Disabled climber quits mountain bid 250m from top

Jamie Andrew was forced to turn back. Picture: Esme Allen
Jamie Andrew was forced to turn back. Picture: Esme Allen
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AN Edinburgh climber, with no hands or feet, has told of the “heartbreaking” moment he was forced to abandon an attempt to scale one of Europe’s deadliest mountains - just 250 metres from the summit.

Jamie Andrew lost his hands and feet in a mountaineering accident 15 years ago which claimed the life of a close friend.

Despite the tragedy, 35-year-old Jamie’s lifelong ambition is to climb the Matterhorn, on the Swiss-Italian border.

The 14,690ft peak was not conquered until 1865 and has claimed the lives of 500 climbers since.

Undaunted, Jamie, from Edinburgh, who climbs with special prosthetic limbs and a support team, set off for the attempt last month

Writing on his website, Jamie said the team were hit by avalanches and temperatures of - 10 degrees C, delaying their progress.

Around midday, as they approached the top, the skies clouded over, threatening a vicious turn in the weather.

Jamie wrote: “Less than 250m climbing led to the summit, but with time against us, a descent more difficult than the ascent, and no bivouac gear, we face an extremely difficult choice.

“Given the conditions, reaching the summit seemed certain.

“But then getting down safely would not be guaranteed, In the end we took the heartbreaking decision to turn back.”

Jamie’s life was changed forever in 1999 when he and a friend, Jamie Fisher, went on a climbing expedition in the French Alps.

While descending the north face of Les Driotes, part of the Mont Blanc massif, the pair became trapped in a storm.

After five days on the mountain, rescuers finally reached them.

But by then, Jamie Fisher was already dead and Jamie Andrew was so severely frostbitten doctors had no choice but to amputate both hands and both feet.