Special Forces Celebrity Duo Summit Nepal’s Ama Dablam

An expedition comprised of former Special Forces operatives-turned stars of our TV screens has commemorated Armistice Day by summitting a soaring peak in the eastern Himalayas.

Matthew ‘Ollie’ Ollerton and Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, both of whom served with the Special Boat Service, reached the summit of Ama Dablam, in Nepal’s Province No.1, at 6:30am local time (12:45am GMT) on 7th November. The pair, who have amassed millions of social media followers through their television fame, were accompanied by a team of former Special Forces soldiers and Royal Marines Commandos on the two-week expedition. Amongst the group was also Aldo Kane, a former Royal Marines sniper-turned record breaker and TV personality, famed for abseiling into the world’s most active volcano for a BBC documentary.

The group climbed the 6,812m (22,349 feet) high peak to honour the many British soldiers who have given their lives in conflict and in support of the Royal British Legion, marking the moment with a two-minute silence. A charity supported by Ollie, one of the founding Directing Staff on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, the Royal British Legion provides a lifeline for serving personnel, veterans and their families, supporting them in the face of hardships, injuries and bereavements. Its iconic Poppy Appeal aims to raise money for this vital work and brings communities and individuals together to honour the sacrifices of the Armed Forces community, past and present. A two-minute silence will be held on Armistice Day ‘at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’, when the hostilities of the First World War formally ended.

While the expedition was technically straightforward for Nims, the Nepalese Special Forces veteran-turned mountaineer whose record-breaking feat of summiting all 14 of the world’s eight-thousanders (peaks over 8,000m high) in just over six months was documented in Netflix’s 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, it was a challenging climb for the rest of the group. Ollie climbed Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps at 4,807m (15,771 ft), in 2018, but there is just under 9% atmospheric oxygen at an altitude of 6,800m, compared to 20% at sea level. Ollie described the feeling as like “breathing through wet leather”.

The expedition initially made a two-day hike from Lukla to Namche Bazaar, a town to the southwest of Mt Everest, in Nepal’s Khumbu region, where it spent a day acclimatising to the altitude at 3,440m (11,286 ft). From here it progressed to Deboche via the Tengboche Monastery, a Buddhist monastery sitting in the Sagarmatha National Park, and then Ama Dablam base camp at 4,800m (15,748 ft). After further training and acclimatisation, including hikes to Camps 1 (5,800m) and 2 (6,200m), the group summited on 7th November.

Outside of his TV fame, Ollie is passionate about the power we each have to reach our potential and runs a range of corporate and individual development programmes through his company BreakPoint. His expedition was sponsored by Terratoura, the all-terrain tyre by Davanti Tyres. With Terratoura’s fitted to his VW Amarok to ensure predictable, reliable handling when travelling from A to B for crucial outdoor training ahead of the challenge, Ollie was able to prepare for his summit over a range of challenging conditions.

Ollie said, “It was one of my life’s greatest privileges to be part of this expedition, accompanying a group of some of the bravest souls that I have been proud to call my military brothers up the steep faces of one of Nepal’s most celebrated peaks. The last three weeks have allowed us to reflect on our shared experiences and remember those we have lost along the way, and the moment we hit the summit was emotionally charged, to say the least. I knew I would come down the mountain a different person and this was so, so true.

“So that the Royal British Legion can continue its support of the Armed Forces community, we would ask people to give as generously as they can to the charity by visiting: www.justgiving.com/OllieOllerton.”

A Royal British Legion spokesperson said, “We are incredibly grateful to Ollie, Nims, Aldo and the team for encouraging people to donate to the Royal British Legion during their challenging climb. There are many ways to participate in the Poppy Appeal and Remembrance, from donating or wearing a poppy to taking a moment to reflect and remember the sacrifices of those who serve, past and present. By supporting the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, you are not only showing veterans, serving personnel and their families that you care, you are also helping the RBL to continue its vital work.”

Peter Cross, general manager at Davanti Tyres, said: “The whole team at Davanti wishes Ollie and his team our congratulations for successfully – and safely – summiting Ama Dablam, and the message that this achievement will spread. We have been exceedingly proud to support Ollie on this journey, helping him with the meticulous preparation that goes into such an endeavour. The ethos of our Terratoura tyres is adventure beckons, and this symbolises the partnership with Ollie and the nature of this incredible challenge perfectly. We would also entreat people to visit Ollie’s fundraising page for the Royal British Legion and give what they can.”

Donations can be made to Ollie’s Royal British Legion fundraising campaign by visiting: www.justgiving.com/OllieOllerton.