The charity provides education and care for children and young adults with complex physical disabilities.
Sam’s latest venture will take him to Argentina and the challenge of Aconcagua – a mountain once sacred to the Incas. At nearly 7,000m (23,000 ft), Aconcagua is the highest peak outside of Asia. It is believed to have the highest death rate of any mountain in South America –which has earned it the daunting nickname “Mountain of Death”.
Any attempted ascent has to be planned meticulously and any would be climber must be physically and mentally ready for the formidable challenge.
After training for more than six months Sam is keen to get out to Argentina and begin the process of acclimatization -not just to the altitude but to the extreme weather that make Aconcagua extra demanding on the mountaineers who attempt the ascent.
Sam said: “Aconcagua is the precursor for people who want to climb Everest, due to its turbulent weather and extremes of temperature which at this time of year (Argentina’s summer) can range from -8 Celsius by day at the base camp to -30C on the summit. It is a brutal but awesome challenge.”
Covid has delayed Sam’s trip by two years and put added pressure on his training regime. But support from his wife Natasha, a personal trainer, a six-month fitness programme devised by former Paratrooper PT Lee Strange and regular 25k walks on the South Downs carrying a 32kg pack, have all combined to ensure Sam is in top form for his challenge.
Sam’s passion for testing himself to the limit started 7 years ago with a Tough Mudder event and then the Three Peaks Challenge. He graduated to Kilimanjaro and then to a 16-day survival course in the Amazon where he lived with an indigenous tribe and learned from their expert knowledge of the jungle.
Every adventure is self-funded but Sam enjoys sharing his success and uses his challenges to raise money for charity. The Aconcagua attempt will support the Chailey Heritage Foundation, whose work with children and young people with extreme physical and learning challenges has inspired Sam.
Will Folkes, Chailey Heritage Centre’s Fundraising Manager said: ”We are so excited to be a part of Sam’s epic adventure. Every year we encourage hundreds of our supporters to sign up for a challenge. This year we’ve got places at the Brighton Half Marathon, Bungee Jumping and Skydiving – all our events will inspire the participants and change young lives at CHF. We wish Sam every success and a safe ascent.”
Sam’s inspiration comes from supporting CHF and as he says: “Aconcagua is a tough one, only 30% of attempts on the summit are successful. One of the major challenges for me will be the weather. You can’t train for the cold and the lowest I’ve endured is -12C with wind chill! But there’s something magical about reaching a summit. It’s in the human DNA – from Devil’s Dyke to Kilimanjaro, it is quite magical”.
The Aconcagua expedition leaves on January 25, and after acclimatisation in the Andes Mountains and weather permitting, Sam will make his attempt on the summit around 9 February.
He is already planning his next adventures – a trip to the Canadian Wilderness in June and crossing across the Atlantic in the Talisker Whisky Rowing Race in 2025!
Sam is fundraising for CHF with Just Giving Donate to Sam here
There is more information on CHF’s challenges at www.chf.org.uk/challenge-events.html