Alpinist from Horsham and Ardingly loses toes to frostbite after gruelling expedition in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountain range

But James is optimistic it won’t stop him from pursuing his beloved sport.

James Price descending Mirshikar. Photo by Sebastien Carniato

James, who attended St Robert Southwell Catholic Primary School in Horsham and then Ardingly College, began his six-week adventure in August.

The first two peaks he climbed with a joint Pakistani and French team were shorter ones for acclimatization. They were the first to climb Pheker Peak (5,465m) and the first to cross Mirshikar Peak (5,464m).

James’ next challenge was the Batura Wall, a 7,000m mountain range.

“I tried to cross these peaks, which had never been attempted before,” he said.

James Price on the crest of the Batura Wall

James said he left Passu village on September 11 with 30 kg of equipment and supplies for three weeks and returned on September 29.

He explained that one of the peaks in this “wall” or ridge is Muchu Chhish, the highest unclimbed peak in the world. James came close to his summit, having previously reached the summit of Passu Sar where the temperature was -28C.

But a predicted storm and strong winds dashed his plans to climb Muchu Chhish and James spent 30 hours camping and waiting for good conditions that didn’t materialize.

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The Mirshikar Ascension. Photo by Sebastien Carniato

He decided to use his last day of relatively good weather to begin the descent.

While camping out on the long return journey, James took off his boots and noticed that his toes were bluish and freezing.

“Once they started warming up, I really realized I had done damage,” he said, describing the pain as “excruciating.”

When the weather improved, still days from the village, James had to put his boots back on, descend five meters and travel 70km back to civilization.

James Price with the first signs of frostbite

Once there, he was treated at a local clinic and hospitalized as soon as he returned to France.

James, who used to be a health assistant, became a full-time alpinist two years ago. He got into the “more complicated side of climbing” at 18, having previously hiked the North and South Downs.

James said alpinism is an intense sport that can put pressure on a climber’s loved ones, which is “difficult to cope with”. But he said it’s also creative because people consider many factors like risk management and problem solving.

“And just being in nature and seeing those beautiful sunrises and sunsets up there is something you never forget,” he said.

Follow James on Instagram @jamesprice241.

James Price in hospital with his frostbite


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