This morning, at 2.30am, Sophie slipped in the toilets of the Tete Rousse hut and badly knocked her thigh. The shock and pain forced us to rethink our Mont Blanc summit attempt. A worry at the back of both our minds was ‘what would everyone say?’. Thank you for being so understanding and supportive.

An awesome team for Mont Blanc

An awesome team for Mont Blanc

Processing the Alpine Coast to Coast

As I lie in bed and write this post, it’s hard to process everything that has gone on in the last 22 days. We’ve been through 7 different countries, climbed 5 stunning mountains, and shared the most magical moments. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the Alpine Coast to Coast and, with the end so tantalisingly close, hurry through the last stage.

The mountains often have their own ideas and, at 4810m, Mont Blanc’s ideas can be pretty powerful. We had a bold plan of climbing through the night and up to the summit of Mont Blanc by dawn in one push, over 3800m of ascent in one go. Huge. Maybe not something to try after 3 weeks of push, push, push.

The mean step

The mean step

Clear signs – What happened on Mont Blanc

We set off at 8.30pm with 4 friends and were full of excitement. This was the first climb we would share with other people and we were both secretly glad to have the company and support. We were making good progress but I could sense that something wasn’t 100% with Sophie. The things she was talking about, maybe a look in her eye, something wasn’t there that needed to be for this.

It was 2.30am when we reached the Tete Rousse hut at 3176m and all of us were flagging. We had all had a busy day before setting off on the climb and were approaching 20 hours of being awake.

We entered the hut to change our gear and get in the warm when, all of a sudden, Sophie tripped on the step and fell onto a very sharp edge of the door frame. Instantly I knew it was bad and started going through the process in my mind of calling mountain rescue to get her down and to hospital.

Thankfully I’m just an over-worrying husband

It was a serious knock that would leave a bad bruise but nothing was broken and it would heal with a little rest. However, it completely took the wind out of Sophie’s sails. The tears in her eyes couldn’t mask the disappointment yet relief at being able to say ‘enough is enough, today’.

We had 4 hours until dawn and we could safely descend to the tram station and get off the hill and so we bedded down in the dining room of the hut and tried to get some sleep.

Thank you for your support

I didn’t sleep. Not a wink. I just lay back and thought about everything; about how strong Sophie is; how brave; and how proud of her I am. How I am so lucky to share such incredible experiences with the woman I love, and how all that matters is that she is not just safe but feels safe. She has pushed herself further than either of us have thought possible but everyone has their limits on a given day. We found today’s limit, a limit she will no doubt cruise past on another day but today, a limit that we had to respect and heed.

It is easy to get caught up in the great leaps and bounds we’ve been making but we are only human, we get tired, and we need proper breaks. Even Sophie! There is no doubt in my mind that the decision to stop there was the right thing to do. We will be back in a few days to try again, and this time we will make sure we are 100% there, ready, and in the moment to give it our all.

I am very proud that we made the difficult decision to stop. No matter how right, it is difficult to put your hand up and say, enough is enough. What would you, our readers, say? Twitter? Friends and family?

Already, the words of support that have come in have warmed our hearts, and filled our souls. We are very privileged, to not just be on such an amazing adventure, but to have such an incredible support network in all our supporters.

As we lick our wounds, eat copious amounts of chocolate, and indulge in a beer or two, we are so very happy and grateful to be doing what we’re doing and to have you guys along for the ride.

Thank you for your support

Thank you for your support


by Charley Radcliffe

8 Responses to “Thank you for your support”

  1. James

    No one ever conquers a mountain, you just show it enough respect that it allows you to reach the summit. Knowing when to turn back earns you good grace with the mountain, I’m sure of it. Like you say, sometimes the mountain has other ideas…and sometimes they even know best! No doubt, with a few days rest, you and Sophie will march to the top of Mont Blanc and the end of an incredible journey, and you will enjoy it all the more being fresh, rested and 100% in the moment. Speedy recovery to Sophie and looking forward to your summit photo sometime soon.

  2. Line Stump- Magnin

    Hear , hear, it is a good thing you still listen to yourselves and to nature .. it is the way to go on such hills .. no fooling around with mountains , they sometimes can swallow you in one flash of a second..
    Sophie you and your husband have dun a wonderful trip so far and so fast… I was actually wondering if you would listen to nature and obey it’s rule … maybe this sign was also to protect you from something that could of gone wrong at this time of the day.
    Have a good rest and I’m sure you will both
    make it up top….

  3. George Muir

    Hi Charley, its good to read this – I admire chiefs of staff. Leo McGarry et al.
    All the best, George

  4. Stuart

    Agree with all the above comments – it wasn’t to be that time. Take it easy and enjoy the beer and chocolate! Good luck for Sunday – and take care. I hope Sophie will be recovered. I’ll be watching from a distance – i can see Mt Blanc from my terrace just outside Geneva – will be sending you energy and best thoughts!
    PS Why did you have to choose the summer of 2014 to do this!? It’s the worst summer we’ve had for a very long time!

    • Charley Radcliffe

      Thanks Stuart. We chose this summer as you’ve got to do it some time and there will always be a reason to push it back. Now was the right time for us and, though the weather hasn’t been ideal, we’ve played it sensible and safe in the mountains. It all adds to the adventure!


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