A very British Partnership with Shackleton Clothing

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A very British Partnership with Shackleton Clothing

The AGS team is proud to have the support of Shackleton London - a truly British brand - and one which equips users with the best possible kit for extreme conditions. Shackleton London has partnered with some truly pioneering, global and extreme expeditions and we are honoured that they have chosen to support the AGS team.


Martin Hewitt, AGS team leader, is photographed here in the Alps wearing the Shackleton Erebus Jacket
‘With temperatures on Everest expected to range from 10C down to -30C, having clothing which is fit for purpose, compressible and reliable is essential to our success. 

The AGS team is embarking on what we hope will be a lasting partnership with the Shackleton brand for our wider Adventure GrandSlam mission - 7 peaks, 7 continents and 2 poles with the first disabled team. 

#byenduranceweconquer #shackleton #adaptivegrandslam #AGS#everest #summit #adventure #conquergiants #grandslam#takentoextremes #britishmade

Shackleton Clothing - British made, expedition grade apparel. Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton, tested in Antarctica, taken to extremes.

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Everest in The Alps, and final training

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Everest in The Alps, and final training

This week Martin Hewitt, AGS founder and Everest team member speaks about his involvement with the ‘Everest in the Alps’ event in Verbier – ski touring the height of Everest in 4 days to raise money for a pioneering brain cancer charity.
The event also served as his penultimate training trip ahead of his departure for the Himalayas. 

How did ‘Everest in the Alps’ come about – tell us about it. 
‘In 2015, a team of 14 set off on the first ‘Everest in the Alps’ challenge: to ascend 8,848 metres – the height of Everest, the world’s highest peak – on skis, over four days in Verbier. The event involves approximately 32 hours of uphill ski touring.  Each day the teams climb between 2,000m – 2,500m to reach the overall target of 8,848m in just 4 days.  The inspiration and motivation for the event was a brave little boy Toby, and those like him who are diagnosed with brain tumours. 


The first event 3 years ago raised over £3 million for The Brain Tumour Charity, helping to fund a new research facility - The Everest Centre-  which is now leading vital work in the area of paediatric low grade brain tumours’. 

How did the AGS team get involved with the Everest in The Alps event?
‘One of the organisers of Everest in the Alps is a friend of mine from University and also a previous Para – Tom Bodkin. Tom set up Secret Compass, which is the logistics provider supporting Everest in the Alps. When Rob, the Father of Toby (and the driving force behind Everest in the Alps) met with Secret Compass and the AGS team, we all realised that we were striving for the same thing - adapting to life changing injury through sport and adventurous challenge at the same time as encouraging others to support us. 

Everyone involved thought it was going to be a one-off event, and the fundraising total far outweighed everyone’s wildest dreams, especially Rob’s. It is now going to be scaled up annually – this year was the 3rdsuccessive year of the event taking place. 

The motivations of Cancer combined with wounded service personnel seems to encourage all of the participants to strive - the atmosphere is incredible and everyone pushes hard together. AGS is really honoured to be involved. 

Anyone can sign up no matter what your skiing ability is or record of previous sporting achievement – you just need to have the determination and dedication to train hard. It is a fantastic few days - a gruelling but hugely rewarding challenge and great fun: https://www.everestinthealps.com/information/

This has served as the perfect penultimate training session for your forthcoming expedition – taking on the ACTUAL Everest this Spring. 4 days in Verbier ski touring is a small undertaking in comparison to what you have coming up – but ideal training in terms of the continuous ascent for up to 8 hours per day. Tell us more about your training? 

‘Training for our Everest expedition was not the motivation behind being in Verbier, but we were in fact supporting other people to attain their ‘Everest’ and to support this incredible cause. We became involved with the inaugural ‘Everest in the Alps’ challenge and want to continue to be involved. It is the coming together of people with a strong will to do something to help The Brain Tumour Charity, as well as those with a motivation to push themselves through training and sport. We all have lots in common. It doesn’t matter that the challenge isn’t supporting those charities which the AGS supports – we all like to contribute to the efforts of others and it is of course fantastic training for us. 

We were ascending between 1500 - 2000 metres per day, and used this opportunity to carry our full Everest expedition pack weight, which is aprox 16kg’s to maximise the training opportunity’. 

You have just finished one final week of training abroad before returning to the UK. What were you doing, and why?
‘I have been in Klosters in Switzerland for the last week, assisting with the annual ‘Supporting Wounded Veterans’ ski challenge week – a ski camp for wounded and injured service personnel. It is not just a skiing holiday – but a mentoring programme which assists them with reintegrating into civilian society but at the same time offering them therapy in the fresh air and mountains and through the medium of adaptive sport. I am an Ambassador for the organisation, and am really honoured to be involved. I have found therapy through skiing as training myself, and I am therefore delighted to give my time to help others who are struggling post service, demonstrating to them that there are many others experiencing the same struggles, and that though coming together, we can succeed.  

