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Berghaus ambassador aims to be first quadriplegic to climb 7,000m peak

Berghaus ambassador Ed Jackson has set off on an expedition to attempt Himlung Himal, a remote Himalayan peak. Ed is aiming to be the first incomplete quadriplegic to climb a 7,000m mountain and has been joined on the expedition by friend and trainer Arron Collins-Thomas and Ben Halms, who has also suffered a major spinal injury. Ed and Ben will be using kit that has been modified by the Berghaus Adapts initiative, to help them climb despite their physical disabilities. The team will be in base camp by 22 March and will climb on the mountain between then and 3 April.

A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Ed Jackson, 33, is a former professional rugby union player who, in 2017, fractured multiple vertebrae in his spine. Doctors warned him that he may never walk again, but Ed has since confounded the experts and found a way to return to the mountains time and again. He founded the charity Millimetres 2 Mountains (M2M) to help other people who face similar challenges and in 2021, he teamed up with Berghaus to launch Berghaus Adapts. This initiative has been making bespoke kit adaptations to enable Ed and M2M beneficiaries such as Ben to access the outdoors. The company is currently developing plans for the next stage of the Berghaus Adapts project.

Ben Halms is a 33-year-old veteran who served 13 years in the Parachute Regiment. In 2018, Ben’s parachute failed to deploy during a routine jump and he suffered a serious spinal cord injury, leaving him with no sensation in his right leg. During his rehabilitation, Ben was put in touch with Ed, who introduced him to M2M and invited him to be part of the expedition to Nepal. Berghaus has adapted various items of kit to help Ed and Ben during their trip, including the modification of two special summit suits, with changes such as the addition of carefully placed knee straps to help them both lift their weaker leg with their hands as they climb.

If Ed succeeds in reaching the summit of Himlung Himal, he will become the first quadriplegic to climb a 7,000m peak. However, he recognises that the mountain presents a daunting challenge for him and for Ben, and the expedition has other objectives. Ed, Ben and their team will be raising funds for a spinal unit in Kathmandu that M2M supports.

Ed Jackson comments: “I can’t wait to get to base camp and find out what Ben and I can achieve on Himlung Himal, but this trip really isn’t about the summit. We shall be immersing ourselves in the incredible Nepalese culture and the fundraising that we’re doing for the spinal unit through the expedition is just as important. Spending time on the roof of the world is enough to change anyone’s perspective, but being able to support people whose lives we might be able to change for good will be even more inspiring.

“I’m very grateful to Berghaus for the company’s continued support, and for the amazing work that the product team has done to adapt kit so that we can attempt to climb this beautiful mountain. Whether we get to the summit or not, we know that we now have the right gear that will allow us to properly attempt it and that makes a big difference.”

For updates on the expedition, follow Ed Jackson on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/edjackson8. To find out more about Millimetres 2 Mountains and make a donation, visit www.millimetres2mountains.org. For further information about Berghaus, visit www.berghaus.com

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