Climbing The Highest Point In 100 Countries
Lee Humphries’s love for walking in the hills and summiting high places has sent him on a personal mission to ascend high points, as well as low, across the world
At eleven years old, Lee Humphries was already hooked on climbing higher. He graduated from climbing the Shropshire hills to the highest points in England, Scotland and Wales before heading abroad.
It wasn’t until he planned to climb Korab (2,764m), the highest point in both Macedonia and Albania, in 2015, that he stopped to think how many country high points he had summited. After Korab it stood at 15 so he decided to try for 100, including all of Europe’s, as well as the highest mountains in Africa and South America.
As peak bagging goes, it’s a novel way to see some amazing places, and as Humphries points out, more people have stood on the moon than on the highest point of over 100 countries...
If you have a goal you’ve been putting off there is no time like the present to go and do it
You’re planning to climb the 6,962m Aconcagua as your 100th country high point – are you nervous about it?
‘It's the highest mountain in South America and the tallest on my list. Having climbed above 6,000m in Peru a few years ago, I know that just walking, let alone climbing is a totally different game altogether at that altitude. The mountain itself is not really that technical and I don’t doubt my own ability, so the only things that makes me nervous are those that are out of my control such as bad weather or altitude sickness.’
You must have come across some interesting wildlife in your travels?
‘I was recently bitten by a spider in Trinidad and Tobago while in the middle of the jungle, not that far from the highest point. The vegetation was getting very dense so I was pushing through it with both my arms and legs. I felt a nip on my left arm, I looked and saw two small dots that had started bleeding, Within seconds I felt a painful tingling aching sensation that started to run down my arm. It certainly made for an interesting one-armed steep descent hanging onto trees, but after 24 hours the pain had subsided!’
‘While sleeping under the stars in a bivvy bag in the Alps, I was woken up to the sight of a big long-horned Ibex taking great interest in my rucksack that I was using as a pillow.’
Does climbing change your perspective on how people are living their lives back at home?
‘When heading back to the UK after spending days on my own climbing a high point the first thing that usually hits me is just how much of a rush everyone seems to be in. Frantically hurrying here and there, everyone has their heads down looking at their phones, not taking the time to talk to one another or look at our surroundings.’
‘I often hear many people make plans or have grand ideas which never materialise. A book or video is no comparison to actually experiencing the world for yourself. So, if you have an aim or a goal that you have been putting off there is no time like the present to go and do it. As Paul Brandt said: “Don’t tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”’
To follow Lee Humphries’s progress to 100 high points visit 100countryhighpoints.com
Words: Matt Ray