Fearless Parents Take Toddler And Daughter, 7, Climbing Up 11,000ft Mountain
If you’re scared of heights, look away now. Why? Because two siblings have just broken records by reaching the summit of an almost 11,000ft mountain, and the pictures are absolutely jaw-dropping.
Jackson and Freya Houlding, aged three and seven respectively, climbed the vast Piz Badile on the border of Switzerland and Italy with their mum and dad, who happens to be a professional climber.
Leo Houlding, 40, led the family of four up the 10,853ft mountain on July 25, with three-year-old Jackson becoming the youngest person to get to the top and Freya becoming the youngest person to climb the mountain unaided.
Leo is used to climbing some of the most dangerous peaks on Earth, with his wife, 41-year-old Jessica, a GP, being an avid climber too. And now their two children are following in their footsteps, climbing the mountain 153 years to the day it was first climbed.
Speaking from Bregaglia, Switzerland, Leo praised both of his children for the ‘impressive’ achievement, adding that Freya – who just turned seven last week – climbed the whole thing by herself, ‘including all the hiking and everything’.
Jessica carried Jackson, who weighs about 15kg, on her back, while Leo carried all of the camping equipment and food, which weighed ‘a bit more’. ‘It’s a walk in the park for me,’ Leo said. ‘That’s why I went up with the kids – if needs be I could have carried them up on my own one at a time.’
We’ve done quite a bit of stuff in the UK and Europe in previous years, but every summer the kids are bigger and more capable than the past year. We did Triglav in Slovenia, but this was a league above that in terms of grandeur and difficulty.
If I was on my own, I could have run up it really quickly. I would do it in my hiking shoes without a rope… We paced it out because it’s a long walk up on the first day, and it’s a really beautiful place.
As you climb these peaks you go through different environments – you start in meadows with cow bells ringing, up through pine forests, then above the tree line into the Alpine realm of snow and rock. Then at the top you’re on a big pointy mountain and you can see for miles and miles, it has that big mountain feel – so we were in no rush.
Leo, who is an ambassador for Berghaus, described it as a ‘proper rock climb’ rather than a walk up a mountain, adding: ‘It’s a 1,000-metre long knife edge ridge and you’re using your hands the whole way, it’s a really long rock climb.’
He said that, while he was ‘conscious’ he and his family were on a ‘big adventure’ together, he ‘never felt [they] were in an unacceptable position’ and he ‘never thought [they] were out of [their] depth’.
However, he did say there is ‘always’ a risk of danger in the mountains, with potential hazards being falls, weather changes and rockfall. But Leo said they chose this climb in particular because ‘there is a lot less objective hazard’ and they could ‘control the risks’.
The Houlding family began their climb on July 25 and finished on July 27, taking their time to complete the route and spending one night in an alpine hut and another two in bivouacs.
Mum Jessica described the trip as ‘great’, saying they ‘keep upping the level each year’. She added: ‘It’s a huge achievement, especially for my daughter.’
Freya said she is ‘very proud’ of herself, adding: ‘I found it really fun and really scary.’ Jackson added: ‘It was really good, I enjoyed the bit I climbed on my own and the Haribo sweets.’
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