Wednesday, 10 November 2021 11:48

Berghaus Adapts aims to make the outdoors more accessible for all

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Berghaus has announced details of a new initiative that will support the company’s vision that the outdoors should be accessible for all.

Working closely with recovering quadriplegic Ed Jackson, the brand has launched Berghaus Adapts, to demonstrate that with the right support, guidance and kit, any adventure is possible. The introduction of Berghaus Adapts follows a successful pilot project that saw Berghaus make a number of product adaptations for Ed’s recent expedition to the Alps with Leo Houlding.

Leo Houlding left and Ed Jackson in the Alps credit Berghaus and In The Dark ProductionsLeo Houlding (left) and Ed Jackson in the Alps - Photo: Berghaus and In The Dark Productions

Ed Jackson is a former professional rugby union player who, in 2017, fractured multiple vertebrae in his spine. Doctors warned him that he may never walk again. Already a very keen outdoor enthusiast, Ed has since confounded the experts and found a way to return to the mountains time and again. He has been supported in that by Berghaus and this year, he set his sights on climbing two peaks in Switzerland in 48 hours, Allalinhorn (4,027m) and Weissmies (4,017m), with guidance and assistance from fellow Berghaus athlete Leo Houlding. In preparation for the climb, Berghaus worked with Ed and made a number of kit adaptations to overcome some of his medical and mobility barriers, and enable him to continue his adventures in the mountains.

This was the first step for Berghaus Adapts, part of the brand’s long-term vision to ensure that its kit empowers everyone to access the outdoors. Berghaus developed bespoke solutions to help Ed overcome the following:

  • Essential access to support systems: Ed uses a catheter bag, which without specialist kit, would be tricky to access during the expedition. To overcome this challenge, an additional zip with a large toggle was created on Ed’s trousers, enabling him to access his catheter bag in a quicker and easier manner.
  • Assisting agility: As a result of suffering from Brown-Sequard Syndrome, Ed’s left side of his body is weaker and he has difficulty in lifting his foot and leg, as well as having impaired balance. Berghaus product experts were able to fix a handle to his left knee so that it could be lifted using Ed’s hand while climbing. During the climb, this adaptation proved to be invaluable and enabled Ed to climb 30% quicker on steeper snow slopes.
  • Enabling regular temperature control: Due to how inefficiently Ed moves, he exerts more energy than the average person, resulting in overheating. In addition, due to the damage to his spinal cord, he no longer sweats below the nipple line and therefore his body is also inefficient at cooling itself down. Having control over temperature regulations is vital while in the mountains and to combat this barrier, Berghaus created extra zip vents on Ed’s waterproof jackets including the upper back, arms and shoulders, for a quick cooling option without having to physically remove the jacket.

Berghaus intends to spread its net wider and is now on a mission to learn more about how the brand can use its unique expertise in kit adaptations to enable more people with physical disabilities to access the the outdoors. Following the expedition, the brand will expand its partnership with Ed’s charity, Millimetres to Mountains, to adapt kit for a number of its beneficiaries.

Ed Jackson in the Alps credit Berghaus and In The Dark ProductionsEd Jackson in the Alps - Photo: Berghaus and In The Dark Productions

Commenting on the challenge, Ed said: “I never thought it would be possible to take on these sort of climbs and I know many others who face similar barriers to me would feel the same. My goal for this expedition was to inspire others to get outdoors, to challenge themselves and to show that adventure can be accessible for everyone.

“The trip has acted as the best proving ground for Berghaus’ adaptations as well as my capabilities, and, with Leo’s expertise and guidance, we have shown how, with the right equipment and support, two ends of the climbing spectrum can be in the mountains together.”

To celebrate the completion of Allalinhorn (4,027m) and Weissmeis (4,017m), Ed and Leo created a short film, which documents their journey before, during and after the climb. The film ‘A Different Approach’ is being premiered during Kendal Mountain Festival from 18-21 November. In addition, the Berghaus Adapts product development process will be brought to life for the first time at the festival, with a unique exhibition in the Basecamp Village on Sunday 21 November.

Berghaus has published a blog post about its work on Berghaus Adapts with Ed Jackson, which can be found at www.berghaus.com/blog/people/berghaus-adapts-the-empowering-story-of-ed-jackson.