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Steve Wakeford, a Rare Character

Steve Wakeford, a Rare Character

Whilst working as a highly sought after TV Sports Editor and consultant, Steve Wakeford one day found himself on a high dependency ward in Central London, having suffered a collapsed lung. Contemplating the lifestyle choices that had lead up to this, Steve found himself at a turning point… 


At Snow Leopard Vodka we are constantly on the hunt for people doing extraordinary things. In our ‘Rare Character’ series we have featured some truly inspiring people. From Nadia Mijiddorj, a Conservationist helping the lives of the snow leopards in her native village in Mongolia to Helen Freeman, founder of The Snow Leopard Trust. Indeed, our interests extend beyond the world of the humble snow leopard, which is why we want to talk about Steve Wakeford.


Following his collapsed lung, Steve decided to escape the city and a life where he was too busy doing things he didn’t want to do. He packed up his belongings, moved into a campervan and drove to Chamonix, the home of Alpinism. With the historic Mont Blanc massif as its sensational backdrop, the Chamonix Valley showcases the Alps at their most dramatic. Like so many others, he was magnetically drawn to this high-altitude playground in order to dedicate his time to training and honing his skills as an alpinist. Turning his life upside has given him incredible memories - but it has also come at a cost.


In 2014, whilst climbing a mountain known as the Les Petites Jorasses, he fell. His foothold giving way, his ice axes dislodged and his protective gear ripping out, Steve found himself tumbling down the gully towards his climbing partners. After 70 meters, Steve came to a stop - his bicep ripped off, his leg broken in three places and his shoulder blade shattered - his climbing partners rushing to secure him and calling the mountain rescue. Just minutes later he was plucked off the mountain in a helicopter, his partners left with nothing but blood on the snow to show that Steve was ever there.


Temporarily bound to a wheelchair, Steve found himself at another turning point. Unable to do any of the things that had given him his identity, he picked up his camera and begun to document his rehabilitation, asking himself - and others - some serious questions: “Regardless of injury or trauma, why are we drawn to the mountains in the first place? Is risk an essential part of what we do? Our experiences form us, so do we perceive risk differently after an accident?” 


So much has changed since that day; not only is his approach to the mountains, but also in his personal life – including taking on a young family. But through it all remains one constant – his unwavering desire to return and re-climb the route from which he fell.


In light of it all, can he still justify taking this risk? His attempt to answer this question forms the foundation of a documentary due for release this autumn – Magnetic Mountains. The film sets out to ask challenging questions of the alpine community, and of Steve himself. It is the story of an everyman, trying to find a balance – a story of inspiration, determination and spirit – not one of heroism. For mountains do not exist to be conquered; we can only hope to conquer ourselves in their shadow.


Find out more in Part Two, coming later this month.


PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Tibbetts 


Have you been inspired by Steve Wakeford’s story? Let us know using the hashtag #RareCharacter



Every bottle sold helps to save the Snow Leopard from extinction, by supporting conservation projects. Use the hashtag #GreatVodkaForGood and help us spread the word



Snow Leopard Vodka is perfect for a classic martini, served on the rocks and in premium cocktails.

Snow Leopard Trust

The Snow Leopard Trust is the world's largest organization in the study and protection of the endangered Snow Leopard. 15% of all our profits go directly to the Trust to help them on their mission.

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