After a road crash in Bridlington almost 20 years ago, Allan Clayton was warned he might not walk again.
Now, he is close to completing a challenge to scale the equivalent of the height of Mount Everest, with a series of climbs around the UK.
Once he has reached the peak of Roseberry Topping, Snowdon and Ben Nevis in the next two months, he will have passed 29,000ft
“I set myself a challenge and I have to do it,” he said.
“My story is one of climbing over the toughest physical and mental challenges, feeling the highest highs and crushing lows. Now is the time to really see what I can do.”
He set himself the goal of reaching the summit of what he calls ‘Ever-ish’ in eight months, the period of time he took to learn to walk again after his life-changing accident.
Allan, now 36, suffered serious spinal injuries in a road crash in Jewison Lane in 1999, and he was told he had a 20% chance of being able to use his legs again.
He defied the odds, but lives with a warning from doctors that he might be in a wheelchair by the time he is 40.
“My physical ability now is a day-to-day struggle,” admits Allan. “I cannot walk more than 50 yards without a rest and have to push through the pain with every footstep.”
He originally planned 22 climbs to reach his target, but the maths behind the challenge became more complicated when he factored in the height above sea level. So he has had to add in a couple of ‘Ever-ish extras’ into his schedule to make sure he has hit the correct height.
“If I came down from the last one and discovered I wasn’t over 29,000ft above sea level, I would be disappointed in myself.”
After his accident, Allan struggled with mental health issues and eventually he left Bridlington to live in Leeds for a fresh start and is currently training to be a counsellor and has worked as a motivational speaker.
However, he is finding his actions are proving to be an inspiration to others, thanks to his post on social media.
He has made contact with a man in America who, inspired by Allan’s exploits, pushed himself to walk in the countryside and different terrains, and he met a lady in Bridlington who was unable to walk after an accident, but Allan went to meet her and encouraged her to walk five yards unaided.
“It is inspiring other people, which is the greatest reward. And I have been getting so much support from friends and family, including my dad Allan, who are coming out and helping me,” he said.
“It’s hard work but I couldn’t do it without the people around me.”
Roseberry Topping in the North York Moors proved to be the catalyst for his Ever-ish challenge, as Allan was fascinated by its appearance – ‘if you were asked to draw a mountain, that’s what you would draw’.
He added: “My girlfriend lives at the bottom of Roseberry Topping. I kept looking at it and thinking I wanted to climb it.
“On December 28 last year, I went and did it. From there I thought about the Yorkshire Three Peaks, but I knew I could do that. And I wanted to find my breaking point, mentally and physically.
“So I came up with the idea of climbing the equivalent of Everest, by going around the UK.”
He believes he is the first person with a spinal cord injury to climb two Lake District peaks in the same weekend, and has already conquered some of Yorkshire’s tallest mountains, including Pen-Y-Ghent and Whernside.
“I might not see these views again,” he said. “It could be my last chance. It’s brilliant when you get up there – you are building a sense of achievement all the time.
“The nature of the challenge means I can’t give up. I’m in the middle of nowhere so nobody can drive and pick me up.”
As well as the personal challenge, Allan, who was born in Bridlington and went to Headlands School, is raising money for SPINE and Turning Point.
SPINE is based at Pinderfields Hospital, where he was treated as a teenager, while Turning Point is a counselling service in Brighouse, where he volunteers.
He has already raised more than £1,500. You can donate at www.gofundme.com/climbing-everest-everish-challenge