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In early June 2017, a team of six men will attempt to Climb Mt Blanc, France, in order to raise £60,000 for the MS Trust and The Royal Marines Charity, which will be split 70/30 in favour of MS Trust.
Mont Blanc meaning “White Mountain”, is the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest in Europe after the Caucasus peaks. It rises 4,808.73 m (15,777 ft) above sea level. The first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc was on 8th August 1786 and nowadays the summit is reached by an average of 20,000 climbers each year.
The Team will travel to Geneva on 5th June 2017 arriving in Chamonix later that day. Then will then have a ten-day window in which they will complete their challenge. The exact route they will take is yet to be decided and will depend on the abilities of Andy Merry and Mac McCullough, two MS sufferers. Before they arrive in Chamonix, they will have climbed Slieve Donard, Skafell Pike, Mount Snowdon and Ben Nevis, partly as a training tool but also to assess their capabilities and the impact their MS will have on them.
“We are under no illusion that this is going to be a massive undertaking, particularly for the two MS sufferers who have mobility problems. 80 to 100 rescue interventions are made each year; sometimes several per day, and 80% of these are due to exhaustion as a result of poor physical preparation and/or lack of acclimatisation and the ever-present dangers from altitude sickness. Natural dangers such as avalanches, falling seracs, rock falls, storms and poor visibility are also hazards to be considered and contribute to a number of deaths each year (13 in 2012).”
In addition to reaching the summit of Mont Blanc, the expedition aims to show other MS sufferers that no matter what their difficulties, abilities or aspirations, they can always push themselves harder and further than they may of thought possible.
To achieve this aim, they intend to use the four elements of the Commando Spirit; courage, determination, unselfishness and cheerfulness in the face of adversity, things they have all lived by during their service in the Royal Marines.