Adaptive adventurers aim to be first to traverse Europe’s largest Ice Cap

A team of adaptive adventurers will attempt to complete a traverse of Europe’s largest ice cap this month.

On 14 April, Ed Jackson, Darren Edwards and Dr Niall McCann will set off on an unsupported 155km journey across the Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland. If successful, they will become the first team with disabilities to complete the traverse. The three men, who all have spinal cord injuries, aim to raise awareness of the powerful role that the outdoors can play for both physical and mental health. The expedition is being sponsored by Berghaus, as part of a long-term project to take action that makes the outdoors open to everyone.

Ed Jackson (34) is a former rugby union professional and lifelong outdoor enthusiast. In an accident in 2017, Ed fractured multiple vertebrae in his spine and doctors warned him that he may never walk again. He has since confounded the experts and found a way to return to the mountains. Ed works closely with Berghaus, which modifies kit to help him climb, and he is now an ambassador for the brand. Ed uses his challenges to raise money for the charity that he and his wide Lois founded, the Millimetres 2 Mountains Foundation (M2M), which supports people who have experienced physical or mental trauma to get active in the outdoors.

Before his near-death climbing accident, which resulted in paralysis, Darren Edwards (32) was a mountaineer and Army Reservist. Now a motivational speaker and resilience coach, Darren has broken many records through his desire for adventure. Specialising in remote-area research on

endangered species, biologist Dr Niall McCann (41), has taken part in challenging expeditions all over the world. He joined the Mountain Rescue team that rescued him after an accident left him with five broken vertebrae. 

Ed, Darren and Neil each has a set of disabilities that is unique to them, and will affect how they tackle the challenge of traversing the Vatnajokull Glacier. Ed and Niall have walking difficulties and sensation loss in their lower limbs, and will be travelling on skis. Darren will be completing the challenge in a sit ski (propelling himself along using poles). All three men will be linked together by a single rope, and without any support or guidance, will make the journey as a team.

If successful, Ed, Darren and Neil will be the first disabled team to cross the largest ice cap in Europe. Their aim is to raise £155,000 for M2M – £1,000 for every kilometre of the journey. Berghaus has sponsored the logistics of the expedition and adapted some of its high performance kit for the three men, meaning that 100% of donations will go direct to the charity.

Ed Jackson comments: “A terrible diagnosis is not necessarily a terrible prognosis, and Darren, Neil and I are living proof of that. We’re attempting this traverse together to demonstrate to anyone who has suffered a life changing injury like each of ours, that you can still go on to achieve amazing things, despite facing change and adversity.

“Speaking personally, for me to do that, I have needed allies such as Berghaus, but that simply goes to demonstrate what is possible, rather than what is not. We founded Millimetres 2 Mountains to help others who have suffered trauma to benefit from the positive impact of spending time outdoors. Our traverse of the Vatnajokull Glacier will both showcase this, and also raise vital funds to help even more people attempt their own adventures.”

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