Success for Morson-sponsored Mount Elbrus challenge veterans

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James Kenealey

by James Kenealey on


  • Success for Morson-sponsored veterans challenge for mental health and PTSD

  • Jake Gardner recalls the journey and looks to his next challenge

Morson Group recently sponsored the successfully completed Wilderness Navigators’ Mount Elbrus challenge, undertaken by two forces veterans to raise money for mental health and PTSD.

Taking place in September 2019, the challenge saw two forces veterans, Jake Gardner and Samuel Dean, attempt to climb the highest summit in Europe. One of the fabled Seven Summits and with an elevation of 5,000m, the dormant volcano of Mount Elbrus sits in the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia near the border with Georgia.

Passionate about climbing, Jake served in Afghanistan in 15 Sqn as a Royal Air Force Regiment Gunner. It was during Herrick 17 that he was injured in 2013, resulting in his medical discharge in February 2015.

A leader and navigator, Sam Dean served alongside Jake in Afghanistan with 15 Sqn and has since served in multiple countries around the world.

Morson spoke to Jake about the climb and his goals for the future:

“It went really well. We spent six or seven days at 3,800m acclimatising in the surrounding area. It was a nice slow program. The weather window was perfect for us, the team gelled well and we all had a good time. On summit day, we set off around 2am and managed to reach the West peak at around 11am. I’d say we were doing around 3mph on average, but we were overtaking other groups of climbers.”

Having summited one of the taller Seven Summits in 2017, Aconcagua in Argentina, Jake found himself more used to the tough undertaking:

“The actual climb itself was really tough on a couple of the team. I’d been to altitude before but the other two guys, Deano and Tom, struggled. At that altitude, the air is so much thinner which makes breathing more difficult. Tom in particular, he’d been injured in the armed forces with a gunshot wound to the chest. Fortunately, we had two guides so one could stay with him if he slowed down. There were a couple of point where we weren’t sure we were all going to get there.”

Despite the struggles, the whole team managed to reach the peak in good time, and Jake took part in a bonus mini-expedition to the other of the two peaks:

“I managed to get to East and West peaks on the same day which was amazing. When we reached the top of the West peak the guide mentioned the prospect of doing the East one too which I did. Once the other guys got to the top they went back down almost straight away. But they’ve learned a lot moving forwards in terms of physical fitness and coping with altitude.”

Not ones to rest easy after this undertaking, eyes have already moved towards the next of the Summits to tick off the list.

“For me, it’s Everest next, the big one. I’ve been in talks with a company to do it in 2021. If possible, I’d like to squeeze Kilimanjaro in next year too.”

Preparing for Mount Everest would prove to be a much more intense undertaking than Mount Elbrus. Climbers can expect to spend six or seven weeks in the Everest region, acclimatising and preparing to ascend the 8,848m mountain.

Jake has eyes on another endurance challenge in the near future, which Morson will also be sponsoring. Check back on the blog soon to find out more.

Currently, Morson Forces has in excess of 2,500 ex-military contract and permanent staff from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF, working across a variety of client projects in the UK and overseas. Search our forces friendly jobs here

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