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British quadruple amputee claims Matterhorn first

Published 08/08/2016

Jamie Andrew was the first quadruple amputee to scale Ben Nevis
Jamie Andrew was the first quadruple amputee to scale Ben Nevis

A British mountaineer who climbed Switzerland's Matterhorn has claimed to be the first quadruple amputee to reach the famous peak.

The claim of Jamie Andrew has not yet been verified with certainty, but he was backed by the warden of the Hoernli Hut base camp, who said he knew of nobody else who had achieved the feat.

Mr Andrew lost his hands and feet to frostbite after becoming trapped in a snowstorm while mountaineering in France 17 years ago.

The Scotsman spent five years training before attempting to reach the 14,692ft Alpine summit last Thursday with two seasoned guides from the International School of Mountaineering.

"In the end, climbing the mountain was the easy bit. It was all the graft and preparation, and trial and error (that was hardest)," he said.

After losing his limbs, Mr Andrew had to learn to walk again and eventually took up skiing and long-distance running before returning to his first passion - mountaineering.

With the help of robust prostheses and specially adapted poles, he was able to ascend much of the way towards the peak. When he needed to climb, Mr Andrew said he used what remains of his arms to hold on to the rope.

The 47-year-old took almost 13 hours to reach the summit and return to base camp - about five hours longer than most climbers.

Kurt Lauber, a Swiss mountain guide and warden of the Hoernli Hut, confirmed the ascent: "I don't know of any other such case."

He applauded the achievement, but cautioned against underestimating the Matterhorn, noting that Mr Andrew's team narrowly missed a bout of bad weather in which two other Britons climbing on the Italian side of the mountain were killed.

"It would be wrong for people who aren't disabled to now get the impression it's easy," he said.

AP

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