Leo Houlding, 40, led the family of four up the 10,853ft mountain on July 25, with three-year-old Jackson becoming the youngest person to get to the top and Freya becoming the youngest person to climb the mountain unaided.
The 40-year-old is used to climbing some of the most dangerous peaks on Earth, with his wife, Jessica, 41, a GP, and an avid climber too. Now their two children are following in their footsteps, climbing the mountain 153 years to the day it was first climbed.
Leo praised both of his children for the ‘impressive’ achievement, adding that his daughter Freya climbed the whole thing by herself, including all the hiking and everything.
Jessica carried Jackson on her back, who weighs about 15kg while Leo carried all of the camping equipment and food, which weighed a bit more. “It’s a walk in the park for me,” Leo said. “That’s why I went up with the kids – if needs be I could have carried them up on my own one at a time.”
“We’ve done quite a bit of stuff in the UK and Europe in previous years, but every summer the kids are bigger and more capable than the past year. We did Triglav in Slovenia, but this was a league above that in terms of grandeur and difficulty.”
“If I was on my own, I could have run up it really quickly. I would do it in my hiking shoes without a rope… We paced it out because it’s a long walk up on the first day, and it’s a really beautiful place.”
“As you climb these peaks you go through different environments – you start in meadows with cow bells ringing, up through pine forests, then above the tree line into the Alpine realm of snow and rock. Then at the top you’re on a big pointy mountain and you can see for miles and miles, it has that big mountain feel – so we were in no rush.”
Leo is an ambassador for Berghaus. The professional climber described it as a ‘proper rock climb’ rather than a walk up a mountain.
“It’s a 1,000-metre long knife-edge ridge and you’re using your hands the whole way, it’s a really long rock climb.”
On the other hand, he admitted that there is always’ risk of danger in the mountains, with potential hazards being falls, weather changes, and rockfall. But Leo said they chose this climb in particular because ‘there is a lot less objective hazard’ and they could ‘control the risks.
The Houlding family began their climb on July 25 and finished on July 27, taking their time to complete the route and spending one night in an alpine hut and another two in bivouacs.