climbsNorman's training for high altitude began in 1969 with a punishing solo 874 mile walk from John o' Groats to Land's End (repeated in 1990 with his wife Jude). He then made a score of ascents in the Alps, including the Matterhorn, the Eiger and Mont Blanc. In 1978 he led a successful expedition to Peru, where he and his team ascended three mountains, including the north summit of the country's highest mountain, Huascaran, (6,654m - 21,830ft).
In 1981 he reached the top of his first Himalayan peak, White Needle (6,706m - 22,000ft) in Kashmir. The same year, on an expedition to Argentina, he seemed faced with failure when his left artificial leg broke because of metal fatigue, yet he set off on one leg to crawl and walk on crutches to the top of a mountain of 5,115m (16,801ft)! The next year he succeeded on Muztagh Ata (7,546m - 24,757ft) in China. His ascents of mountains in excess of 2,500m (8,200ft) number over one hundred, including sixteen above 6,000 (19,680ft).
Norman's first attempt at an 8,000 metre peak ended when he was injured by a falling rock. On his second try, the leader of a commercial expedition, having accepted fees to organise an expedition supposedly for the benefit of his clients, proceeded to the summit with a sherpa, without giving an opportunity to any clients. Norman's third attempt ended at about 7,600m (25,00ft) because of frostbite. Not being one to give up easily, without bottled oxygen, he climbed the sixth highest mountain in the world, Cho Oyo in Tibet, which stands at 8,201m (26,906ft). On the descent he survived a night out at 7,800m without a tent or sleeping bag, by removing his legs and sliding inside his large, lightweight rucksack.
"This produced the season's most outstanding ascent of the mountain and indeed one of the most outstanding in Nepal/Tibet when Norman reached the summit with his Sherpa companion." High Magazine
In the Himalayas, Karakoram, Andes, Alps, Africa, China and the Canadian Rockies, Norman encountered the usual risks of mountaineering, including huge rockfalls, crevasses, frostbite, extreme winds, avalanches, high altitude sickness and many other health hazards. Norman says, "If you push yourself to the limits you must have the courage to fail sometimes, for sound reasons, not excuses. Anyone with an extreme ambition will probably have to deal with the big D - disappointment - at times. You just have to keep in shape, mentally and physically, and get up and go again."
There were inevitably failures through bad weather, avalanche and stonefall risk, and he has turned back to escort down sick, exhausted or frightened companions, including one snowblind companion from 6,000 metres. Unlike other mountaineers he has suffered metal fatigue in one leg, yet on the other continued to climb to the top of a mountain of 5,000 metres.
"Not being one to give up easily, without bottled oxygen, Norman climbed the sixth highest mountain in the world, Cho Oyo in Tibet, which stands at 8,201m (26,906ft)."
bookingsTo book Norman for a talk or lecture, please visit The Right Address or call +44 1895 827 800.
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