EXPLORING and naming a previously unvisited mountain in India is the impressive feat of a Brentwood man.
Led by Douglas Briton, Matthew Jones, of Brentwood, and Caroline McCann reached the peak in the Jammu and Kashmir Himalaya on Saturday, August 24, following 11 days of climbing.
This was despite perilous conditions, with continuous rock falls and stormy weather.
They named the area Kang Yabat, after a glacier at the head of the valley.
Mr Jones is originally from Pilgrims Hatch, until he moved to Ingrave, aged seven. The former St Helen's Catholic School pupil started climbing as a child, with the Third Brentwood Scout Group.
The 37-year-old now lives in North Yorkshire and Manchester and climbs regularly in northern England, having also climbed across Europe, as well as exploring Welsh and Scottish mountains.
Mr Jones trained for the Indian trip to keep his fitness up. Fellow climber and expedition leader Douglas Briton spent two years on the logistics and planning.
Mr Jones, who also enjoys amateur dramatics and cycling, said: "It took a while to find a suitable unclimbed peak.
"The thought of climbing a mountain which no one had been up before instantly appealed, along with going to the Himalayas. I'd never been to any big mountain ranges before, other than the Pyrenees, nor India.
"In fact I think the highest peak I had summited prior to this, was Ben Nevis."
Mr Jones explained that they needed special permission to take on the previously unexplored route, which they were granted by the Indian Government.
The group, who knew each other through a large group of climbing friends across the UK, met up on August 13, which happened to be Mr Jones' birthday, in Leh, northern India, at an altitude 3,500 metres.
They spent a couple of days there before taking Jeeps to the village of Gya, at an altitude 4,100 metres, where they stayed for two nights.
The group then walked up the valley to advanced base camp, which took five days, helped by local horsemen.
Mr Jones said: "Having never been to that altitude before the breathlessness was a shock. Just pegging out the tent was difficult – every time I put a peg in and got up, I felt dizzy.
"And the near-constant rock falls from the surrounding glaciers and rock walls were rather disconcerting.
"There was also one night when we were hit by a storm – we had watched it in the distance heading towards us. Lying in a tent trying to sleep while there is thunder all around was a bit worrying."
Following a rest day at the base camp, the group went to the summit, at over 6,000 metres. The assent, which was achieved in a single 13-hour push, with good weather contributing to their success.
Mr Jones explained: "I guess the unknown of the mountain summit was the most dangerous part.
"As Caroline and I ascended we didn't know what we'd find."
He added: "Given the opportunity, I'd jump at the chance to do other expeditions."