|Mont Blanc 2002In June 2002 I returned to Chamonix, yet again – this time to attempt to climb Mont Blanc, the biggest mountain in Western Europe.Training and acclimatisation went well and I notched up some good climbing days with various doctors and nurses from the hospital.
Then, on 28 June my doctor Manu Cauchy and myself set off from the top station of the Mont Blanc mountain train. Find out how we got on here:
In January 2004, Jamie was part of an all-disabled expedition to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The other team members were David Lim from Singapore who has partial paralysis of the lower legs after suffering the rare nervous disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Pete Steane from Tazmania who also has partial lower leg paralysis due to a spinal injury, and Paul Pritchard – well known British climber who sustained a serious head injury on the Tote Pole and has severe paralysis of the whole right side of his body.
The objective of the Voltaren Kilimanjaro Challenge was to make a rare ascent of one of Kili’s Northern Glaciers, either the Little Penck or the Credner, unsupported from the Shira Plateau. However on reaching Lava Tower camp (4600m) it became apparent that the Little Penck Glacier is now little more than a patch of dangerous looking seracs, sitting perched over a band of cliffs and moraine.
The team turned its efforts to the Credner Glacier, also considerably receded, but promising a climb of gentler angle. Further setbacks occurred when Paul began to develop pulmonary oedema, forcing a retreat back to Shira Camp at 3800m, then three days of bad weather dumped over a foot of snow on the mountain. Two attempted recces during the bad weather failed to find a route to the start of the Credner and then, to cap it all, two of our Tanzanian guides became snow blind and were forced to descend.
Faced with these setbacks, and running out of time, the team decided to focus their efforts on the much more well-known Western Breach, or Arrow Glacier Route. They also made a further compromise by taking two Tanzanian guides along on the final climb.
A start was made at 1 am on the 18th Jan. The Western Breach Route gave a superb climb of about Scottish II under snow and the team reached the crater rim at about 11 am. At 3 pm the team reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) which basked in glorious sunshine while the whole of the rest of Africa was hidden beneath cloud.
The descent to Barranco (3900m) took until midnight, giving an exhausting 23 hour day.
The Voltaren Kilimanjaro Challenge was in aid of the Upendo Leprosy Centre, a Rotary Club project on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, and over £5000 was raised for this worthwhile cause.