Lucky Weston climbers to take on Mont Blanc again

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 June 2013

Jason Smith at the summit of Ben Nevis.

Jason Smith at the summit of Ben Nevis.

Jason Smith

A GROUP of Weston friends, some of whom escaped an avalanche last year during a Mont Blanc climb, have decided to take on the challenge again.

Jason Smith, of Wick St Lawrence, tackled the dangerous peak this time last year with a couple of friends, as well as other British and European climbers, and narrowly avoided one of the worst European mountaineering accidents.

With storms coming in, Jason’s team decided to head home and it was only when they touched back down in Bristol airport that they heard the decision to quit had saved their lives.

The avalanche which hit on July 12 last year killed nine climbers – three of which were Britons – in just a few seconds above the French town of Chamonix.

Jason, aged 43, said: “In the afternoons there were big storms but in the evenings it was lovely. We opted to come back as one of our team members also had a bad ankle.

“It was very sad and this is one of the reasons why we wanted to go back, as well raise money for Weston Hospicecare.”

Jason has been training hard for the past nine months, along with Weston friends Matt Wilcox, James Royle, Keith Trask, Paul Harrington and Paul Davies.

Jason, of Juniper Place, has been climbing for the past 20 years and said: “Everyone has been focused on training. We took on Mount Snowdon and Scafell Pike in one day and we have also completed some ice climbing on Ben Nevis.

“It’s very exciting but at the same time we have the pressure of possible altitude sickness and lack of oxygen.

“I know it will be emotional and probably not all of us will reach the summit.

“All of the people who lost their lives will be on our minds constantly.”

Jason also said the potential dangers they will face makes the challenge even more exciting, and feels it is worth it in the hope of raising £5,000 for such a good cause.

He added: “The work the hospice does is phenomenal.

“I have been lucky enough not to have close family use its care but I speak for so many friends whose families have used it.

“It’s such an invaluable service and we want to shout it from the mountain top.”

To support Jason and his team visit www.justgiving.com/MontBlanc2013MendipChallenge or to monitor their progress on Twitter follow @2012_MontBlanc

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