The Stephens Foundation was delighted to support Cliff Hands, from Fife, in one of the toughest challenges of his life. Cliff, an ex-paratrooper who now lives in Fife, completed a solo attempt on the Matterhorn, considered to be one of the most dangerous mountains in the world to climb.
Cliff is raising money for the Lomond Mountain Rescue Team, Support our Paras, which helps wounded soldiers and their families, and the Aberlour Childrens Trust who work with disadvantaged children in Scotland. All funds Cliff raised went directly to the charities, with Cliff meeting the costs of the expedition himself.
The Stephens Foundation was proud to be able to donate £600 to this incredible fund raising effort.
Cliff spent 12 years in the parachute regiment, seeing active service in Kosovo and Iraq as well as being part of a successful hostage rescue mission, working alongside the SAS, in Sierra Leone.
Cliff told us the story of his amazing adventure:
“When we all draw a mountain as kids, we all draw the Matterhorn, it’s steep edges are sublime in themselves. A magical mountain to gaze at.
I hadn’t climbed for at least 8 years from when I left the Parachute regiment, having climbed all over the world including the Himalayas in India.
I had been up in the Isle of Skye doing the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Christmas Day with a part Cuillin Ridge traverse, when I knew I had to get back into climbing. Using this, and plenty of training in Glencoe and the Nevis Range, I spent all my spare time training.
I knew I could do this with a combined charity awareness, but a solo attempt was something else.
On arrival in Switzerland, seeing the Matterhorn for the first time, I knew I had a huge task ahead of me.
Starting the climb at 6.00am, I made my way up near vertical walls, along with rock fall and a falling ice axe from another climber which just missed my head.
I made a traverse on to the North face which seems like madness but is actually easier climbing with axes and crampons. Making a summit at 11:30am. Spending far too much time at the top, I realised I had to start making my way down the Hornli ridge. I had caught up with a French couple who were struggling to get down in time thus helping the abseil to the Solvey Hut which a helicopter was called for their extraction. After helping them I was severely delayed and would be coming down in darkness. I continued down the mountain and then darkness hit me at 7:30pm, now exhausted and having to set up at least 20 belay pitches in darkness was a tough task. Reaching the bottom wall at 9pm.
With determination and a good mind set you can accomplish your dream.
I would at this point like to say a huge thank you to all the team at Stephens Bakery. I thank you all for supporting myself.
The Stephens Foundation congratulates Cliff on his incredible achievement in climbing the Matterhorn and raising so much money for three deserving causes:
Lomond Mountain Rescue Team
Support our Paras
Aberlour Childrens Trust