Climber and adventurer Leo Houlding is constantly pushing the limits of what’s possible. In his most recent film House of the Gods, the Berghaus ambassador details the epic story of his month-long expedition to summit the sacred Mount Roraima, a mountain found deep in the Guyana jungle.
Leo and his team trekked through 100km of untracked Amazon jungle before scrambling up a vertical slime forest to free climb the massive wall. The team that ascended to the top consisted of international climbers, including fellow Berghaus athletes Anna Taylor, Waldo Etherington and Wilson Cutbirth, and two guides.
Since Leo first joined the Berghaus team over 20 years ago as an 18-year-old, he has climbed some of the world’s most challenging mountains in testing terrains. From Antarctica to Patagonia, no peak is out of reach.
This storyteller shares the jaw-dropping adventure in his new documentary House of the Gods, which the Pentland Brands teams recently had the privilege of watching at their London HQ. Following the screening, Leo shared some insights gleaned from decades of adventure.
On summiting Mount Roraima, the ‘House of the Gods’
“This was an exceptionally challenging expedition; we were free climbing a new route on a big wall in a remote location. The intention was to bring in new blood and give others the opportunity to summit. This compounded the challenge as having a bigger crew means more equipment, making everything more difficult. If it had just been myself and a more experienced team, it would have been 20% of the challenge. But the point of adventure is uncertainty. I learnt it can be more rewarding to share the journey with others, but it takes a lot more effort.
“Also, you have to do everything twice to make an ambitious film like this and get the top-down shots you see. Retakes are the last thing you feel like doing!”
Images by Coldhouse Collective
On sharing the summit with the people of Guyana
“Troy and Edward are the first indigenous people to scale the prow of Mount Roraima, a mountain that is sacred to the people of Amazonian Guyana. I wanted to get past the era of colonial expeditions so that local guides could summit too and not just carry your bags and set up camp. We trained Troy and Edward to safely use the ropes within a day. Having the opportunity to bring those guys along with us was something special. Without them, we couldn’t get to the bottom of the mountain; without us, they couldn’t get to the top.”
Supporting young talent
“People have showed me kindness and given me opportunities when I was young, and I want to do the same. Anna Taylor – (who is 23-years-old) really has talent, and I wanted to bring her along. The expedition was challenging, and she was so far out of her comfort zone, but she really rose to the challenge. It’s good to show that this doesn’t have to be a male-dominated world in the future.”
On being a Berghaus ambassador
“I have had over 20 years of adventure as a partner of Pentland Brands. During that time, I have taken Berghaus to the ends of the earth and across the harshest conditions, from the top of Mount Everest to the South Pole. Berghaus’ equipment helps people safely enjoy these incredible landscapes. None of these adventures would have happened without Berghaus or Pentland Brands.”
On what’s next
“There will be no major expeditions in 2022, but I will be going on a family holiday in the north of Norway. I’ll also be writing my next book. I’m looking forward to my next adventure being more stripped down.”
You can follow Leo’s on Instagram at @leo_houlding.
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