Former Lochaber High Head Remembers the Hindu Kush

Filling the guest speaker’s slot on 19 July was past-president Paul Brian. In a riveting 10-minute talk, Paul took the audience back 55 years to 1968 when he was a member of the Scottish expedition tackling Afghanistan’s fabled Hindu Kush mountain range.

Paul, who lives in Corpach and was head teacher at Lochaber High in the 1990s, was part of a small team of Scottish climbers who gained permission from the Afgani Government to attempt an ascent of a 22,000 foot high unclimbed ice capped mountain peak in the Hindu Kush, only to find, when they arrived, the flag of an Austrian expedition newly planted on the summit!

Paul explained that, while they were aware that the Austrian expedition team had also been granted permission to climb in the area, they had not expected them to be ascending the same mountain and thwarting the Scottish team’s ambition of a first ascent. Paul added “The Austrian Alpine Club just beat us to it. While we were disappointed, we were fortunate to spend nearly six weeks in an area of unparalleled beauty, close to the Russian frontier, in this intriguing country”.

But the story doesn’t end there. Last week, after not seeing one another for 55 years, Paul reunited with team member Alan North who visited him at his home in Corpach. It was this visit that inspired Paul to use his ‘Guest Speaker Slot’ to remember their 1968 expedition. Alan has written a book about the expedition – “Adventures in the Alps of Afganistan” – published by Apple Books.

Club President Flora McKee thanked Paul for his warm and interesting talk and the audience responded with appreciative applause