The Limbless Mountaineer: One man scales The Matterhorn with no hands and no feet

Jamie Andrew attempts the inconceivable 15 years after losing his limbs during an expedition. We catch up with the adventurer ahead of his Channel 5 documentary to find out what drives him, and his top climbs around the world....

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The Limbless Mountaineer: One man scales The Matterhorn with no hands and no feet
Written By
Jade Bremner

“I’ve been through a lot,” says the very modest, and very competent quadruple amputee Jamie Andrew, who was injured when he got caught in a vicious storm on Mont Blanc with his climbing partner Jamie Fisher 15 years ago. “We were making an ascent up the face, we made really good progress," he remembers, "But then on the second day, as we were approaching the summit, we got caught in a storm, a really vicious storm, which ended up pinning us to the mountain summit.”  The storm lasted five days and five nights, temperatures dropped to -30˚C and the wind speeds reached 130 km per hour. "Your body just can’t survive in that indefinitely,” says Andrew.

Sadly, Fisher died on the mountain. Andrew was lucky, but had serious frostbite. “I lost my hands and my feet,” he says, “I was very nearly dead as well, but I was rescued at the 11th hour, it was an amazing, spectacular rescue, but my hands and feet were frozen solid.”

Having no feet and no hands hasn’t slowed Andrew down; it’s done the opposite. “It became the start of so many other things,” he explains. Andrew is now an inspirational speaker, regular skier, triathlon athlete, has run the London marathon, and has just returned from attempting to scale the world’s most famous peak after Everest ­– The Matterhorn, which stands at 4,478metres. Channel 5 joined him on this epic journey....

"I don't have a death wish," explains Andrew, who has a wife and kids. "It’s about challenge and teamwork and goals and experiencing the incredible beauty of nature close up. It’s really a life-enriching and enhancing experience. I become highly motivated because I know how rewarding it is." 

Andrew admits he wouldn't have it any other way. “I really love my life without hands and feet,” he says. “People struggle to believe that. But it’s true, because I can do everything, I can manage everything, and I’m also at the disposal of all these opportunities.”

His aim is to show the British public that we can overcome the difficulties we face in life, no matter how bad it gets. “Whatever the challenges or difficulties are that you face in life, it is 95 percent mental and only five percent other factors.” says Andrew, “If you can overcome the mental side of things and if you can manage to think positively and believe in yourself, you really can achieve almost anything.

“If that message happens to rub off on just one other person, then I’ll be really happy.”

Watch The Limbless Mountaineer at 9pm, April 4, on Channel 5


Jamie Andrew's top five climbs around the world


1. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa

"It’s the tallest mountain in Africa," says Andrew, "I climbed it with a team of all disabled people. That was a great experience, learning to work with our own weaknesses."


2. Mont Blanc, France/ Switzerland 

"As the biggest mountain in western Europe, it's a big one for me," says Andrew. "It is a mountain that I tried but have not yet succeeded in getting to the top. I have a chance to go back and climb that with my doctor, who was the first person to treat me after my accident." 


3. Moonlight Buttress, Utah's Zion National Park, USA

"I like the kind of climbing that Alex Jones was doing in Utah," says Andrew, "I have not climbed that particular wall, but I’ve climbed some nearby. I’d love to get back and do that again. If Alex wants to go back and do another wall, I’d happily go back there with her."



4. The Matterhorn, Switzerland and Italy

"This to me is one of the most iconic mountains in the world," says Andrew, who attempts the climb as part of his new Channel 5 show.


5. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

"This is a hill in the middle of Edinburgh, and it’s one that I can go to any day of the week, even when I’m working," explains Andrew. "I can go out for an hour and climb up a hill at Arthur’s Seat and have fantastic views over all of the city. Sometimes it’s the simple stuff like that makes being outdoors worthwhile. It doesn’t have to be the most amazing mountain in the world."


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