On January 24th 1999 Jamie Andrew and climbing partner, Jamie Fisher set off from Chamonix to attempt the North face of the 4000m Alpine peak of Les Droites. By the time they reached the top of the climb, two days later, a fierce storm had blown in and they dug in for the night. That storm continued for another five days. On January 31st they were finally reached by a rescue helicopter. By then Andrews was hypothermic and severely frostbitten. Fisher was dead.
As Reinhold Messner said in his book ‘All Fourteen 8000ers’ Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous’.
Now a quadruple amputee, Jamie has been climbing and preparing for the film with Roger Payne, British Mountain Guide and accomplished mountaineer. I was helping with the mountain logistics and safety for the camera team.
Jamie is an inspiration and puts most able bodied people to shame with his enthusiasm, dedication and sheer effort he devotes to life and sport in particular, including climbing, mountaineering or running a marathon.
By early summer the plans for the film were well advanced but on the morning of the 12th June 2012 tragic news arrived….
There has been a major avalanche on Mont Maudit in the Chamonix region. Nine climbers are confirmed dead – including former general secretary of the BMC and mountain guide Roger Payne.
Dave Turnbull, the current British Mountaineering Council chief executive, said: The mountaineering world is shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of Roger Payne, former BMC general secretary and ex-president of the British Mountain Guides. Roger was one of the UK’s most enthusiastic and respected climbers with a track record of Alpine and Himalayan mountaineering stretching back to the 1980s.
Please read ‘Roger Payne: a look back on his life‘ by Ed Douglas.
A Memorial Fund has been set up to support the causes that were close to Rogers heart. To donate…
Roger approached the film’s preperation with his typical style. He was a hugely talented Alpinist who had climbed in the Himalaya on many occasions, however I will remember him for the way he embraced projects that would benefit others less capable than himself and he would always take care of the bureaucracy that nobody else wanted to do. He was always on the go, with a big smile, doing something that was different and that mattered.
When we watch and enjoy climbing and adventure sports movies we must realise that they portray a real world and not ‘Hollywood fiction’. That avalanches and falls have consequences that all too often can lead to injury or death of both athletes and film crew.
Why we climb, and in particular why we risk our lives taking part in adventure sports is a complex question to answer. I climb because I enjoy it: the challenge, the deep fulfilment, the mates and the the wonderful places it takes me to. But in my opinion George Mallory’s simple answer in the New York Times, March 18th 1923 article CLIMBING MOUNT EVEREST IS WORK FOR SUPERMEN has never been bettered: ‘Because, its there’
Thanks Brian Hall