My Passion With Paul Iseard

Paul IseardPaul Iseard
Paul Iseard
Paul Iseard, owner of The Famous Sheffield Shop, on his passion for mountains.

MY wife says it is an Iseard trait to always go up the nearest hill and I think she is right. I remember lots of exciting excursions as a child. I know many people fear heights (ironically, I am one of them) but I remember lots of vertically inclined excursions as a child that set me up for enjoying adventures in the mountains.

Having whetted my appetite for scrambling and walking in the Lake District, I have broadened my horizons, leading to some very interesting adventures. I enjoy scouring maps and travel guides to seek out the most interesting climbs and it has been great to continually challenge myself with a variety of different ascents in a number of fascinating places.

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My biggest physical challenge was an expedition with Sheffield friends to complete the Cuillin Ridge walk on Skye, one of the toughest traverses available in the UK. Although a relatively short scramble of around six miles the route includes some very exposed mountain side and one section involves climbing with ropes.

After an exhausting 14 hours of ups and downs we were forced to abandon the attempt. However, it was still a fantastic experience leaving some great memories and it is an expedition I will never forget.

I think that the real drive behind my going up mountains is the opportunity to experience danger and deal with the attendant trepidation, as well as to enjoy the wild grandeur of the terrain. Daily worries and concerns recede into the distance to be replaced with a pleasant mix of exhilaration, serenity, calm and enjoyment of the physical challenge.

Our latest expedition, to the Via Ferrata above Lake Garda, was the ultimate example to date. Via Ferrata, which translates to ‘iron ways’ are mountain routes that take you where normally only experienced mountaineers have access. On the difficult stretches, such as a 200ft vertical cliff, there are metal ladders and cables pinned into the rock, so you can clip yourself on and keep safe – not that you feel it.

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On our second day we climbed a particularly steep route at the top of which we were able to peer down on the town of Riva del Garda, a good 3,000ft below. This was an exhilarating and nerve-wracking experience in equal measure and I don’t think I have ever been more relieved to get back to the safety of ground level and a nice Italian bar.

Now I think it’s fair to say that my enjoyment of high places is not restricted to mountain tops as I have sought out ascents in a variety of other settings including church towers, lighthouses, the Empire State Building and even the crow’s nest on a tall ship!

I am proud to live in the steel city and I feel lucky to live so close to the Peak District with its beautiful scenery and fantastic walking routes. There really is no better place to keep fit and prepare for the next mountain challenge – the Bavarian Alps.