Logan’s 4 Peaks and Mont Blanc Challenge 

13th January 2023

O’Halloran and O’Brien construction apprentice, Logan Price, completed the monumental feat of climbing Mont Blanc to raise funds for our charity. The gruelling journey took him through some of the most challenging terrain in the in the world, but Logan’s dedication and hard work paid off as he was able to raise a fantastic sum of money for the cause while also achieving an incredible personal accomplishment.

We spoke to him to hear what he had to say about his challenge and previous experience mountain-climbing for charity:

“My name is Logan Price and I am a young construction professional working as an Assistant Site Manager for O’Halloran and O’Brien. I’m currently working on the Wood Wharf project in Canary Wharf and also studying to complete my degree in construction management.

This time last year I was In a very different place, my mental health has been in a bad state for months and I attempted to take my own life. This was obviously a challenging time for my family and I. During this time my employer was excellent in allowing me time off and a step back from my responsibilities at work. This allowed me to have some much needed headspace for my rehabilitation, during this period I decided it would be in my best interests to set some personal targets. Starting small at first; getting up on time, making my bed, and going on a walk or a run. Just completing these simple things can help get you in a better headspace, that’s why its so important to make time to do them in your everyday life. These were my first steps to feeling better and more like myself. In turn I began setting larger goals, to challenge myself both mentally and physically, after watching the Netflix series ’14 Peaks’ I set my mind on a climbing target, but without much experience mountaineering I couldn’t simply climb Everest as much as I might have wanted to. After thorough research I concluded that Mont Blanc would be ideal, with it being one of the tallest in Europe but also a good building block available to aspiring mountaineers. 

Once I set this target for myself I realised that I now had an opportunity to help raise awareness and potentially some money in aid of mental health, although this wasn’t the original intention it also ended up adding to my motivation

I had previously heard of the lighthouse club from the ‘Help Inside the Hard Hat’ campaign and posters on site, and without knowing much more I looked to get in contact with Bill Hill. Told him about my challenge and that my aim was to raise money for his charity, he was fully on board and supported my ambition, through Bill I found out about the lighthouse clubs very own ‘4 peaks’ challenge. This involved climbing the 4 tallest mountains in the UK and Ireland, Ben Nevis, Helvellyn, Snowdon and Carrauntoohil in 48 hours. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to gain some experience and test my fitness before I climbed Mont Blanc.

The 4 Peaks challenge may not seem that challenging and certainly was something that I underestimated, my view was that I would use this to track my training up to this point and it wouldn’t be too difficult for someone of my fitness to complete.
Made up of around 80 people all related in some capacity to either the construction Industry or to raising awareness for mental health, we all had motivation and a ‘why’ we should even take part in this challenge. This is imperative if you wish to complete a challenge like this, because it will push you to an mental place that most people would never seek out in life.

We met at Chester, were split into smaller groups and had a nice hearty meal before we set off to the Scottish Highlands and Ben Nevis. Travelling through the night we arrived in Fort William at around 9am, had a proper fry up and set off at 11am for the summit of Ben Nevis. The route we took to the top was the Tourist Path, which – as suggested by the name – was a relatively straightforward way up the mountain. The weather however was less than straight forward, and was what posed the main challenge to us all. The first hour was manageable and only a light drizzle, nothing that everyone’s cheap coats couldn’t handle, past the stage that we had all fully committed the rain came and it came hard. This damped our spirts (pardon the pun) and tested many peoples ‘why’ early on. The top of the mountain, even at this time of the year, was covered in a deep layer of snow for what felt like 100m of elevation. There was no view to see from the summit and we quickly looked to get a picture, and head straight back down.
The weather was a challenge but the walk itself was quite easy, the pint of Guinness at the base of the mountain was more than welcome and certainly helped lift people that thought they had got themselves into something more difficult than they originally thought.
Around 5pm after everyone had made it back to the coach, we set off for Helvellyn. This was to be done during the night, which was to be both beneficial and a drawback. As we set off in the dark we couldn’t see the challenge that lay ahead of us, but at the same time we were already exhausted from the previous climb and had to do this on little sleep. In all honesty this was the mentally toughest for me, and I cannot recall a lot from it. Perhaps I was asleep whilst I was walking up. Nevertheless it was completed and I know that I slept like a baby all the way to North Wales.

Snowdon was next on the list, a mountain I had climbed several times before and researched in depth so was looking forward to it. It was also past the ‘halfway point’ of the challenge, for me even being here meant I knew I was going to complete the challenge, there was no doubt in my mind. We took the miners route across the waters edge in the basin and did all of our elevation in a short space of time meeting the pyg track and going on to the summit. The weather was favourable, albeit a bit foggy.. we had now climbed 3 mountains in less than 24 hours but hadn’t had a single view from the summit – typical.

