Malton man fulfils his mountain ambition

Gazette & Herald: Michael Hetherton reaches the highest point in Norway Michael Hetherton reaches the highest point in Norway

A MALTON man has completed a long-time ambition to explore and climb some of the thousands of peaks in Norway. Michael Hetherton, a former salesman at Malton Motors, started his adventure after a friend, Charles Wood, announced he was going on a three-month sailing trip in the Arctic Circle.

“I jumped at the chance to sign on as crew, hoping that from time to time I could hop off the 44ft sailing yacht and up into the hills in the Lofoten Islands and elsewhere,” said Michael.

“I managed two or three peaks in the Lofoten Islands sometimes being able to start at 8pm or later when the yacht reached land, summiting in sunshine after midnight and getting back to the boat before breakfast before it was heading off to the next destination.”

Michael said his first chance to tackle a peak of more than 1,000 metres came when they were storm bound in Bodo and he managed to team up with 30 or so members of the local trekking club on an eight-hour accent of Midtitinden.

“This contact led me to being able to tag on to a five-day trek over the Jotunheimen organised by the Norwegian trekking association and taking in the two highest peaks on the Norwegian mainland,” he said.

“They even gave me a special rate as the start of the trip coincided with my 67th birthday and all travel in Norway becomes half price at this age. Nevertheless, because of a train derailment on the main line between Trondheim and Oslo, I had to mainly rely on hitch hiking several hundred kilometres south to Lom to meet up with the other nine members of my trek.

“Fortunately, the Norwegians are a very generous nation of lift givers even to a scruffy looking pensioner that had not had a decent wash for a week or two. During my time in Norway I actually got more lifts from lady drivers than men.”

The climbing group of four women and six men first tackled the Stygghobreen glacier.

“Here we were, fortunately, roped because nearing the end of the easy 2km plod across the glacier I became complacent, stepping on a snow bridge which promptly collapsed leaving me dangling over a somewhat deep crevasse,” said Michael. “I managed with the help of the rope to quickly scramble out with no damage done and was rather more careful with where I put my feet until we unroped on a rocky ridge leading us the last kilometre up to 2,469 summit.”

Michael said other highlights had been swimming in a glacier lake and the ascent of the Besseggen ridge.

“My experience of the Norwegian highlands, and the camaraderie of our group accepting me readily, make me want to return for further exploration in the future,” he said.

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