Pushing the limits without legs: Andy Campbell 30,000 miles to go

Posted: Jun 19, 2012 09:34 pm EDT

(Newsdesk) Eight years ago, in 2004, Andy Campbell pushed himself away from a rockface to begin an abseil decent on a mountain; it ended in a fall, immediately paralyzing him. He lost the use of his legs and his army career, but he kept his life and his ambition, he says on his website.

Andy learned to ski, sitting down. He learned to paraglide, kayak, mountain bike, scuba dive, and again to rock climb, this time without the use of his legs.

This led to him embarking on a 30,000 mile journey across 4 continents on June 7th. The first stage is a 90-day journey by off-road wheelchair, handcycle, paraglider, or kayak from London across Europe. Asia and the America will follow. He has a support team with a 4x4 vehicle traveling along.

“I searched out challenges that allowed me to escape the ugly concrete and urban environments best suited to a wheelchair wherever I could, feeding my desire for adventure and exploration,” he says.

The start

Andy started from the Royal Geographic Society in London, heading towards Dover to cross by ferry to Europe.

On his wheelchair he moved from the RGS towards the River Thames to paddle out of London. Things were tough from the start; bad weather set in and he reported strong winds and “rowdy conditions” on the water.

Andy explains in his blog, “Eventually things were bad enough that I was receiving warning calls from the coastguard, telling me to get off the river as soon as possible. Luckily I’d already made the decision to get ashore as quickly as possible, just before the wind began to gust upwards of 40mph.”

“A call on the radio to Adrian and Steve in the Land Rover and they were quickly with me as I beached the kayak and was thankful to be on dry land safely. Since becoming paralyzed I’ve not been able to self-right a kayak with an eskimo-roll, so in any event of a capsize my only option is to bail out and take my chances in the water, not the best situation to be in.”

“For the expedition I’ve had a new kayak built, complete with 5ft outrigger, that provides much more stability on the water and means, hopefully, I won’t capsize. But with the conditions worsening I’d began to worry about losing my balance in the swell and furiously paddled back against the tide to reach a place to get out. An all out sprint to reach the shore that left me exhausted but glad to be upright still.”

Latest report is that Andy and his support team are in Belgium.

The route

Andy will be avoiding all major roads and “actively searching out the most interesting, adventurous and exciting route.” He is not setting out to follow a set path but instead looking to create one along the way, he says, “in reaction to opportunities and problems as they arise.”

“Each day will bring new challenges and opportunities, and each day I’ll be using my off-road wheelchair, handcycle, paraglider, or kayak to simply head out and explore, to find the most interesting route towards Tulcea [Romania].”


Campbell about the video below: “Life in a wheelchair can be boring. When I was paralyzed I couldn't imagine staying on concrete and flat ground, so I do whatever I can do get far away from it. I live to be in the mountains, I mountain.”

The team has set off on their 90 day expedition throughout Europe from the Royal Geographical Society, London, on June 7th. They will be travelling through Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and ending up in Romania in September. The video below documents the team's send off and details what they would like to achieve.

More details about the route plan according to the website:

The route is split between two consecutive legs; UK to China and then Alaska to Chile. Andy will leave the UK and cross Europe by wheelchair, handcycle, kayak and paraglider. Following The Danube from its source in Austria to the Black Sea and Ukraine before heading onward to China, passing through Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Shipping the support vehicle, equipment and team members from China to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska the expedition will continue down to the Southern tip of Chile through The Americas.

Its route, distance and method of travel make it a truly unique expedition never before attempted that will hold many challenges along the way, some highlights include:
Source-to-Sea navigation of The Danube.
Paragliding across Kazakhstan.
Kite-buggying across the Gobi Desert.
Crossing the Great Wall of China in a wheelchair.
Avoiding bears whilst handcycling through Alaska.
Kayaking the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to The Gulf of Mexico.
Pushing a wheelchair through Central America on the Pan-American Highway.
Crossing the Darién Gap.
Reaching Tierra del Fuego, the southern most tip of South America.

Andy Campbell’s expedition raises money to provide disabled people with equipment to live and explore.


The Polar skier and the blind man: Another river paddle by Howard Fairbank and Imtiaz (Imi) Moosa

Annapurna current: no stopping amputee climber Zsolt Eross

This expedition (and other expeditions with RSS feeds) can be followed in the Dispatches stream at the Pythom app and at ExplorersWeb

ExplorersWeb Expedition List

#Oceans #Air #Trek #Medical #topstory

“The more I tasted freedom the greater my appetite became and I realized the only way to ensure something’s impossible is to not try, to accept failure and physically stop.” Image of Andy Campbell’s sit-ski; he has never skied before the accident.
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE
“When I’m in the mountains I feel more at home than anywhere else, to me they're the only place that gives me freedom and that brings a feeling of complete calm that’s makes nothing else matter, time slows down and it's the coolest feeling in the world.”
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE
“What started as a selfish desire to go out and have fun has grown into a self-imposed obligation to help convince others that ignoring the nagging fears of failure or insecurity and taking a risk upon their ambition is always a worthwhile effort.”
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE
"Each day will bring new challenges and opportunities."
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE
“Stubbornness and a healthy dose of rebellion got me almost everywhere I wanted to be, and to places I’d never thought possible before.”
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE
Andy about kayaking the Thames on Day 1 in too bad weather: "Since becoming paralyzed I’ve not been able to self-right a kayak with an eskimo-roll, so in any event of a capsize my only option is to bail out.”
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE
Andy and his support team on Day 1.
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE
Andy Campbell.
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE
Route plan for the next 2 years.
courtesy Andy Campbell, SOURCE

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