Leo will support the former professional rugby player and incomplete quadriplegic as he tackles the 4,809m peak in September. If successful, Ed will become the first incomplete quadriplegic to summit the highest peak in the Alps.
In 2017, Ed Jackson dislocated his C6/C7 vertebrae and exploded a disc, causing him to lose 8mm of spinal cord, which left him as an incomplete quadriplegic for life. The year following his accident, Ed moved from having flickers of movement in his toes to pushing his body to its limits up mountains. He co-founded Millimetres 2 Mountains alongside his wife Lois and rugby player Olly Barkley. The charity seeks to promote and provide access to the outdoors, while inspiring others to redefine their limitations through exploration and adventure, especially those experiencing mental health challenges. Ed is determined to reach the summit of Mont Blanc to demonstrate that there are no limits to what people can achieve when they set their minds to it.
At the age of 40, Leo Houlding is a veteran of over a dozen major expeditions around the world. He has led teams with many different levels of experience in some of the harshest conditions on the planet, and is now preparing Ed Jackson for the challenge of Mont Blanc.
Leo and Ed are both members of the Berghaus team of ambassadors, and will be using the brand’s latest high performance kit. Berghaus is committed to making the outdoors accessible to all, while actively encouraging and helping people from all backgrounds to participate. The company’s product team has made multiple bespoke adaptations to items of clothing and equipment for Ed, that will help him and Leo achieve their goal on Mont Blanc. The two climbers have been testing these out while training for their expedition in the Lake District, ahead of a planned departure from the UK in mid-September. A short film of Leo and Ed talking about the trip and the specific challenges facing Ed can be viewed at www.instagram.com/tv/CQQpeSQHz_c.
Leo Houlding comments: “I’ve always got a kick out of introducing people to steep terrain but when Ed first approached me about Mont Blanc I was hesitant. I didn’t know what he meant by incomplete quadriplegic and it’s a serious mountain for anybody. But after a day on Scafell seeing Ed’s steely determination, what his disabilities still allow him to do and being around his infectious positivity and good humour, I figured that with a lot of effort and a bit of luck we stand a safe shot at the summit. Ed’s Millimetres 2 Mountains ethos, that the top of the mountain is not the destination but just another goal along the way, is valuable to all of us and a message I’m proud to help promote.”
Ed Jackson comments: “Leo Houlding is someone who goes beyond himself and pushes human and physical limits. He’s inspired me and I’m delighted that he’s agreed to guide me for the challenge of climbing Mont Blanc. Like me, both Leo and the team at Berghaus are passionate about making the outdoors accessible to everyone, so this is an ideal partnership. I am so proud and honoured to have the opportunity to set out on this expedition and am very excited about getting started.”