For five years I have been writing what has been described as one of the most credible Everest opinion blogs out there. I write about trekking and mountaineering from the often silent perspective of the commercial client.
For over a decade I have been exploring the world’s greater mountain ranges and keeping a diary of my travels. As a writer I strive to do for mountain history what Bill Bryson did for long-distance hiking.
Several of my expedition diaries are available as quick reads from the major online bookstores. My first full-length book, Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest, about my ten-year journey from hill walker to Everest climber, will be published in December 2015 and is available now to pre-order.
My favourite mountaineering book is The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman.
In April 2014 Mark Horrell travelled to Nepal to climb Lhotse, which shares a base camp and climbing route with Mount Everest. A devastating avalanche swept across the mountain, and suddenly he found himself witnessing the greatest natural disaster Everest had ever seen. When a group of Sherpas came out in protest, what happened next left his team shocked, bewildered and fearing for their safety.
Mark had been an ordinary hiker who had only read books about mountaineering. When he signed up for an organised trek in Nepal with a group of elderly ladies, little did he know that ten years later he would be attempting to climb the world's highest mountain. Funny, incisive and heartfelt, his journey provides a refreshingly honest portrait of the joys and torments of a modern-day Everest climber
There had been an unprecedented spell of good weather on Denali, a peak notorious for its severe conditions and cold temperatures that trapped climbers in storms for days on end. Would the weather hold for Mark Horrell's team or would they find themselves fighting to survive in the teeth of a storm? This is his account of a commercial expedition to climb the West Buttress.
Guatemala has a chain of thirty volcanoes, four of which are active. It's not the sort of place most people think of spending their Christmas holidays, but that's exactly what Mark Horrell did. Accompanied by a disparate group of people, he sets out to climb seven volcanoes in eleven days, including Volcan Tajumulco, the highest mountain in Central America.
Mark Horrell boards a cable car at the village of Azau, a ski resort in the Baksan Valley on the southern side of Elbrus, the first of many forms of transport he takes across both summits as he traverses the mountain to its wilder northern side.
This is the humorous account of an unusual ascent of Europe's highest mountain, and will appeal to anyone with a total disregard for cheating.
Mark Horrell sets out to trek and climb in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, an area which was previously a stronghold of drug funded guerrillas who would have regarded a climber, especially a foreign one, as easy ransom money. What he finds is a green and pleasant land of mountains, lakes and glaciers which belie Colombia's reputation as a den of terrorism. This is the diary of his journey.
Mark Horrell sets out with a new group of companions from Leh in northern India, near the banks of the Indus and surrounded by mountains, to spend two weeks trekking in a remote valley near the Pakistan border. His objective is to explore the region and find an unclimbed Himalayan peak to climb. This is the diary of his journey.
Mark Horrell sets off on an adventure travel reconnaissance with his friends who own a Nepalese trekking agency. On a desperate crusade to see a tiger in Bardia National Park they experience a bizarre set of escapades involving the Nepalese Army, a tame rhino and a surreal rafting trip. After visiting the birthplace of Buddha they are then terrorised by leeches on a monsoon trek.
A short distance south of Everest rises a giant 7,129m whale-back of a mountain called Baruntse, accessed to the south by a vast snow plateau guarded on each side by 6,000m passes. Mark Horrell had just failed on his third attempt to climb an 8,000m peak, Cho Oyu in Tibet, and returned to Nepal for the consolation of climbing a smaller peak with his friend Mark Dickson.
The great mountain explorer Eric Shipton failed to reach the summit of Muztag Ata, vomited from exhaustion on the way down and arrived back with frostbite.
Undeterred by Shipton's failure, Mark Horrell thought he'd have a go at the mountain himself. Despite its gentle appearance, it reaches an impressive height of 7546m, higher than he'd ever climbed before. This is the diary of his adventure.
Two friends set out on a trek in the Khumbu region of Nepal which involved climbing two trekking peaks - Mera Peak and Island Peak - and crossing the difficult Amphu Labtse pass. One of them had climbed Mera in 2004, and the other had climbed Island in 2005, but neither of them had done both or crossed the Amphu Labtse. This is the diary of their journey.
More people have climbed Everest than completed the Snowman Trek. Mark Horrell sets out to walk the famous long-distance trail in the magical Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, where economic welfare is measured not in Gross Domestic Product, but a commodity known as Gross National Happiness.
Along the way he encounters feisty yaks and dramatic mountain landscapes. This is his travel diary.
This is the tale of Mark Horrell's not-so-nearly ascent of Gasherbrum in Pakistan; of how one man's boredom and frustration is conquered by a gutsy combination of exhaustion, cowardice, and sheer mountaineering incompetence. But that's enough about his attempt; there were some talented climbers on the mountain as well, and this story is also about them.
Mark Horrell sets out to climb Manaslu with regular climbing partners Mark and Ian in Autumn 2011. A more luckless trio of wannabe mountaineers would be hard to find. Between them they had made no fewer than eight attempts to climb an 8000 metre peak without success. Would it be any different this time? This is the story of their expedition.
Many people don't know that it's possible to go mountaineering in Mexico, on a chain of volcanoes dotting the central plateau for 100km from Mexico City to Orizaba. The mountains are few and far between, with a great sense of space at the summit, and views to the far horizon. This is the story of Mark Horrell's journey in Mexico's Cordillera Neovolcanica.
This is the story of Mark Horrell's journey in the highlands of Ecuador following in the footsteps of the Victorian mountaineer Edward Whymper, who is best-known for making the very first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. In 1879 he made first ascents of many of Ecuador's highest mountains, and Mark was determined to find out more by climbing some of them himself.
In the Autumn of 2010, Mark Horrell set off to Tibet with a dozen other hopeful mountaineers to climb 8201m Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world, whose name translates as the Turquoise Goddess in Tibetan.
It was an extraordinary season as the mountain was battered by blizzards for weeks and many climbers were caught in avalanches. This is his diary of the expedition.
Mark Horrell was privileged to climb Aconcagua with a wise old Peruvian who had climbed the mountain more times than any other, and who had discovered one of its main routes. It soon became clear that you don't get a record like that unless you are willing to do all you can to defeat every obstacle the mountain throws at you.
Just north of Nepal's bustling Annapurna Circuit is a narrow gorge guarded by sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high which leads to a hidden valley high on the Tibetan plateau, a region remote enough for Khampa guerillas to use it as a hideout. This is the story of Mark Horrell's journey there, and will appeal to any lover of mountain literature, and of trekking and climbing in the Nepal Himalayas.
Mark Horrell wanted to see Everest from its Tibetan base camp, one of the most famous mountain views in the world, but he also wanted to climb a little higher up the mountain and have a sense of what it might have been like for George Mallory, the first explorer to climb it. This is the story of his expedition to over 7000m on the North Col of Everest.
In April 2012 Mark Horrell travelled to Tibet hoping to become, if not the first person to climb Mount Everest, at least the first Karl Pilkington lookalike to do so. The Chomolungma Diaries is a true story of ordinary people climbing Mount Everest with a commercial expedition, and preparing for the biggest day of their lives.
I really enjoyed this book. It's an honest, heartfelt and genuine account of an expedition that went wrong, and a great tribute to the three Iranian mountaineers who lost their lives on Broad Peak in the Pakistan Karakoram in 2013.