Leo Houlding: first expedition for the next generation

Posted by Emma Travers on 07/08/2020
The whole Houlding family at the summit .Photo: Houlding Collection
View 1 of 2

Professional explorer and climber Leo Houlding has marked his 40th birthday by introducing the next generation of his family to the kind of adventures that he has become renowned for. The Houlding family spent four-days climbing the iconic alpine peak Piz Badile, with his children becoming two of the youngest climbers to stand on the summit.

Leo Houlding has been climbing since the age of 10 and he is already a veteran of more than a dozen major expeditions that have taken him around the world, from the summit of Everest to remote Arctic and Antarctic peaks, via Yosemite, the jungles of South America and the Old Man of Hoy.

Leo and Jackson Houlding at camp during their adventure on Piz Badile. Photo: Houlding Collection

For his 40th birthday celebrations in the Alps, Leo was joined by his wife Jessica and their children, seven-year-old Freya and three-year-old Jackson. Freya, seven, climbed the 10,853ft (3,350m) peak herself, becoming the youngest person to do so unaided whilst three-year-old Jackson, who was carried in his mother's backpack, is believed to be the youngest to get to the top. Together, they spent four days on the round trip to climb the north ridge of Piz Badile, on the border of Switzerland and Italy, carrying all of their equipment and supplies, and staying overnight in alpine huts and bivouac shelters. 

Recalling the family outing, Leo recounts on his social media, "My beautiful Freya, who just turned seven a week ago, carried herself up and down the whole mountain up on her skinny little legs without any assistance! What a star. Little Jackson, three, had a bit of help from his Uber-Mum Jess who climbed with him harnessed up inside his carrier for most of the route although he broke free for a few pitches." 

READ: Rockaneering: Europe's best long rock routes

Leo adds, “I have always encouraged everyone to engage with adventure at any level and I'm very proud to be a trustee of the Outward Bound Trust, which last year introduced 30,000 young people from mainly underprivileged, urban backgrounds to the joy of outdoor action. As I’ve matured a bit and with a good deal of experience, I’m enjoying taking a mentoring role and sharing some of what I’ve learned with the next generation of adventure climbers, and of course my own kids.

“We were planning an excursion into the wilderness of the Wind River Range, Wyoming this summer but due to USA travel restrictions we changed plans to a campervan trip around the Alps. The north ridge of the Piz Badile is unique in its astounding quality, great length and lack of objectives hazards. I was confident that if we had a stable weather window, we could make a family ascent and lucked out that the good spell saw us summit on my birthday. Watching the dawn above the clouds, surrounded by everything I love the most was magical. It was a very special family adventure – as important and memorable as anything that I have done before.”

The Houlding family in the bivouac hut near the summit of Piz Badile 

Leo Houlding secured his first sponsorship deal with Berghaus when only 17 and has been one of the company’s key brand ambassadors ever since, alongside the likes of fellow of fellow climbers Sir Chris Bonington, Mick Fowler, and, more recently, Anna Taylor. Leo completed a range of spectacular climbing expeditions of the last 20 years, which have included new routes and first ascents such as The Prophet on El Capitan in Yosemite, on remote peaks Ulvetanna and the Spectre in Antarctica, Mount Asgard on Baffin Island, and, late last year, the Prow of Roraima in Guyana.

WATCH: How to climb Napes Needle with Leo Houlding on BMC TV

Leo has also climbed extensively in the UK, from locations near his home in the Lake District, to classic routes in Wales and Scotland. For many years, he was the youngest person to have scaled the Old Man of Hoy on Orkney, which he first climbed at the age of 11. In 2014, he returned to the famous sea stack with Sir Chris Bonington. Almost 50 years after Sir Chris made the first ascent of the Old Man, they marked his 80th birthday by climbing it again together. In his most recent major expedition, late in 2019, Leo led a team to successfully complete the first free climb of a route on the Prow of Roraima in Guyana. He invited 21-year-old Anna Taylor to join his crew, introducing another generation to the world of big wall climbing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This proud Dad celebrated his 40th birthday in the summit Bivi hut of the Piz Badile, (3308m) following a family ascent of the 1000m North ridge, the finest route of its grade I've yet to climb. My beautiful Freya, who just turned 7 a week ago, carried herself up and down the whole mountain up on her skinny little legs without any assistance! What a star. Little Jackson, 3 had a bit of help from his Uber-Mum Jess who climbed with him harnessed up inside his carrier for most of the route although he broke free for a few pitches. We paced it out over 4 days, a gruelling 6 hour hike up the new trail to the immaculate and welcoming Sasc Fura Hut, a shorter day with a bit of scrambling to an awesome bivi spot on the shoulder beneath the start of the climb, the massive and continously brilliant rock climb to the wildly exposed summit bivi hut and finally half a dozen abseils and long descent into the beautiful Val Masino valley where Jess and I spent our honeymoon 14 years ago. Employing tactics usually resevered for more extreme ascents I first led with a heavy bag then rapped down and we all climbed the fixed rope on micro-traxions enabling us to climb together and allowing me to show Freya the hidden fairy staircase. Huge kisses to @jesscorrie for being the most amazing wife and mother, to Freya and Jackson for being such brave, strong children and to the weather gods for granting us the stable forecast we needed for our family outing. #familyfun #Bregaglia #kidsarestrongerthanyouthink #socialdistancing #pizbadile

