In the summer of 2014, Chris Gwilt and Karl Hinett, both WWTW Everest 2012 expedition team members, will embark on the Matterhorn, one of the highest peaks in the Alps and situated in the Pennine Alps between France and Switzerland.
Chris and Karl met on the WWTW Everest expedition, Chris was part of the base camp team and Karl the summit team, both successfully summiting Manaslu together during their Everest training. Manaslu, located in the Himalayas, is the 8th highest mountain in the world and stands at 8,156m, a fantastic achievement.
Chris and Karl have also climbed Mt Blanc together, the highest peak in Europe, and it was whilst summiting this majestic peak that they set their sights on the more serious undertaking of the Matterhorn.
The Support of Edison
While Chris was taking part in the 2013 WWTW Cumbrian Challenge he joined one of the teams. It was during the hike that Chris got chatting to Peter Bristowe, one of the founders of Edison, who learnt of Chris’ ambition to get to the Matterhorn. Thanks to Edison, Chris and Karl now have the opportunity to train seriously in preparation, and to have a go at the summit. Many thanks to Edison for making this possible for them.
Standing at 4,478m, and overlooking the town of Zermatt, the Matterhorn is one of the most serious peaks in the Alps and was the last major Alpine summit to be climbed, the north face of the mountain was not summited successfully until 1931.
The summer attracts hoards of visitors and climbers who most often try to summit the mountain via the most popular northeast ridge, the Hörnli ridge. Chris and Karl will be undergoing some extensive mountain training in and around Chamonix and Zermatt with some of the most experienced mountain guides in the area, who specialize in Matterhorn ascents. The target summit window for Chris and Karl will be late July 2014.
Chris joined the Territorial Army (TA) in 2007, and was mobilised in November 2008 for operations in Afghanistan with the 2 Rifles.
A rocket propelled grenade (RPG) struck the wall behind Chris in July 2009 causing multiple shrapnel injuries to the back of his body above the waist. The blast also caused total deafness in both ears.
Karl joined the army at the age of 17 and after six months of training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick he left with the ‘Best Recruit’ award and joined The Staffordshire Regiment.
Karl was injured whilst serving in Basra, Iraq in September 2005. He was involved in a serious attack on his Warrior tank and received a direct hit from a petrol bomb which entered the turret of his Warrior, leaving Karl to try to escape whilst on fire. As a result, Karl received 37% burns to his hands, legs, arms and face.
Since his injury, Karl has spent a lot of time at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and he has grown to love the staff at the hospital and the amazing care he had received. After his last operation in 2010, he decided to dedicate a few years of his life to fundraise for the medical staff who helped save and rebuild his life. Karl has now run over 100 marathons worldwide to raise money for The QEH amongst other military charities.
Interview with Karl & Chris
Where did the idea of the Matterhorn come from and what does it mean to you?
Karl: When Chris and I were climbing Mont Blanc (see video below) we both enjoyed the challenge of climbing one of Europe’s most well known peaks. As we descended and celebrated our climb and luck with the weather, we both knew there were greater challenges out there and the one which came up in most conversations was the Matterhorn!
Now that the opportunity is here for us to make an attempt on this iconic peak, we’re both looking forward to this more technical and difficult climb.
Chris: Walking With The Wounded has given me the opportunity to be in mountains in the Alps and Himalayas and has changed my outlook on life to think that anything is possible. The training and climbing has helped me to overcome my own limitations with myself and being deaf. I am quite changed because of my involvement with the charity. The Matterhorn is beautiful and has a reputation for being tough, getting to the summit would fulfil a two year ambition. It’s more technical than the climbing I’m used to which is why I’m really looking forward to the challenge, as it’s something new.
What is your focus now, what are you working towards following your initial involvement with WWTW?
Karl: Sights are now set on my potential new career as I train in aviation, to eventually become a pilot. But between time in air and classroom, my free time is dedicated to training, most particularly long distance running with focus on marathon distance or longer. Currently to date I have completed 116 official marathon/ultra marathon races and still don’t feel content! I hope to use the running as a form of training for the Matterhorn, mostly because I live in the West Midlands and mountains here are non existent!
Chris: I am currently renovating a house, I have trained in tiling, plastering, brick laying and basic carpentry. Once this first project is complete I hope to start another one and then continue from there.