Briton, 50, conquers 14 highest mountains

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The Independent Online

A middle-aged schoolteacher turned mountaineer has become the first Briton to conquer the world's 14 highest peaks. Only 12 others have managed the feat.

Alan Hinkes, 50, reached the summit of Kangchenjunga in eastern Nepal in spite of treacherous conditions and a high risk of avalanche. He called it "the hardest climb of my life". The ascent marked the completion of "Challenge 8000", his attempt to conquer all of the world's peaks above 8,000 metres.

Mr Hinkes reached the top of Kangchenjunga, 8,587m high, partly accompanied by his friend and climbing partner, Pasang Gelu, who stopped short of the summit and was feared dead by Mr Hinkes at one stage.

Speaking about his ordeal from base camp, Mr Hinkes, from North Yorkshire, said he was elated to have triumphed over the final peak. "Every step of the way was a matter of physical and mental endurance." The pair tried to reach the summit on 29 May but were beaten back, before Mr Hinkes made it on 30 May. "Getting back to base camp was one of the best feelings of my life," he said.