Disabled climbers conquer the Eiger - The Solihull Observer

Disabled climbers conquer the Eiger

Solihull Editorial 13th Oct, 2015 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016   0

MONTHS of planning and training paid off for two disabled climbers from Solihull Mountaineering Club who have completed a successful ascent of the demanding 13,000 foot Eiger mountain in the Swiss Alps.

The pair, Alex Taylor, who has MS, and John Churcher, who has extremely limited vision, are both part of the GB Paraclimbing team.

As part of a four person team, they completed the expedition over three days, and had to bivouac on the mountainside for two nights, sheltering themselves from snow, wind and rockfalls.

John has only 3 per cent tunnel vision as well as severe deafness and needed to be assisted on the entire ascent by a sighted guide, Mark McGowan.

Despite the limitations, John completed the challenge and told The Observer: “It wasn’t an easy task at all, I’m very proud of my achievements.

“I started climbing just over five years ago and the Eiger was always on my mind as a mountain to conquer.”

John received support from ‘Climbout’ – an organisation that help people overcome mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

‘Climbout’ have launched the #ClimbOut365Challenge – something John is part of, one of his goals was to climb a mountain.

He added: “Climbout have been fantastic, the support they offer people suffering from illnesses, such as depression, is overwhelming.

“I believe that just because I have visual impairment and suffer from severe deafness it shouldn’t limit me to what I can achieve.

“The Solihull Mountaineering Club has helped me meet like-minded people and offered me some fantastic opportunities.”

Alex meanwhile had to overcome the challenges imposed by suffering from MS, which impairs her balance and accelerates fatigue.

Alex said: “This was an amazing experience and could not have been achieved without a real team effort – it was a challenge both physically and mentally.

“It took sheer concentration, especially on the descent.

“I only had so much left in the tank, my legs felt like bits of jelly – my bruises testify to my lack of coordination.”

The team reached the summit on 26th July.

The ascent was recorded by Finalcrux films who are will be releasing a film of the ascent towards the end of the year.

Solihull Mountaineering Club caters for climbers and hillwalkers in Solihull and the West Midlands.

The club meets every Tuesday at Creation Climbing Wall, Moseley, and provides a varied program for its members who enjoy mountaineering, hiking and skiing throughout the UK, Europe and further afield.

More details can be viewed on the clubs website: www.solihullmc.org.uk

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