JAMIE McAnsh had always led an active, sporty life, but when he was diagnosed with a neurological condition that paralysed him from the waist down, he was determined to not be defeated, and to keep pushing his body to its limits.

This spring, the Cwmbran man will use his specialist crutches to hike thousands of metres to Everest base camp, fulfilling a lifelong dream and raising awareness about his little-known condition.

For months, doctors were stumped as to the cause of the "horrendous" pain in Mr McAnsh's back. After a string of tests came back negative, he was eventually diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a debilitating condition characterised by constant, often severe, pain.

"Even having a shower was like being hit by acid – the water felt like hot lava being poured over my body," Mr McAnsh said.

CRPS can be triggered by an injury or virus. In Mr McAnsh's case, it emerged following a bout of shingles.

After a long and gruelling recovery period, former climber and avid runner Mr McAnsh has regained some of his mobility, but he relies on crutches to help him walk.

He is still in pain every day. Sometimes, he said, the pain is so intense that he cannot move.


With his recovery has come a determination to prevent CRPS from getting in the way of his old lifestyle. He plays wheelchair rugby and has climbed Wales' tallest mountains using his SmartCrutches and their Flexifoot attachments. But things don't come much bigger than his next challenge – a trek to the 5,364 metre high base camp on the world's highest peak.

"I'm nervous but confident," Mr McAnsh said. "What scares me the most is how my body will cope with the altitude. Oxygen levels affect the neurological system, and I'm starting off with a weakness in mine."

Mr McAnsh usually finds some pain relief in lower back massages, and his partner, trained masseuse Charlott Fagergard, will accompany him on the trip, which has been funded by travel firm Evertrek.

The couple will reach base camp on May 11, and the next day – which is Mr McAnsh's 39th birthday – they will ascend a neighbouring mountain and watch the sun rise over Everest.

The challenge represents a personal milestone for Mr McAnsh, who was once so depressed following his diagnosis that he attempted suicide. Finding relief in sport and the outdoors, he began raising awareness about CRPS, and now gives motivational speeches at schools and events.

Ms Fagergard said they also wanted to raise the profile of CRPS in the medical world.

"Everyone I've spoken to who has CRPS was misdiagnosed," she said. "It took Jamie 13 months... but if [Type 1 CRPS] is diagnosed early enough, it can be reversed."

Mr McAnsh is a beacon of optimism as he talks about the Everest challenge.

"Not trying is the biggest failure I can do," he said. "I want to show people what can be achieved if you don't give up."

Mr McAnsh is raising money for charity Burning Nights-CRPS Support. The cost of the Everest trip is being funded by Evertrek, and all money raised will go to the charity.

For more information or to donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jamiesclimbtoeverest

Mr McAnsh will also share his story at a series of talks this week, held in Usk Conservative Club (Wednesday, 6pm), Milton Hotel Llanwern (Thursday, 6pm), and Greenmeadow Golf Club (Saturday, 2pm). Book tickets at seenobounds.co.uk/events