Reaching new heights

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An intrepid Scout leader is among the first to ascend an unexplored mountain range in the Himalayas.

Caroline McCann, a Derbyshire-based outdoor instructor, was part of a three-strong British team that ascended Cha Ri mountain on 24 August.

Located deep in the Himalaya and the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and towering at 6046m, Cha Ri is part of a mountain range that has never been climbed or even visited before.

Alongside fellow Brits Douglas Briton and Matt Jones, Caroline began her ascent with official approval from the Indian Government.

‘We contacted the Indian Government, who controls access to the mountains in their part of the Himalayas,’ says Caroline. ‘They confirmed that the peaks we were interested in had no recorded summits. That led to some research about approach routes and feasibility and then we applied for our permits to climb last autumn.’

Top of the world

With potential dangers including rock falls and avalanches, the group had to figure out the safest possible route to climb before their adventure began. However, with clear weather on their side and all avalanches avoided, the ascent was achieved in a single 13-hour push.

‘Completing the climb was just a relief. We'd worked so hard to plan and organise it, and the summit day itself was one of the hardest mountain days I've ever done. 13 hours at high altitude on dangerous ground is not something I want to be doing regularly – it's exhausting both physically and mentally.’

Scouting spirit

Caroline started climbing as a Venture Scout with Lynx Venture Scout Unit in Hastings after constant encouragement from her leaders. From there she became an instructor and now she assesses for both climbing and hill-walking permits for her County and the Scafell Active Support Unit. She thanks Scouting for playing a major role in her amazing feat.

‘My Scouting experience helped this expedition in so many ways, from the straightforward skills of camping in harsh environments and navigating from less-than-perfect maps to the less obvious skills of perseverance, motivation, positive attitude and communication.’

She adds: ‘When I was a Scout, if someone had told me I'd have a first ascent in the Himalayas to my name then I'd have told them to get lost! It was hard, but it was by no means impossible, and it was worth every bit of effort we put in. The hardest thing now is to decide what's next.’

If you’re inspired by Caroline’s journey, get involved and begin your own Scouting adventure.

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