CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN is something that many of us would like to do, that some of us actually do, and that others among us can’t really be bothered with. Sounds like effort.
Climbing one of Ireland’s most famous mountains when it’s covered in snow in the middle of a freezing January probably doesn’t sound all that appetising for even the more hardcore of climbers.
Doing it on crutches? Well, that just sounds silly. But that’s exactly what 29-year-old Nikki Bradley did recently. And some quite spectacular photos were taken as a result.
Nikki has been battling a form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma since 2002, when she was 16. Since then she has struggled through a double-hip replacement while trying to raise awareness regarding her illness. Now she faces the amputation of her right leg.
Ewing’s Sarcoma is a very rare bone cancer that commonly affects the pelvis. It is generally more common in males than in females.
The fact that she is facing a possible amputation has made Nikki determined to achieve as much as she possibly can in the meantime. So climbing a mountain like Donegal’s famed Errigal during the first snowfall of the year is perhaps a little more understandable.
The climb was “brilliant, I have to say” she tells TheJournal.ie.
“It was a lovely day, very cold, but very bright. It’s a tough one though, getting to the base of Errigal is a trek in itself and with crutches it’s especially difficult,” she said.
Thereafter it was a case of dealing with the elements – driving hail and wind. But it was everything I could have wanted from my first adventure of 2016.
The view from the top was unlike anything I have seen in Ireland. You had to be there really.
The Errigal climb is a sort of preparation for Nikki’s next challenge – to climb the Skaftafell glacier in Iceland. The reason for the trip is a sobering one:
“I had bad news from my consultant in Birmingham last year – I have a suspected infection in my hip and my options for further surgery are as limited as can be,” she says.
I’ll find out soon whether I get to keep my leg or not.
Nikki founded Fighting Fit For Ewing’s in 2013, in response to finding that a charity event she had set up had left her somewhat excluded from her own event because of the limitations of her illness.
Now she concentrates her time on raising awareness for her very rare disease – by focusing upon her own physical achievements.
She regularly organises physical challenges to highlight the importance of exercise for rehabilitation while raising awareness for Ewing’s Sarcoma.
“Knowing what could be ahead, I just think, rather than sitting around, it’s better to cram as much fun activity into my life as possible,” says Nikki.
Losing my leg wouldn’t be the end of everything, but it’s a nice moment to push myself. I’ve surprised myself really, with what I’ve done.
Like Errigal was a lot more difficult that I expected, but there is no challenge I’ve had to walk away from yet.
As a long term crutch user, she is well aware of the risks associated with climbing in conditions like those seen on her recent Errigal expedition.
But that won’t stop her from continuing to push the bracket as far as she can.
She’ll head to Iceland next, taking with her photographer Paul Doherty, the man responsible for these amazing shots, a physio and a climbing expert.
“I’ve never been before, so it’s all new for me really,” she says.
The word inspiration gets thrown around quite a bit, but we think it’s safe to say that Nikki fits the bill.
The climb of the Icelandic glacier later this year will be a sponsored event. If you’d like to get involved you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information