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Mountaineer Flys Flag For Hearing Impaired

Mountaineer Flys Flag For Hearing Impaired Atop One Of The World's Great Peaks

Sam McCready, has successfully scaled the Matterhorn

Hearing impaired geologist and keen mountaineer, Sam McCready, has successfully scaled the Matterhorn, one of the world's great peaks, to coincide with this week's national Deaf Awareness Week.

Sam flew the flag of the National Foundation for the Deaf atop the summit to raise awareness of the challenges the 450,000 hearing impaired New Zealanders face.

At 4478m the mountain Matterhorn is regarded as one of the world's most challenging climbs. Additional challenges brought about by Sam's hearing impairment, such as communicating with his climbing partner and hearing rock fall or avalanches, meant he was faced with more obstacles than most climbers.

"It wasn't until we reached the bottom and it dawned upon us what we'd done and what we'd achieved that elation hit," says McCready. "I am immensely proud to have undertaken this challenge for deaf and hearing impaired people."

National Foundation for the Deaf executive manager, Marianne Schumacher, says that Sam is a great role model for the deaf and hearing impaired communities.

"By successfully completing his mission Sam has demonstrated that it is possible to overcome barriers both physical and psychological," says Schumacher. "We are delighted that Sam chose to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week in this way."

Sam and climbing partner, fellow Kiwi Rob Goddard, reached the Matterhorn's summit on Monday 22 September at 11.09 am local time (9.09 pm NZ time) following a six hour climb up the peak.

Sam said the ascent was physically and mentally challenging and with a storm on the way from Italy, the need to stay focused and alert was critical.

"We stayed at the summit for 21 minutes, enough time for some food and water and with bad weather setting in, we began the treacherous descent. We reached the base of the peak eight hours later and the Swiss town of Zermatt another five hours after that.

"We are thrilled we managed to complete the mission during this important week before a total white out made it impossible.

"It is no surprise that the locals are referring to us as the 'crazy Kiwis' for attempting the climb without the help of a guide."

Sam's hearing impairment is called otosclerosis, and means he has a 42 decibel hearing loss in his left ear and total hearing loss in his right. Sam wears hearing aids and has learned to lip read.

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