A brave mountaineer climbed all the way to the Matterhorn’s 2.1mile summit despite not having any hands or feet.
Jamie Andrew, who hails from Edinburgh, Scotland, made the trek, which is widely regarded as the most dangerous in Europe, in order to try and inspire other amputees.
The 44-year-old lost his hands and feet to frostbite in a mountaineering accident 15 years ago during a climb up the north face of Les Droites in Mont Blanc that saw his friend, Jamie Fisher, die. Fisher died just hours before Andrew was rescued after the pair had been marooned thanks to deep snow and fast winds for four days and nights.
According to the Daily Mail, the father-of-three was aware of how much effort he needed to put in to climb the Matterhorn, which is located in the Alps, but he also stated, “I’ve wired my brain so when I come across an obstacle, my first instinct is to think how to get round it. When I see a failure, all I can think about is how to overcome it.”
After losing his hands and feet, it only took a few years for Andrew to return to climbing. “I knew that flame hadn’t been extinguished,” he admitted. “I also knew that if Jamie had survived he’d be doing the same thing. To me, it’s always been such an enriching experience.”
Andrew began to climb up smaller mountains, but then, after a few years, he decided that he wanted to tackle the Matterhorn, even though it’s believed to have claimed close to 500 lives since 1865, when the first attempt to reach the summit was recorded.
“Physically, it’s such a big mountain,” Andrew noted. “The climb is 1400m – thats just exhausting and it’s tricky the whole way. You have to concentrate the whole way because one slip could be disastrous. Finding new ways of using my prosthetics was key.”
He explained that it was worth all of the toil though.
“When you’re up there and heading for summit or on the way down, it’s hard to appreciate your surroundings because you’re focused and your thoughts are about getting job done,” Andrew recalled. “It was only afterwards that I began to look back and appreciate the experience. When you’re up there, there’s this incredible panoramic view and you’ve earned it. You’ve earned every inch that you’ve gained and that is a terrific feeling.”
Andrew is far from done too, because for his next challenge he hopes to scale El Capitan, in California’s Yosemite National Park, which is famed for its sheer rocky outcrop.
[Image via Channel 5]