Leo Houlding talk for RGS – 20 May 2013

Leo Houlding will be giving a talk for the RGS on his recent exploits in Antarctica – see the RGS facebook page for more details on location, cost, etc.




The Royal Geographical Society is pleased to welcome extreme climber and adventurer Leo Houlding to speak on “The Great Mountains: from Venezuela to Antarctica”. In this lecture, leading mountaineer Leo Houlding recounts the dramatic stories of his most recent two expeditions, first to Venezuela where he travelled through the Amazon jungles to make the first ascent of the sacred mountain of Autana and then his 2013 expedition to the Antarctic to scale the unclimbed “wolf’s tooth” route of the glorious Ulvetanna Peak. An articulate communicator and star of five mountain films, Mr Houlding has captivated and inspired audiences around the world with tales of his exploits at the extremes of the world.

The great mountain of Cerro Autana is a spectacular quartzite–sandstone “Tepuy” situated deep in the jungle in the state of Amazonas in eastern Venezuela. The local Piaroa Indians revere it as the stump of the tree of life from which the fruits of all life grew. For the ascent, which initially required lengthy trekking through the depths of the Amazon jungle in Venezuela, Mr Houlding chose a close knit team of climbers, local “fixers” and an expedition film crew for the complex and ambitious expedition.

Because of its sacred status and close proximity to the porous Colombian border, access to Autana is prohibited and very difficult to secure on both a national and local level. To even begin this epic adventure the team needed to seek blessing from the local shaman and partake in a memorable “Yopo” traditional hallucinogenic tribal ceremony. From this point onwards the epic journey leading to the first ascent was one of challenge, endurance, encounters with tropical creatures, exhilarating views and extreme heights in an expedition reminiscent of “the lost world”.

Following the Autana success, Leo Houlding led an international team to success in the first ascent of the north east ridge of the remarkable Antarctic mountain, Ulvetanna. Widely considered to be the most demanding peak on the harshest continent, the mile long ridge had been described as “the last great climb”, which involved a week hanging to the wall without supplies.

Ulvetanna (“the wolf’s tooth” in Norwegian) is the jewel in the crown of the FenrisKjefeten (“the wolf’s jaw”) range of mountains of Queen Maud Land, eastern Antarctica. After months of preparation, the expedition began in December 2012. Mr Houlding and his team reached the summit of the mountain on Wednesday 23 January 2013 in the worst conditions of the expedition, with the temperature at -35C and in high winds. It then took a gruelling two days for the team to descend the mountain.

Leo Houlding hails from Britain and started climbing in 1990 at the age of 10. Immediately recognised as a prodigy, just 6 months later he made the youngest ascent of the famous Scottish sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy. Following many new routes in North Wales at 18 he went to Yosemite, California, making the youngest free ascent of El Nino, widely regarded to be the most influential cliff in the world, the first of many successful expeditions at Yosemite. Since then, Mr Houlding has achieved fame for bold ascents, audacious stunts and ambitious firsts around the world. He is a veteran of a score of epic ascents including Mt Everest but specializes in free climbing the most technical peaks and biggest walls in the world.

Leo Houlding has also starred in five documentary movies, all of which have won awards. He has also had frequent television appearances, including on the BBC’s Top Gear, his own show on Virgin One “Take Me To The Edge” and an IMAX movie released in 2010: “The Wildest Dream”. This film retraced the mystery of last steps of Mallory and Irvine on their fateful expedition to Everest in 1924 and the resulting drama-documentary was released in cinemas worldwide. In 2009, he produced and featured in the multi award-winning movie “The Asgard Project”, an epic arctic adventure to free climb a 1,400 metre tower of granite on
Mount Asgard, in the remote glacial region of Baffin Island in Arctic Canada, achieved despite brutal weather.

Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$150 for Members and HK$200 for guests and others.

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taura edgar

see you all tonight!