Our MD Stephen Byram, spoke to the Yorkshire Post to explain his love of the mountains.
You can read it in full here...
When my children were really young, we used to go on beach holidays. Then when they started in their teens, I discovered my passion for skiing and our relaxing breaks went out of the window. They always used to joke that we never went on ‘normal’ holidays anymore like their friends. Now, they’re all in their twenties, and they love it as much as I do.
We’ve skied all over Europe, in France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, and have done a couple of trips to Canada too. Now, my favourite place to ski is in St Gervais in the French Alps. We have a chalet there and it’s where I spend as much time as I can during the winter months.
But skiing was just the start of my appreciation for the mountains. In the many weeks and months spent in St Gervais converting what was an unloved and run-down farmhouse into a modern chalet, I met a mountain guide, who sparked my interest in exploring even more of what the Alps had to offer.
I started getting more adventurous with my skiing — going on whole days of off-piste expeditions. I’ll never forget doing the Vallee Blanche with my family. A 20km ski route, which can only be accessed by walking down a narrow icy ridge down the side of the valley. I thought my three girls were going to kill me when they saw it!
I also started ice climbing, biking and walking, but in 2014, I set myself my first real challenge — climbing the highest peak in Europe. Our chalet is overlooked by Mont Blanc, and I had been telling myself I wanted to do it for two years. So, myself and my mountain guide friend spent two weeks traversing various mountains and staying in refuges along the way. It takes lots of mental strength and a good bit of stamina to keep going, but the feeling when you get to the peak is indescribable.
And before long, I was planning my next trip — in the Chulu Far East region in Nepal with my youngest daughter Hannah and French guide Martin.
We arrived in Kathmandu in Nepal in October 2015, just a few months after the Nepalese earthquake. We quickly realised that most locals’ livelihoods had been destroyed in the devastation. So when tourists did visit, the work was shared out. This meant we had 10 Sherpas/porters looking after us — not that this made it a luxurious trip. We were often eating boiled chicken feet for two weeks!
Making the final ascent from 5000m to the 6000m summit was easily one of the hardest things I’d ever done, with each one of us experiencing altitude sickness, including difficulty breathing, irritability and nausea.
Before this trip I had plans to summit Everest, but that idea is on the back burner — at least for now!
My most recent trek was a week’s ski touring of the Haute Route from Chamonix in France, to Zermatt in Switzerland. This involved strenuous walking up terrains of off-piste on and sleeping in refuges before skiing back down and doing it all over again.
I think I will always be passionate about the mountains — it’s a place where you can often forget about everything else, blow away the cobwebs and go on an adventure. My mind is already thinking about my next trip, and I’m delighted I’ve passed this love on to my three daughters.