“Champions know there are no shortcuts to the top. They climb the mountain one step at a time.” (J Adler)

While stunningly beautiful, Mt Blanc, Western Europe’s highest mountain, can be mercilessly tough, even for experienced climbers.

We were in awe, therefore, when we heard that Nicolas Cohen Addad, a Barclays Capital executive, was planning to climb it in support of Crossroads.

At 4810 metres, Mt Blanc defeats many climbers. Some call it, in fact, one of the deadliest peaks in the world.

As if that were not challenge enough, moreover, Nicolas chose the more difficult of the climbing options, starting at Aiguille du Midi then descending/ascending a series of peaks before reaching Mt Blanc itself.

We have now received details of his climb. They, quite frankly, leave us breathless. The photograph shows the series of ascents and descents needed to scale the various lesser peaks to the summit itself.
7am:    
Descended from Aiguille du Midi (3870m) to Col du    Midi (3542m). Rather like climbing points in a royal crown, he mastered a series of descents and ascents, steadily tracing the ridge to the summit
8am:
Up to Epaule du Tacul (4100m)
Down to Col Maudit (4035m)
Up to Breche Maudit (4400m)
Down to Col de la Brenva (4309m)
Up to Mur de la Cote (4640m)
1pm:   
On to Mont Blanc. (4807m)
5pm:  
Back to Aiguille du Midi

In that unforgettable day, he had spent 10 hours at an average altitude of 4175m, ascended a cumulative 2000m of positive climb, dealt with 50km/h winds and battled freezing conditions. The water in the hose of his camel bag had frozen.

Did he find it tough? Nicolas, whose Barclays colleagues had ‘sponsored’ his climb to raise funds for Crossroads, wrote: “Thinking of all the nice and generous people supporting this adventure was a key element to the success, especially when ascending the last 500m”. It didn’t, he added, “need much to get emotional at the top!”

Apparently, too, he’d like to try it again. “I only have one thing in mind now… to get back up there with my beloved wife Susan.”

His massive climb leaves us overwhelmed. During this period of economic challenge, many traditional sources of funding have dried up. So we are grateful, beyond words, for his originality in championing our cause in this extraordinary way and generating greatly needed funds.

Nicolas, we salute you!

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