An adventurous Nidderdale man has returned to the Dale after a three-month long journey that took him half way around the world and saw him raise thousands for a district charity.
Richard Fountain, 45, travelled overland to Ecuador to climb the Chimborazo volcano, and raised £2500 in sponsorship for Henshaws Society for Blind People in the process.
He has worked all over the world, Richard said, often returning to his home in Nidderdale and work at Henshaws so he decided to raise money for the charity as a way of thanking them for their support over the years.
His epic trip began in September last year when he boarded the number 24 bus from Pateley Bridge to Harrogate before travelling half way around the world without setting foot on an aeroplane. An old friend who works as a shipping agent helped him find places on two different ships, the first travelling from Tilbury in Essex to West Africa, and the second for West Africa on to Brazil.
After around five weeks at sea Richard arrived in South America and set off northwards through Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru before arriving in Ecuador ready to acclimatise for the climb.
Chimborazo’ peak is the point in the earth’s surface that is the furthest away from the earth’s core, meaning that reaching the summit is a special achievement for climbers.
“It’s a geographical quirk that means you cannot get any closer to the stars,” Richard said.
He spent time getting used to Ecuador’s high altitude thin air before joining forces with two other climbers and two guides to make their attempt on the volcano’s summit, setting off in the dead of night in order the reach the summit in time for sunrise.
The timings were chosen for practical reasons, as the snow covering the slopes of the mountains mean that once the sun rises high into the sky the glare makes it impossible to climb safely.
The eight hour trek went “remarkably smoothly”, Richard said, despite bad weather.
“The weather conditions were atrocious, and it was practically a white out. We only had about ten minutes at the summit, but I had time to get a picture of me shivering in the snow with a Yorkshire flag.”
After the successful climb it was time for Richard to get on a plane and take a faster route back to Nidderdale in time for his return to work at Henshaws over Christmas, and looking back on the trip he said he was numerous highlights.
“Climbing the mountain was great, and it was nice to catch up with an old colleague from Henshaws – Jo Belton de Fabre – who lives in Ecuador now. I liked Eastern Bolivia as well, and I travelled through the Chaco – the desert – where I’ve never been before.”
He kept friends and family back home up to date with his progress with the help of Henshaws students who set up and ran a website, Facebook page and fundraising page for his trip. “It’s very important to me that the students were involved,” Richard added.
The fundraising page is still online and taking donations for Henshaws www.justgiving.com/Richard-Fountain.
Planning has already begun for Richard’s next challenge, which he hopes will help raise money for Open Country - a charity which helps disabled people enjoy the countryside.
He plans to walk the “Chemin de la Liberté” – a Second World War escape route across the Pyrenees between France and Spain, and the only such route that was never shut down.