Mountain tackled by Weymouth rugby duo

NO HOLIDAY ON ICE: Alan Russell and Conrad Cole

At the foot of the glacier

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

TWO former Weymouth rugby players tackled glaciers, crevasses and avalanches on a charity trek.

Friends Conrad Cole, 60, and Alan Russell, 46, were challenged to take on a mountaineering expedition up Mont Blanc, which is Western Europe’s highest mountain.

The duo were challenged by Clive Burgess, co-founder of Dorset Expeditionary Society after hearing them talking about old times.

He said: “I threw the gauntlet down to these two as they were reminiscing over some of their past rugby glories.

“A game of rugby is only 80 minutes unlike 12 hour days plus on a mountain. “To my surprise they rose to the challenge.”

The pair were led by Dorset Expeditionary Society leaders, Ollie Bray and Clive Burgess. They trained hard to take on the challenge and had to learn a new skill set including crevasse rescue, walking with crampons, arresting a fall using an ice axe and roping up on a glacier.

Mr Cole said: “It was one of the toughest challenges of my life. On the very first morning for instance, we had to go down a series of metal ladders for a couple of hundred feet un-roped to just to reach the Mer de Glace glacier where we did some training.”

To acclimatize, the group went increasingly higher each day developing their skills, learning others in new and challenging surroundings including a tough day on the Argentiere glacier.

Due to poor conditions the team were unable to attempt Mont Blanc in the end but expedition leader Ollie Bray said they did ‘really well.’ He said: “Fortunately we were able to give Conrad and Alan a real mountaineering experience. They had to learn new skills and put them quickly into practice in some technically demanding situations.

“They did really well.”

Mr Russell said the trip was an emotional rollercoaster.

He said: “On one occasion we heard a terrifying crash as thousands of tons of rock came crashing onto the glacier. Minutes earlier we had been walking there.”

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