited it in recent years,” he said earlier this week from Chile. “Yet, being an optimist, I assumed our luck would be better. It is humbling to be found wanting.
“While there was a week of bad weather coming in which wouldn’t have been nice, the reason we turned back was bad conditions on the mountain.
“I have certainly been in worse weather, but have never crossed such broken and difficult glaciers before. It has been a hot summer here in Patagonia and the glaciers are very unstable and dangerous.
“There have been lots of avalanches and rockfall and we found some very exposed and unstable sections where if you slipped, you wouldn’t survive. So I made the decision that the risk was too high.
“Thankfully the rest of the team felt the same and we all turned back. One of my team-mates was also injured and that was another deciding factor.
“It is a great relief to be off the mountain but it was still another amazing adventure.”
Beaumont (30), who expects to be back in Perthshire in the next few days, had planned a three-week stay on the spectacular Patagonian icefields, three years after his ‘Cycling the Americas’ challenge last took him to South America.
“The climb would have been very long – San Valentin is only about 13,000ft high but it is seldom tried and normally unsuccessful, due to extreme weather,” he added. “As it lies only 30mi/50km from the Pacific Ocean, San Valentin gets hammered by 100mph storms bringing sleet and snow.”
The group started near sea level, requiring 4x4s, zodiac boats and hiking before they even got to the edge of the ice fields.
“Whilst it is not particularly high, the total climb is more than from Everest base camp to the summit and comparable with a climb of Denali in Alaska,” noted Beaumont who – supported by LDC, Kukri and Lifedge – was joined by fellow adventures Harry Kikstra from Holland, Jaime Viñal from Guatemala and Pable Trigub Clover from Argentina.