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A mountain to climb for alumni trio

Three friends who met while studying at Edinburgh have shared a love of adventure by undertaking a challenge to climb Aconcagua in Argentina.

Alumni trio at Aconcagua Base Camp
Left to right: Chris Twiss, Ross Cullen and Loz Wong

Lawrence Wong (Chinese and Economics), Christopher Twiss (Politics) and Ross Cullen (Spanish and Politics) set out on the expedition in December, which saw them attempt to reach the summit of the 6,962 metre mountain, the highest outside Asia.

The outdoors

The trio, who all graduated in 2010, share a love of the outdoors and were motivated by a desire to explore the wider natural world.

“I love the outdoors in general,” says Chris. “Mountains offer the combination of incredible natural beauty, total tranquility and a great challenge – three things I value very highly. I also have a boyish love of standing on top of high things!”

Ross, too, enjoys a love of mountaineering but was also keen to feed his fascination with Latin America, something he developed while studying Spanish and Politics at Edinburgh.

“This expedition was a fantastic chance to combine the things I love,” he says. “Friends, the Andes, adventure and a beautiful country.”

Support

The expedition wasn’t just about personal challenges. The friends also decided to fundraise for White Helmets, a volunteer civil defence organisation that operates in parts of rebel-controlled Syria.

“The support from family, friends and even strangers has been overwhelming,” says Lawrence. “We managed to raise over £4,000, so much more than we expected, which is truly fantastic and made the experience even more worthwhile.”

Memorable moments

The three made fantastically vivid memories. “The snow fall at our first high camp was incredible”, says Chris. “We woke up in the morning and could barely open our tent because we were sleeping under five feet of powder.”

For Lawrence, the most memorable moments were also the most hair-raising. “I remember looking over my right shoulder on the summit day traverse and thinking that an ice axe might be handy. And on the first night at our third camp, we heard what sounded like avalanches followed by our tent being battered by strong winds.”

Edinburgh friends

And it was also a chance to strengthen the friendship bonds made at Edinburgh.

“I left the UK after graduation,” says Lawrence. “I’m very lucky that the friendships formed at Edinburgh have endured through time and distance. I was also pleasantly surprised to find many other Edinburgh graduates and friends in Hong Kong.”

Chris agrees, saying: “I've been lucky that Edinburgh friends are still very much entwined in my life - I play football with some, climb with some and live with some. Long may it continue.”

And Ross is looking forward to more adventures in the near future. “I have made friends for life from my wonderful years at Edinburgh. I’m already planning a climb of Kilimanjaro next year, as well as joining Lawrence and Chris on Denali in Alaska. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled with different groups of pals from the University, and I look forward to many more years of doing so.”