Scottish mountaineer Jamie Andrew has laid claim to being the first quadruple amputee to climb Switzerland’s iconic Matterhorn mountain following an ascent with two trained guides last Thursday.
Andrew, who lost his hands and feet to frostbite in a snowstorm while mountaineering in France 17 years ago, spent five years training before attempting to reach the 4,478-metre (14,692-foot) Alpine peak.
"In the end, climbing the mountain was the easy bit. It was all the graft and preparation, and trial and error [that was hardest]," Andrew told The Associated Press by phone from Switzerland.
The 47-year-old, who is now an inspirational speaker and has written a book called Life and Limb: A True Story of Tragedy and Survival, 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 Andrew was able to ascend much of the way toward the peak. When he needed to climb, he said he used his remaining arms to hold on to the rope.
It took almost 13 hours for Andrew to reach the summit and return to the base camp – about five hours longer than most climbers.
Kurt Lauber, a Swiss mountain guide and warden of the Hoernli Hut, confirmed the ascent. The claim that Andrew is the first quadruple amputee couldn't be verified with certainty, but Lauber said: "I don't know of any other such case".
Andrew's team reached the camp at 7pm, narrowly missing a bout of bad weather in which two Britons climbing on the Italian side of the mountain were killed.
swissinfo and agencies