We only really had it confirmed at the very end of April that Peter Habeler would definitely be able to make it in store, during the Keswick Mountain Festival. This meant there was a flurry of activity, to get everything ready for his visit on 17th of May, which for me meant I didn’t really think about actually meeting Peter Habeler until it happened…
I briefly met him on Friday 16th when he popped in to apologise as he would be held up with a sponsor on Saturday morning until 11.30am. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who made an apology sound so energetic and enthusiastic. As he bounced out the shop and down the road, he missed Sarah Howcroft by a minute as she returned from getting another wonderful Gift Your Geardonation. The reason I mention this “near miss” is because the first meeting between Sarah and Peter was the most significant of the weekend.
Later on that day a gaggle of the shop staff met up and headed off to see Peter’s talk at the Theatre by the Lake. He spoke about his mountaineering past and his achievements, including climbing Everest without the aid of additional oxygen in May 1978, he also mentioned whiskey a number of times when talking about his previous adventures.
The morning of Saturday 17th we were doing our normal day set up with just a little extra…posters in windows, flyers, tables, getting our Windlord jacket out, ready for Peter to sign. Then out of the blue, Peter appeared, to apologise again about his delay, fortunately Sarah was on the shop floor.
Peter produced his Windlord jacket – the very one that went to Everest with him, handing it over to Sarah. This was an extremely touching moment when Sarah held it “I remember putting these poppers on”
It was amazing to think that the jacket that Sarah now held in her hands, she had been involved in its very creation over 36 years ago! And that it hand been worn by Peter Habeler to climb Everest without the aid of additional oxygen. There was a little bit of welling up and you could really see how significant Peter’s jacket was to both of them.
Peter was whisked away after a bit of chit chat with the team in the shop to spend an hour with his sponsors before he was due to come back and spend the afternoon with us.
When He returned there was a collection of customers, reporters and photographers all ready to meet the man himself.
The Windlord jacket went straight on, and he was ready, but after a number of photos he required help from his stylist to make sure that the Rohan Label was nice and clear so everyone could see what it was. Fortunately his stylist has the biggest collection of Rohan, in the world ever, so he knew exactly how it should be displayed, up steps stylist Ben.
Peter also really still loves his Windlord jacket, he kept mentioning how well it still fits and that he still loves the colour, like many Rohan users say “it really lasts well”. I think the proof is definitely in the pudding with this one
During Peter’s talk the night before he had regularly mentioned whiskey. Ben thought it was only right to get him a tipple of our local spirit as a thank you for coming to see us. Unfortunately the Lake District distillery isn’t producing just yet but we got the next best thing (actually my preferred choice) Bedrock Gin! The first gin to be made with Lake District spring water…its yummy!
From the picture I’m pretty sure Peter was over the moon with it too. He plans to have a little tonic with this rather lovely gin, on his return home to Austria.
All told it was a really lovely day and it was fantastic to meet Peter Habeler. He had so much time for everyone, he happily stood and chatted to customers and did signings, spoke to all the staff and was happy to listen to everyone else’s experiences of walking, skiing, climbing and beyond. It was a real pleasure to meet Peter Habeler, and it was a truly special day for Rohan Keswick
Liz @ Rohan Keswick