After waiting at the base – with a beer – for the others to make their way back down, we set off for Carrauntoohil. All the way in Country Kerry, we not only had to cross the Irish Sea, we also had to travel across the entire width of Ireland. This left us with limited time to get up and down before the 48hr time limit was up, most groups made it within the period and those that didn’t were equally pleased with their incredible accomplishment of completing it. One of the important things I’ve learnt is it doesn’t matter about the magnitude of the challenge, you don’t have to be setting a world record, you just have to be pushing your limits. That is what forces growth and only you know your physical limits, so it’s a very personal target that you should be setting. 

The Challenge was a great success and definitely something I would fully endorse doing again, on not only a personal achievement perspective but also how much it helps the lighthouse club in terms of fundraising, which allows them to continue the excellent work that they do. The main challenge was the travelling, with the 3 British peaks being possible in 24hrs but I’m unsure that with Carrantuohill included I don’t this it could be much less than 40 travelling by car. I’m aware the lighthouse club also do a bike ride around Ireland as well, which is certainly something that i’d like to do in the future!

My main target from the beginning was to climb Mont Blanc, and I was only ever using the 4 peaks challenge as a stepping stone. I booked to climb with Mont Blanc Guides, who are based In Chamonix on the French side of the Alps. In the weeks and months before the climb I was consistently in the gym and getting plenty of cardio in, I knew this would be far harder than the 4 peaks.

I flew into Geneva and travelled to Chamonix, before meeting the guides and teammates. We were briefed on the plan and had dinner  together, the course was split into 2, 3 day sections. The first section was an acclimatization climb of Gran Paradiso (4064m), and the second section would either be climbing Mont Blanc (4809) or Monte Rosa Massif (4600). The weather this summer in the Alps had been exceptionally hot and this made Mont Blanc dangerous to climb, on the climb you would have to cross the Grand Couloir – which is specifically prone to rockfall – as the temperature increases the rocks expand and can become loose. We had been made aware of this several weeks before we were scheduled to climb, and the contingency plan was to climb Monte Rosa. Initially the possibility of not climbing Mont Blanc – the mountain that I had in my mind for so long – was frustrating, however I came to terms with it and realised the opportunity that was still in front of me. Though the weather cooled in the days before we were scheduled to climb the decision that was reached was that it would be unsafe to attempt to climb. All of the team were disappointed but prepared for this possibility, and with that we had now to focus on Monte Rosa.

The first section began with a drive from Chamonix across the border to Italy and parked up at the base of Gran Paradiso, the first day would be a gentle walk up to ‘Rifugio Chabod’ which is where we stayed. This was just above 2700m and even at this height we all noticed the difference in the oxygen, although not problematic it wasn’t pleasant, gradually we began to acclimatise. In the evening we were briefed on the plan and specifically the timings, we were to split into 3 groups with a guide leading each one and had to be up at 3am and ready to go for half past!
Day 2 began early and we weren’t feeling that fresh, not only due to the time but it was also difficult to get a great nights sleep whilst in the early stages of acclimatisation. Head torches on and we walked under the stars up the mountain, the terrain wasn’t easy and there were lots of large rocks that had to be climbed up and over. As we gained more elevation we began to see the beginning of ice and snow that was a permanent fixture, this signalled that we needed to stop and put on our crampons. They are an essential in icy conditions due to the metal spikes on the underside, this allows you to have a confident grip and walk more safely. Most of us hadn’t done much high level  mountaineering and therefore hadn’t needed to use crampons, we had little time to grasp the technique but had to adapt quickly. The route to the summit looked simple from a distance but was a winding, ever changing maze over and around the crevasses. These could be hundreds of feet deep and covered in fresh snow, so all 4 of us had to be roped together to ensure that if one person fell then they would be caught by the weight of the others. After a gruelling trek on the glacier we could see the summit, but before we could claim our victory we had to traverse over a series of ladders and the shimmy our way around a rockface before scaling a rock face. The summit itself was extremely exposed with a 1,000ft drop on one side. We slowly worked our way down the most exposed ledge where we had to clip ourselves onto a line that was attached to the rockface, we were told that this was as exposed as our mountaineering would get on this trip, that was certainly the case. Upon the decent we stopped a few times for a rest although we weren’t taking things slowly, as there was still a risk of rockfall and avalanches as the mountain heated up throughout the day. That is why we had to be up so early! It didn’t, however, make the early mornings any easier! I  arrived back down at the Rifugio Chabod ‘hut’ where I was greeted by the rest of my team, we had 7/9 complete the climb, thankfully it wasn’t the case of if you couldn’t climb here you couldn’t progress. We all were pretty well exhausted that afternoon and waited hungrily for dinner that evening, the food in the hut was great and served by a crazy but lovely Italian man! The hut has been open since 1985 and is where the majority of people who climb gran Paradiso would stay. We slept much better that evening, which was a combination of being more acclimatised and absolutely shattered! We arrived back at Chamonix and again chilled out that evening, by this point aware that we wouldn’t be going to Mont Blanc, and instead would climbing Mont Rosa.

