Quadruple amputee Jamie Andrew has climbed the height of Mt Everest on his stairs at home. Keen to find a challenge during Lockdown 2020, the Scot, who lost his hands and feet in a mountaineering accident 21 years ago, took 27 hours over four days to ascend the equivalent 8848m summit height of the world’s tallest mountain.
Jamie, who lives in Edinburgh, is raising funds for NHS Charities Together. He has so far almost doubled the target amount of £1000.
The 51-year-old said: “The challenge was partly to stay sane and also a great motivation for being active through the lockdown period.
“I am climber and being cooped up indoors is not my natural environment. I have learned through my experiences that you have to make the most of what you have and I was looking for a new way of being active while being at home.
“Climbing the height of Everest seemed like the obvious challenge for me.
“And because I can’t help in other ways, such as sewing masks or driving a delivery van, I decided to raise funds for NHS Charities Together.”
Everesting on his stairs
Jamie decided that he would attempt the 8848m ascent over four days. He broke each day into seven stages of 50 ascents of his 6.7m high stairs. Each stage was 330m and the aim each days was more than 2200m.
He said: “I like to break larger goals into shorter stages and climbing 1000ft (330m) each hour seemed about right to me. There was time spent having snacks or water, too, so I didn’t always achieve exactly the same ascent each time but overall it took about 27 hours.”
Jamie is an experienced and accomplished outdoor climber and mountain walker. He said: “I find that walking uphill outdoors is enjoyable and I don’t find it too difficult. But climbing the same set of stairs indoors was tedious and that’s what made it very hard.”
To cope mentally, Jamie listened to the radio and audio books. He was joined on some ascents by his children, 16-year-old Iris and twins aged 13, Alix and Liam, as well as the family’s cats.
He also did some of the total ascent on a decking step in the garden and by climbing step ladders.
He found that day two and three were the most painful in terms of aching muscles.
Jamie had also been concerned about how his stumps would fare. He said: “I can sometimes suffer friction burns in my stumps, where they join the prosthetic legs. Surprisingly, they were fine apart from a small rub.
“Going down the staircase I used the rail for support and this did start to cause friction sores on my arm stumps. I ended up putting on socks over my arms to stop this.
“Overall though it went better than I thought it would. I actually find that being active is better for my stumps and if I keep moving they do not seem to get as sore as when I sit around.”
Jamie’s final ascent of the four-day Everest Challenge saw him climb step ladders in his attic that led out on to the roof of the house. The total number of steps climbed was 45,000.
He said: “Some neighbours saw what I was doing and cheered and clapped as I made it on to the roof. It was a good thing to finish.”
French Alps tragedy
In 1999, tragedy struck Jamie and his friend Jamie Fisher on a climbing expedition in the French Alps. They had completed the North Face of Les Droites when a storm hit.
They were caught in the mountains for five days and despite a dramatic helicopter rescue, only Jamie Andrew survived. Severe frostbite meant both hands and both feet had to be amputated.
Remarkably, within three months, Jamie had learned to walk on prosthetic legs.
Since the accident, he has continued to be active in the outdoors, including swimming, running, skiing, walking and climbing.
He has walked Ben Nevis, raising £15,000 for charity in the process; run the London Marathon in 2001 raising £22,000 for charity; and made many ascents of 4,000m peaks in the Alps.
He has also climbed Kilimanjaro with three other disabled mountaineers and raised £5,000 for charity. And in 2016, with two local mountaineers, Jamie reached the 4478m summit of the Matterhorn in Zermatt.
In 2012, he climbed the Olympic Stadium of the London 2012 games as part of Channel 4’s Meet the Superhumans campaign to launch the Paralympic Games.
Jamie is a motivational speaker and gives talks throughout the UK. In 2004, he published a book, Life and Limb, which tells his story. Read more about Jamie Andrew.