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Bridport man's challenge for Afghanistan Trust
11:24am Thursday 24th October 2013 in News
EX-PARA Tom Watts, 30, from Bridport conquered the highest mountain in the Alps when he climbed Mont Blanc in 2011.
Even after what turned out to be an extremely challenging ascent he had already set his sights next month on his latest adventure – a 22-day expedition to Aconcagua in the Andes, considered the highest trekking route in the world at 6,959m (22,830ft).
The former Charmouth and Sir John Colfox student still works in security in Afghanistan and took on Mont Blanc to raise money for Help for Heroes and to honour his fallen comrades in the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment.
His latest challenge will raise money for The Afghanistan Trust.
Tom said: “I couldn’t think of a better charity to raise money for, than the Afghanistan Trust.
“Donations will aid injured soldiers in their rehabilitation and help with mobility, training and future employment, accommodation and transport costs for families to visit the wounded and for the bereaved to attend remembrance services.”
Mr Watts left school after his GCSEs and then spent six years with the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment.
After leaving he made a career in the private security industry.
He said: “I was running armed escorts for convoys over the whole of Iraq from 2005 to 2007, it was at this time that I lost some close friends who I had served in the Parachute Regiment with or who I was working with out there, this made my choice of charity much easier.”
He saw active duty with them in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan and lost good friends in conflicts there.
Still working in Afghanistan he finds mountain walking a way to relax and test himself.
His ascent of the 15,782 ft Mont Blanc was delayed until he only had a three-day ‘window’ and a five per cent chance of getting to the summit in gale force winds.
Despite weeks of practice with rock climbing, abseiling, rope-work, crevasse rescue techniques, navigation and two practice climbs up Pte de Vouasson at 3.489 metres and Pigne d’Arrola at 3.790 metres, Tom found the going very tough.
He said: “I found the climb very challenging but I had a focus to aim for and kept on breaking it into little steps and kept the legs moving.”
He will have to keep those legs going for a lot longer when he does his trek in November.
Anyone who wants to sponsor him can do so at justgiving/TomWatts2.
This trip will be a stepping stone to Tom’s first 8,000-plus metre peak on the Tibet/Nepal border, called Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth highest mountain.