Northumberland adventurer completes his latest challenge by scaling one of the world's toughest peaks

Ever since scaling the summit of Cheviot when he was a little boy, Jamie Wood has been fascinated by mountains.

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 4:44 pm
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 2:37 pm
Jamie Wood with the Northumberland flag on Ama Dablam.

Now he has conquered one of the world’s toughest and most coveted peaks, Ama Dablam, in the shadows of Mount Everest in the Himalayas.

However, the climb to the 8,812m (22,349ft) summit was not without drama as some of the party had to be airlifted off the mountain suffering from frostbite.

“It’s a formidable mountain to climb,” admitted the father-of-three from Prendwick Farm, Whittingham, near Alnwick.

Northumberland climber Jamie Wood on Ama Dablam.

“It was first climbed in 1961 and was deemed unclimbable by the original pioneers heading towards Everest.”

Jamie and his Sherpa-led party spent five days trekking up to base camp and then several more acclimatising to the altitude and getting ready for the final push to the summit.

Temperatures then plunged in what was the final week of the climbing calendar.

“It dropped to -46C with the windchill,” revealed Jamie. “Three of the lads got frostbite and two had to be helicoptered off the mountain to Kathmandu. And Ollie, my tent buddy, is unfortunately going to lose one of his toes.”

Jamie Wood with his wife, Nicola, and their three children, Olivia, Eliza and Penelope, at Prendwick Farm, near Whittingham.

On summit day, the team also had to contend with strong winds which blew fresh snow on what is a vertical climb in many parts.

“We set off at 2am and they were pretty difficult conditions,” he admitted.

“We got locked into an area of the mountain called Mushroom Ridge for about 40 minutes while one of the Sherpas went to sort out one of the ropes that had been buried by snow higher up.

“That’s when the wind picked up. We’d had about five inches of snow the night before and it was just blowing around.

Closing in on the summit of Ama Dablam.

“We were concerned about going any further but we carried on and made it to the summit. It was only when we got back down that the consequences became clear.

“Luckily, I was okay, apart from a little frostbite to my nose,” said Jamie. “I was testing some new gear from Montane in Ashington and it was brilliant.”

The 40-year-old is an experienced adventurer, having won a 350-mile race to the North Pole, the Polar Challenge, in 2008.

At one time he had ambitions to climb the highest mountains in each of the seven continents, having ticked Russia’s Mount Elbrus, Europe’s Mont Blanc and South America’s Aconcagua off his bucket list.

Ama Dablam.

However, he acknowledges that may be difficult now with restrictions on the number of climbers on Mount Everest, not to mention his own fitness.

“I’ve been up Cheviot more times than I can remember,” he reveals. “I used to drag tyres up there while training for my North Pole trip.

“I also did a lot of Munros when I was at boarding school in Edinburgh and was in the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) Army.

“It was after I broke my back playing rugby for Alnwick, when I suffered four compressed fractures, that my focus moved towards adventures.

“I suffered a bad knee injury that put me out of action for four years though so this was my first time in the Himalayas.

“I’ve got metal bits in my knees so I don’t know how many more I can do. Every time it involves a lot of fitness work and trips to the physio.”

He admits: “I wanted to do Everest, and hopefully will one day, but there is lots of legislation going through to limit the number of people who can climb it.

“I’ve also been told that if you’ve climbed Ama Dablam you can walk up Everest no problem!

“The Sherpas who were with me on this trip had summited Everest 76 times and one of the lads, who was 35, was a 32-time summiteer. They said that it’s quite an easy mountain to climb but it’s the altitude that gets you.

“With Ama Dablam the difficulty was that it’s a technically hard mountain with a lot of vertical ascending and climbing. You couldn’t climb it like a rock climber because it was so cold your fingers would freeze.”

Even after returning to the UK he could feel the effects of the altitude on his body.

“When you’re up at high altitude, your body produces acids to compensate but when you come back down your body doesn’t know what is going on,” explained Jamie. “It’s a weird feeling, like a tidal wave of tiredness.”

However, he now has to get on with the early starts that come as part of the job for a hill farmer looking after 200 cattle and 3,000 sheep over 2,800-acres of land.

And, of course, make up for the month he has been away from his wife, Nicola, and children Olivia, Eliza and Penelope.

“They’re very understanding,” said Jamie. “I actually got engaged to Nicola when I was at the North Pole and rang her up. She knows the passion I have for the outdoors.

“And I was able to FaceTime the children this time because a lot of the Nepalese villages now have 4G which was incredible.

“My wife actually didn’t tell them when I was coming home so when they came back from school the other day I was standing in the house waiting for them which was lovely.”