Sally’s pioneering wheelchair Nevis bid is summit else


By Michael MacLeod

A BRAVE Scotswoman has vowed to become the first person to climb Ben Nevis unaided in a wheelchair.

Sally Hyder, 47, who has multiple sclerosis, says she will not be “shackled down by this stupid disease.”

She is currently training to take on Britain’s highest mountain in a battery-powered off-road wheelchair in August.

And although wheelchair users have reached the 4,406ft-peak before, the path is so steep at the top that they have previously had to be carried to the summit.

But Edinburgh-based Sally, said she will even get out and crawl if she has to.


She said: “I am aiming to be the first to get up unaided.

“If the machine gives up, I’m going to crawl.

“I’m going to get to the top without somebody carrying me.

“Getting to the top of Ben Nevis is not a done deal, but if I manage it, I will be absolutely ecstatic.

“I will feel this total exhilaration and freedom, instead of being shackled down by this stupid disease.”

The imposing mountain in Fort William is not the first challenge Hyder has taken on since her MS diagnosis.

She has also learned to scuba dive and given birth to three children.

Her story has won the imagination of HarperCollins, who have handed her a publishing deal to share her tales of many personal mountains climbed.

Dog help

She will go up Ben Nevis in a BOMA, a battery-powered off-road wheelchair.

And by her side during her attempt in August will be her assistance dog Harmony, a golden Labrador-Retriever cross she received from the Canine Partners charity last year.

Sally is only the third person with MS in Scotland to be given an assistance dog, who is specially trained to help her around the house in a variety of ways.

She is now hoping to raise money for the Canine Partners charity by making the ascent up the mountain.

She said: “I wouldn’t be doing this climb if it weren’t for Harmony.

“I’d stopped thinking I would ever see the top of a mountain again but when I got Harmony I started taking her out for walks, and gained so much more freedom in my life.

“I decided I wanted to do something a bit different – I wanted to go up, not just straight ahead, so I started researching my options and came across the off-road wheelchair.”

Sally’s determination has delighted Andy Cook, chief executive of Canine Partners.

He said: “Sally’s goal of being the first person in a wheelchair to climb Ben Nevis unaided really highlights the independence she now enjoys thanks to Harmony.

“And although for safety and welfare reasons Harmony is not able to go all the way to the top, she has given Sally something immeasurable and more precious – the confidence to take on the challenge in the first place.”