There was a briefing held at the chalet and our groups would be split again, I was put on my own with the guide my group had for the previous climb. Marco was determined that he would get the pair of us to the top of Monte Rosa even telling me ‘I will pull you up if I have to!’. The plan once again was similar to Gran Paradiso, with the first day being spent travelling and making our way up to the hut (this time we were staying in the Gnifetti hut), the second day would be our summit day and the third would be making our way down and back home. The main additional challenge here was the height, you’d be surprised what difference 600 plus metres makes when you are already 4000 vertically up! On arrival to the Gnifetti hut, we were greeted with a shear climb up, and that was just to get in the door, after working our way up this section we were at the hut, again I cannot emphasise the difference in height here in comparison to the previous hut, yes we had gained 1000m on the last hut, but simply running up the stairs would leave you out of breath. This was embarrassing at first, before realising everyone else was the exact same. Again in the morning we set of at the crack of dawn, aiming to complete a series of mini peaks on the massif. I had set myself the target of 2 or 3 summits, which I thought would be achievable. Marco and I once again had to travel over the glacier and make our way passed the crevasses that were in our path, this was always dangerous as there is a risk of a hidden crevasse because of this we were roped together again. The pace we started with was good but as we gained altitude I began to slow, Marco insisted that we push on and keep the pace, I kept persevering until we took a break. By this point I was struggling with the altitude but my legs were also veery fatigued. Each step was a genuine struggle, and I had to fight to keep up with Marco, we still hadn’t reached the summit of anything yet! Everyone on the mountain is on the ascent, all bar one.. I see a figure quickly coming down the mountain. As they get closer I can recognise who it is, Nims Dai. This is the man who started my journey into serious mountaineering. Once he had approached I asked him for a picture and told him why I was climbing, we had a genuine conversation and he was pleased that I was motivated to do something for others. I didn’t notice at the time but, looking back at the picture you can see he is only wearing thin jogging bottoms and trainers! As we got closer to the first summit I gained some energy but this was to be short lived… this was a false summit, with the real peak after a very steep incline. I pushed myself to keep climbing up but on the steep face lined with loose snow this was a challenge, luckily the peak wasn’t too long of a climb up and I eventually worked my way to the top. It was an immensely clear day and I could see the Mont Blanc and Matterhorn silhouettes in the distance… both of which I intend to conquer! Having got a quick picture, we made our way down and I realised we still had another two to go. In all honesty I was questioning myself if I could go on, I knew I was fatigued and that was playing on my mind… I was ready to give in, and without Marco I almost certainly would have. He encouraged me that I needed to continue to push on so we could rest properly at the next hut, I begrudgingly followed his lead. This was undoubtedly the hardest part mentally for me, I had the option to turn around and go back but that wasn’t what I had set out to do. I had set a target for myself and I wasn’t going to come and take the easy option out. We continued albeit at a slow pace and eventually made it to the top of the peak, remarkably they served pizza and soft drinks here which fuelled me on my descent. I called it quits after reaching this point and headed back for the Gnifetti hut. On arrival, we were greeted with a warm welcome and a much deserved beer! We relaxed that evening and had a celebratory dinner before having an early night. Now the 6th and final day with Mont Blanc Guides we headed back to Chamonix, the group said our goodbyes to the guides and I thoroughly thanked Marco, I knew without his help I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did! That evening all 9 on the course headed for dinner and some drinks! Where we reflected on our challenge and experiences shared together, some lovely people in our group and I’m sure we will look to do some more local walking in England (or Scotland!).

What to take out of this:

Upon reflection I wish that I hadn’t been so quick to give up at times, there were more peaks there to be climbed and I chose to give up. However, this is perhaps too harsh as I know that I was really in a state of exhaustion.

Meeting Nims was a one in a million chance and made my experience even more valuable than it already was, I’d love to be able to do a challenge with him in the future and his platform would enable even more sponsorship than before.

Throughout this challenge the money that I was raising was a constant thought of mine, I used it as my motivation at my most difficult moments, and the thought of who I was helping gave me more motivation than I otherwise would have had.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank both the Lighthouse Club and state of mind sport for the amazing work they do and I wouldn’t have done what I have on this scale without them. I look forward to working with them both in a similar capacity in the future, I’m always playing with new ideas of what crazy challenge to do next!”

We want to say a huge thank you to Logan for committing so bravely to this challenge and we look forward to seeing what amazing feats he achieves next!

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