I am really pleased to be able to use this week to help others, but of course have had the opportunity to undertake my own training for a few hours per day. I have been ski touring between 2000 -3000m of ascent per day, whilst carrying my full expedition pack weight, which will be 16-18 kg’s. I have also been mentoring other wounded during the week and have been a ski ‘buddy’ for those who have joined the ski camp. 

It has been a really positive way to spend my last week training before returning to the UK to have some much needed family time ahead of my departure for Kathmandu on Sunday 24 March.
I have had the time to train hard solo, but have also had time to reflect on and remember why we set up the AGS foundation – to encourage others with life changing injury and disability to strive for progress and accomplishment through sport. 

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Olympian Homes headline Everest sponsorship

OLYMPIAN HOMES SPONSORS ADAPTIVE GRAND SLAM EVEREST CHALLENGE

 

Olympian Homes is proud to support a team of British adventurers from Adaptive Grand Slam, who are on a mission to become the first disabled team in history to complete the notorious Explorer’s Grand Slam.

 

The Mount Everest attempt, which is being sponsored by Olympian Homes, will be the sixth challenge completed by the team, who have already walked to the North Pole and summited Mount McKinley, Mount Elbrus, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua using modified techniques and equipment.

 

Only a handful of climbers have completed all stages of the impressive Grand Slam feat, which entails summiting the highest peak on each of the seven continents and walking unsupported to the geographic North and South Poles.

 

The adventurers are on target to break four world records in becoming the first disabled team to walk unsupported to the geographic North Pole, the first disabled team to walk to the South Pole from the continental edge of Antarctica unsupported, the first disabled team to climb the seven summits and the first disabled team to complete the Grand Slam.

 

Mark Slatter, chairman of Olympian Homes, said:

 

Olympian Homes was formed 26 years ago and has a history of mixed use development including speculative residential, retail, hotel, student accommodation and built to rent residential accommodation. It has developed successful partnerships with a number of blue chip partners including Marks and Spencer, Balfour Beatty, Travelodge, Brookfield and now the Goldman Sachs and Welcome Trust owned IQ Students.

 

The ethos at Olympian is threefold, to make money, to enjoy our work and to put something back.

 

The Adaptive Grand Slam Foundation, founded and inspired by Martin Hewitt is providing a road to physical and mental recovery for numerous ex military and non military alike through the vehicle of extreme training and challenges and we are very proud to support it and help ‘put back’.

 

I met Martin on an Everest expedition in 2012 and was astounded by his unbounded positive outlook, his energy, stoicism and drive to better both his own circumstances and those of others. 

 

The AGS Foundation has the potential to change a great many more lives for the good. By participation, donation or support with your time, be a part of this journey.

 

Adaptive Grand Slam team leader and founder Martin Hewitt served for eight years as a commissioned officer with the Parachute Regiment. He was injured while leading his men in combat in Afghanistan, paralysing his right arm and ending his military career. In 2011 he walked unsupported to the Geographic North Pole joined by HRH Prince Harry as part of the Walking with the Wounded team.

 

The organisers and adventurers of Adaptive Grand Slam expeditions are ex-servicemen, civilian members of the disabled community, professional mountaineers, expedition leaders and supportive members of the extreme adventure community.

 

Martin Hewitt, founder of Adaptive Grand Slam, said:

 

“Many people with life changing injuries face a long process of rehabilitation, finding themselves thrown out of action and into the perplexities of physical and psychological obstacles and difficulties with self-acceptance. The Adaptive Grand Slam was established to select, train and develop disabled teams to tackle extreme expeditions and challenges to support the AGS foundation.

 

“The Grand Slam is considered, amongst seasoned mountain climbers and expedition leaders, as the height of expedition achievement and the AGS team are unique in that they have to rely on alternative ways and means of completing the challenge with their various disabilities. Each mission is undertaken by a small core team providing experience and continuity, with additional team members joining singular expeditions.”

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My mountain legs - AGS team member Mel Nicholls

AGS foundation fund new mountain crutches for Mel.

My Mountain Legs

 

To achieve any tough physical goal, takes training, determination, the right mindset and often the right team around you.  But for many para athletes like myself, mobility equipment can be one of our biggest barriers, or thankfully often, a means to going further, independence, and finding a new possible.  This was certainly the case for me when I had the opportunity to join the Adaptive Grand Slam team for their Chamonix challenge in October this year.

Since my last stroke resulting in loss of use of my left leg and reduced in the right, I have always walked through two crutches for mobility and balance when not having to use my wheelchair.  I walk and weight bear through my arms, so I have always found my every day crutches to hold me back when I have wanted to push further, or go onto different terrain such as rock, mud, snow and sand.  I am an endurance athlete and share the endurance engine and mindset to keep going, but integrating this with anything using my crutches has not been a successful option in the past due to lack of adaptability.

After a weekend training with the AGS team in Herefordshire, back in the summer, I was able to identify what I would need from a pair of crutches if I had any chance of joining the team on their Chamonix Challenge and attempting Gran Paradiso, however far.

