Mountaineer’s epic story of survival

Jamie Andrew. Photo contributed.

Jamie Andrew. Photo contributed.

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Mountaineer Jamie Andrew is appearing at Buxton Opera House to talk about the horrific climbing accident which killed his climbing partner Jamie Fisher and resulted in him losing both his hands and feet.

In January 1999, Jamie and his friend Jamie Fisher climbed the North Face of Les Droites in the French Alps.

Jamie Andrew. Photo contributed.

Jamie Andrew. Photo contributed.

On the second day of the climb they were caught in an unexpected, vicious storm which lasted five days and nights, pinning them to the summit with no hope of a rescue.

With temperatures of minus 30C and wind speeds of 130km - conditions which the human body can’t survive for very long - the pair were just clutching onto existence.

Jamie will talk about how he’s gone on to climb mountains like Kilimanjaro, revisit the scene of his accident in the Alps, run the London marathon and complete an Ironman triathlon, as well as have three children with his then girlfriend and now wife Anna. His motto is that nothing is impossible.

Jamie said: “Tragically during the final night Jamie Fisher died of hypothermia and I very nearly died too but amazingly I made it through that night and the next morning I was picked up by the helicopter in a traumatic and spectacular rescue in the nick of time.

“But by then I’d suffered extreme frostbite - in fact my hands and my feet were literally frozen solid. About ten days later my hands and feet - all of them - had to be amputated.”

Remarkably Jamie learnt to walk again in just three and a half months. Jamie said: “My rehabilitation was swift but it didn’t seem fast at the time because it was such an incredible period of my life.

“In actual fact it wasn’t the worst time of my life, as you might think, but one of the most rich and rewarding times of my life because every day I was learning to do something I hadn’t done the day before - I was learning to feed myself, to wash myself, dress myself, go to the toilet myself, learning to walk again and basically rebuilding everything in my life all over again. I was lucky in that I had fantastic support.”

Jamie said: “The greatest limitations are the ones we put on ourselves. All the challenges we face in life are 95 per cent mental challenges and only five per cent other factors so for me not having hands and feet isn’t a particularly big deal - as long as I can keep mentally motivated that’s all that matters, but having that mental strength is often easier said than done. We need to rely on and help each other to make the most of the potential we all have.”

Jamie’s talk takes place at Buxton Opera House on Sunday June 17, at 7.30pm. For tickets, priced £12, call 0845 127 2190 or visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.