A small team of British climbers are tackling the West Flank Route to the summit of The Eiger in Switzerland in July along with Finalcrux Films who will be recording the climb. The team's objective is to safely assist two members of the BMC GB Paraclimbing Team, John Churcher (Visually Impaired) & Alex Taylor (Multiple Sclerosis).
The Eiger Paraclimb 2015 is inspired by a will to raise awareness of Paraclimbing on an international stage alongside supporting the climbout365 challenge for awareness of mental health.
Mark McGowan (GB Paraclimbing Team Coach) and Scottish mountaineer Colin Gourlay will climb and assist on the route. Jamie Owen will be part of the support team at base camp and is likely to assist in the early stages of the climb. Jamie is also a UK Paraclimber with Autism.
John with Mark (his sight guide) and Alex recently competed in the televised 2014 World Championships in Gijon, Spain where John took Bronze Medal. John has 3% tunnel vision and also wears two hearing aids. Alex has MS which will be a separate challenge both in terms of balance due to weakness on her left side, coordination, and heat induced physical and mental fatigue. The paraclimber's disabilities in this mountain environment, although challenging, will require a very technical approach to elements of the climb which would not normally be part of a standard ascent.
For example, John will be exposed to double sensory impairment. This not only means that he will need to be guided and sight called every step to summit the Eiger, but other processes employed by the team to make sure that John is considered at every point of the climb, even how he is woken in the mornings bivouacked on the face without hearing and 3% vision. The same for Alex in how her MS affects her endurance and balance.
It is hoped that John and Alex ascent of this most iconic of mountains will inspire others and especially younger disabled people to try and improve their lives through adventure and increase awareness of the capability of paraclimbers.