There are limited options on the market currently, many variations of a standard crutches design but not for what I was going to need from them.  I was looking for full support, lightweight but robust for the challenges ahead and adaptable to rely on, on differing mountain terrain including snow and ice.  I have in the past tried using ice spike / crampon attachments to my crutches but these were not able to withstand any significant usage.

I knew of a company who did make something that I thought would be the best fit for what we were looking for, although based in Canada and at a much higher price than that of standard crutches, these have not been an option for me to try and I wanted to make sure they were up to the job.  After a lot of research around crutches design and discussions, with the support from AGS, I was able to purchase a pair of Boundless carbon fibre crutches from Sidestix https://www.sidestix.com along with an armoury of accessories that would hopefully enable me to go further and push harder than ever before.  Aside from being the only crutches to enable changeable accessories for different terrain, made to measure Sidestix Boundless crutches feature a unique shock absorbing feature which helps reduce joint compression, pain and fatigue; something that as long-term crutch user I find goes hand in hand.  I was keen to try these out, and once delivered, complete with an assortment of attachments and accessories, I put them to test just before leaving for the mountain.

There wasn’t much chance to get used to these new crutches before heading out, but it gave me a bit more confidence knowing I could use them with no obvious issues.  Because of the shock absorbing system, these crutches were noticeably heavier than what I am used to, but took the trial run well.  The real test was about to begin.

I’d been given carbon tubes and aluminium ones as an option for more hard-wearing use.  Although I agreed why the aluminium option was there, for our imminent challenge, I decided to go with the lighter carbon option in the crutches as I was already noticing the extra weight, before the huge challenge ahead of me.  In my backpack I’d packed the extra adaptions I’d need further up the mountain, a pair of substantial ice spikes and a set of snow shoe attachments complete with Vibram discs, along with the few small tools needed to make these changes.  I began my climb in the standard ferrules, though of a far greater standard of ferrule for this sort of thing than what I’m used to. Once needing to swap out the ferrules to adapt to changing terrain, it was just a case of undoing the bottoms of the crutches and replacing with the required adaption.

I can say I really put these crutches to the test on Gran Paradiso.  The first part of our climb to the mountain hut was fairly technical for me on my crutches and on a slippy rocky uneven ascending path.  The crutches performed well, and it wasn’t until we hit the snow level, which had reached much further down than expected, that I had any issue with slippage.  My hands also held up well, something that I have suffered with a lot in the past with blisters.

The following day was all about the snow and ice, so changing from ferrules to snow shoes and ice spikes was new territory in every way.  I steadily gained confidence in these new aids, it was surprising has secure and how competent they made me feel.  Although my feet were slipping a lot in my boots and me unable to control my legs, my crutches held strong and let me pull myself up the mountain with all my effort.  I was in a completely new environment in so many ways, and although incredibly tough, incredibly slow and frustrating at times, I was able to achieve far more than I ever thought I would, have before.  I was able to go further than I ever have before, thanks to my team, and thanks to having the right equipment, essentially being my mountain legs.

It was a good test for not just me, but my new adventure crutches on our challenge.  I had a few small teething issues that I have now addressed and improved for future adventures, but overall, I am really pleased to have found a new possible, and to have been able to explore this by having the right equipment that has enabled me to do so.

There is so much I am thankful to the Adaptive Grand Slam team for, and I am wholly excited for future challenges and what else is possible.

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AGS Chamonix Challenge

Our annual Chamonix challenge proved to be a great success. This year, we took are largest group to date with AGS team members and supporters. Here’s a quick summary.

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AGS Community weekend

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AGS Community weekend

Our latest AGS community weekend in rural Herefordshire went well and new applicants met some of our long standing team members. We're now working with our new team members to prepare them for the next challenge in Chamonix in October. 

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AGS Selection Weekend 2018

We'll be running a selection weekend for new team members for this years challenges from the 06-08 July 2018 in Herefordshire. Please get in touch on our contacts page or email info@adaptivegrandslam.com if you're interested in applying. Please note, there's no cost to beneficiaries attending our challenges or selection process. 

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Into The Unknown With Adaptive Grand Sam

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Into The Unknown With Adaptive Grand Sam

Sam's first summit attempt with Adaptive Grand Slam began in the dark. Wearing a head torch and tough new toe crunching boots, she was joined by AGS founder Martin Hewitt and AGS veteran Terry Byrne as she bid to reach the summit of Gran Paradiso.

Here's the moment Sam returned to the mountains for the first time since her accident.

We did it! I’m feeling very emotional and very proud but full of energy. I've only just found out that Gran Paradiso is the highest mountain in Italy!

In places it was really tough, especially at the end when we had to climb up rocks. My arm made this part difficult but I managed it anyway. Coming down was the hardest bit as you use muscles you wouldn’t normally use.

I haven’t really worn hiking boots before so one of my big toes is a little sore, but other than that I feel great. I was most worried about how I’d react to the altitude, I live in London, so I really had no idea what it would be like. I feel fine though.

Before my injury, I wasn’t really interested in climbing mountains. This was stepping completely into the unknown. I never thought I’d be able to do it, but hope it makes people realise that life doesn’t stop after an injury like mine. There’s always a way.

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