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10 adventurers on their trip of a lifetime

For a start, there was all the preparation: I spent every evening for several weeks running up the 55 steps of York’s Clifford Tower carrying a rucksack full of tinned dog food. It was just the thing to start forming some powerful memories, essential if a trip is going to be laid down as “the ultimate”. The load was meant to toughen me up for high-altitude exertion: I was planning an ascent of Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo, a 6,263-metre summit that sits on the equator and is the furthest a human being can get from the centre of the Earth without flying.

When I got to Ecuador, however, and went out for my first walk, at about 3,000 metres above sea level, I suddenly passed out. Had I forgotten to take the Chappie cans out of my bag? No. Maybe I wasn’t fit enough? Doubts crept in. The next step was to climb Cayambe, a 5,790-metre volcanic peak east of Quito: this task now took on an extra frisson of excitement.

Kevin Rushby ascends Chimborazo

I’d made the mistake of reading Joe Simpson’s book Touching the Void the night before, which didn’t help when we had to leap across a two-metre crevasse. You could feel the dead chill air reaching up out of the blackness below. My guide, the imperturbable Estalin Suarez, assured me he could rescue anyone from down there within half an hour. I decided that might be too long to hang around and cleared the obstacle. The reward was an astounding panorama of the Andes. Chimborazo, when we tackled it, was a brutal slog up a steep slope of sheer ice to a view of … nothing. I’d been so slow that the clear skies of dawn had bunked off.

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