A post shared by Leo Houlding (@leo_houlding) on


We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.

Did you know that we've just launched a new U27 membership offer for just £1 / month? And with full membership from £1.66 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/join-the-bmc-for-1-month-U27-membership


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 9344 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Leo Houlding snow-kiting Antarctica and the Organ Pipe Peaks
0
Leo Houlding snow-kiting Antarctica and the Organ Pipe Peaks

Leo Houlding is currently in Antarctica with Jean Burgun, an alpinist and cutting edge snow-kiter from the French Alps who ‘kites to ascend low technicality alpine climbs in minutes’, and Mark Sedon, a filmmaker and experienced mountain guide from New Zealand. They are three weeks into a three month trip. The plan is a 2000km traverse of the continent using traditional sledge-hauling on cross country skis, but with a modern twist - snow kites to help pull them along. The trip also has a climbing objective: the team are currently exploring the Organ Pipe Peaks in the Gothic Mountains.
Read more »

Andreas Steindl runs five 4000m peaks from Zermatt to Saas Fee in 07h45
0
Andreas Steindl runs five 4000m peaks from Zermatt to Saas Fee in 07h45

Swiss alpinist Andreas Steindl (26) has ticked off a very impressive speed crossing. He ran 30.66km from Zermatt to Saas Fee across five 4000m peaks (including the Dom, the highest mountain lying entirely in Switzerland) on pathless terrain, glaciers and exposed ridges in 7 hours, 45 minutes and 44 seconds.
Read more »

Leo Houlding and team succeed on Mirror Wall in Greenland
0
Leo Houlding and team succeed on Mirror Wall in Greenland

Despite challenging conditions including illness, crevasse falls, storms and plundering polar bears, Leo Houlding and a small team of Brits have climbed a new line on an epic 1,200m granite big wall in Arctic Greenland. Leo described Mirror Wall as: "A beautiful tombstone of glass-smooth granite, taller than El Capitan’s Dawn Wall and set in this pristine but harsh Arctic wilderness."
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Leo Houlding snow-kiting Antarctica and the Organ Pipe Peaks
0

Leo Houlding is currently in Antarctica with Jean Burgun, an alpinist and cutting edge snow-kiter from the French Alps who ‘kites to ascend low technicality alpine climbs in minutes’, and Mark Sedon, a filmmaker and experienced mountain guide from New Zealand. They are three weeks into a three month trip. The plan is a 2000km traverse of the continent using traditional sledge-hauling on cross country skis, but with a modern twist - snow kites to help pull them along. The trip also has a climbing objective: the team are currently exploring the Organ Pipe Peaks in the Gothic Mountains.
Read more »

Andreas Steindl runs five 4000m peaks from Zermatt to Saas Fee in 07h45
0

Swiss alpinist Andreas Steindl (26) has ticked off a very impressive speed crossing. He ran 30.66km from Zermatt to Saas Fee across five 4000m peaks (including the Dom, the highest mountain lying entirely in Switzerland) on pathless terrain, glaciers and exposed ridges in 7 hours, 45 minutes and 44 seconds.
Read more »

Leo Houlding and team succeed on Mirror Wall in Greenland
0

Despite challenging conditions including illness, crevasse falls, storms and plundering polar bears, Leo Houlding and a small team of Brits have climbed a new line on an epic 1,200m granite big wall in Arctic Greenland. Leo described Mirror Wall as: "A beautiful tombstone of glass-smooth granite, taller than El Capitan’s Dawn Wall and set in this pristine but harsh Arctic wilderness."
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »