On Belay With ... Stuart Allan

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Feb 27, 2019

Welcome to "On Belay With..."! This is a series of short interviews with all sorts of folks involved in mountain medicine. Please get in touch if you'd like to take part!

Stuart Allan is a GP in Cumbria, Medical Officer for Kendal Mountain Rescue Team and Faculty Member of the DiMM (UK). His special interests include fell running, ultra running and mountain unicycling. Stuart has recently worked on a BBC Special Forces show and an upcoming documentary on Channel 4. As he's got older his new passions have included triathlon and BRECA (Google it!).

What was the last mountain you climbed? 

Alcock Tarn and Esthwaite Water from the summit of Stone Arthur

Stone Arthur (about 510 metres), last night. 8pm start with my 12 year old son for another Saturday night bivvy. Beautiful sunset: 'Bivvy TV' was working well.   

What does the perfect mountain day consist of? 

Covering rough ground quickly, with like-minded folk (usually my kids!), increasingly with a random swim across a tarn or two. Who's heard of the Frog Graham Round

What's been your worst mountain mishap? 

Picture this. A two day hike through the Andes, Southern Chile. Independent with girlfriend. Fishing boat got us across the lake to start. Left food in boat. All is not lost! We still had wine and an impressive amount of cheese in our packs (with some crackers!) Found a thermal spring, that evening. Wine, cheese, thermal spring. Nice. Next day, eating crumbs of crackers and remnants of cheese. Major, and quite impressive storm hit. Washed out trail 2 miles from end. 1 bus a day from trail head. No shops or B&B's available. Camping would be...unpleasant. Everything soaked, and cold.  Managed to talk a local living in an isolated cabin in the backwoods (!) to ferry us across another fjord to make the connection. Water almost at the gunwales. Should've drowned. 

What's been your best mountain day? 

Completing the Bob Graham Round. 62 miles, 8200 metres ascent, in under 24 hours. Enjoying the journey, pain and fun(!) with fell running friends. 

What mountain changed your life? 

The twin cracks on Hope

Not so much a mountain, but a climb. Hope V Diff, Idwal Slabs, with Nottingham University Mountaineering Club, age 18. Climbing the 'perilous twin cracks' in a dodgy pair of running shoes, and (almost) wetting myself on the descent. Hooked for life. 

What's been your best bit of mountain kit? 

My one person emergency bivvy bag. I've never had to use it, but it's the first thing to go in my pack when out fell running. One day it might save my life. Or someone else's... 

What makes a great climbing partner? Has anyone come close? 

Someone who appreciates the journey rather than the objective. Or put another way: sitting, cranking open a tinny at the stop of a 'diff', and is utterly happy that day has been spent on the hills. Lots. 

What's been your biggest mountain disappointment? 

I'm not sure I have one. Philosophically, the mountains are still there. Providing I can still get around and not die anytime soon, there'll be plenty more adventures. 

What is your "dream" mountain objective? 

Two projects at the moment: The Joss Naylor round, for next year (when I turn fifty), and the Frog Graham round this (?) year. 

Give us a mountain "tip"! 

Rediscover the mountains you know well with your kids (if you're lucky enough to have them). Remember the value of 'micro adventures'.

1 thought on “On Belay With ... Stuart Allan

Stuart Allan commented 2 years, 7 months ago
Hi Jeremy, Loved the photo of the 'cracks'. Felt the palpitations all over again. Look a lot smoother than when I did them in 1987! Also loved the photo from Stone Arthur- nostalgic for long Summer nights! Stu

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