Colaton Raleigh artist in Everest conquest

Alan Cotton returns to Everest thanks to explorer David Hempleman-Adams

AFTER his failed attempt to reach Everest’s base camp in May, Colaton Raleigh artist Alan Cotton has returned to the mountain with explorer David Hempleman-Adams.

“It was the toughest adventure I’ve had in my life,” said Alan, whose first trip as David’s official expedition artist, was scuppered by a group of pro-Tibetan protestors.

Originally Alan had flown with son Robin to Katmandu but the American protestors put paid to plans to travel to Rongbok Monastery and on to the expedition’s base camp at 18,000 feet.

When David, who reached the summit during the North Face climb, found Alan had been turned back, he offered to fund a return trip so Alan could carry out sketches and take photographs for his planned Everest exhibition next autumn.

Alan, who returned on Sunday, said: “The great thing for me is that I wouldn’t have gone unless I’d had David with me. He said it was ‘unfinished business’ and without him organising it all I couldn’t have done it.”

Weather conditions couldn’t have been better for the 10 day trip with clear skies during the day, giving the internationally-renowned artist the chance to see Everest in stunning light.

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“It was an amazing sight,” said Alan. “Everest’s shapes had deep blue shadows, then as the evening comes there is this golden light on the mountain.

“I did a lot of drawing and took lots of pictures. I filled my mind with Everest and can’t wait to start painting in the New Year.”

At night temperatures plummeted to minus 25 degrees.

“For five days I stayed in the same clothes and didn’t shave. I didn’t suffer with altitude sickness and did a lot of walking, one day we did 10 miles. David was watching me to see my nails and lips didn’t go blue.”

The duo, accompanied by a Sherpa and driver, reached around 20,000 feet during their trip, acclimatising as they went.

“It was very pleasurable, there was no mountain climbing, we weren’t roped. I was sorry Robin couldn’t be there this time.”

Alan, who will paint a large picture of Everest as a thank you gift for David, said the most dangerous part of his journey was the trek down the mountain road to Katmandu.

“We saw six crashes on the way down, including a bus that had gone over the edge, which looked pretty bad.”

*Alan’s Everest exhibition will open at Messum’s gallery, London, on September 12, 2012.

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