Alford car crash victim gets back on top

Mike Austin and friends on the summit of Mount Merapi In Indonisia in 1992.
Mike Austin and friends on the summit of Mount Merapi In Indonisia in 1992.

As a younger man his adventurous spirit inspired far flung travels across glaciers, jungles and even volcanoes in mid-eruption.

But a serious car accident in 2007 brought his whole life crashing down, leaving him depressed, reclusive and a shadow of his former self.

Now, after years of hard work, Alford man Mike Austin believes he has recaptured that earlier passion and plans on climbing Mount Everest, to mark the conclusion of his own redemptive journey.

“The challenge of doing something new was always a big part of my life prior to the car accident so this is about trying to reclaim that core part of my soul,” he said.

Mike will jet off to Kathmandu, Nepal, in early September to begin the five day climb up the world’s tallest mountain amid sub-zero temperatures and perilous terrain towards base camp, 18,000 feet up.

Despite his previous global adventures, the 48-year-old horse trainer recognises the enormity of the challenge ahead and has been exercising regularly to prepare.

“I’m not getting any younger and this is really a younger man’s challenge so the difficulties for me are going to be the physical exertion but also the mental challenge of being in a different environment and meeting new people, because I had become very insular after my accident,” he said.

Six years ago Mike would never have dreamed of undertaking such an adventure. The accident wiped a year from his memory and the months that followed were marked by a slow and arduous recovery.

During this time, Sandi, his wife, with whom he runs Austin’s Equine & Circle ‘A’ Ranch at Ailby, near Alford, was crucial in keeping him focused.

“She has been a real star and without her I don’t think I could have done it,” said Mike.

And even in those darkest days his adventurous spirit also spurred him on.

“I needed some sort of goal to aim for because I‘ve always been a strong person but I felt that I was missing a crucial part of me,” he said.

In his search for a motivational project, Mike came across the Everest expedition, organised by Childreach International, a charity campaigning for children’s rights.

As the couple were unable to have children of their own, Mike and Sandi have both been keen supporters of such organisations, making it an obvious choice.

“It was like a three-pronged attack - firstly I get to enjoy an amazing adventure, secondly it will help prove my recovery and thirdly I get to help a fantastic cause,” said Mike.

He must raise at least £2,500 for the charity before embarking on the adventure, which includes a visit to one of its grass roots projects in the Himalayan foothills.

To sponsor Mike visit his donation