Norfolk man celebrates ‘lifetime achievement’ after reaching peak of the mountain climbing world

Mountain climber Matthew Stygall in the Alps. Mountain climber Matthew Stygall in the Alps.

Monday, October 7, 2013
9:23 AM

The heights of the mountain climbing world have been scaled by a Costessey man who has just achieved the highest climbing qualification in the world.

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Mountain climber Matthew Stygall in action on the Peuterey Intergral on Mont Blanc in the Alps.Mountain climber Matthew Stygall in action on the Peuterey Intergral on Mont Blanc in the Alps.

Matthew Stygall, 33, has defied his roots in the flatlands of Norfolk to become qualified as a guide for the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA).

It is a qualification that only around 200 Britons have achieved before and qualifies the former Costessey High School pupil to lead people in the mountains when skiing, climbing or mountaineering.

Mr Stygall has been working towards the qualification for three and a half years and was finally presented his IFMGA certificate in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday, September 28.

“It’s a lifetime achievement for me,” said Mr Stygall. “I met guides when I was younger who were Alps climbers and I thought ‘I want to do that job’, so it’s a really big achievement for me to have got there.

Terry Ralphs, mountain guide training officer for British Mountain Guides, giving Matt Stygall his international guide certificate in Leysin, Switzerland. Photo: Emma Warren.Terry Ralphs, mountain guide training officer for British Mountain Guides, giving Matt Stygall his international guide certificate in Leysin, Switzerland. Photo: Emma Warren.

“It has opened a lot more doors for me. I can now work in France and Italy in the Alps and can go guiding on any of the peaks, any piste, for rock climbing, ice climbing, snow walks, summer and winter, ski training off-piste, so it opens doors for me worldwide.”

Mr Stygall has achieved his qualification through British Mountain Guides, which is a member of IFMGA.

As a youngster he was a member of the 27th Norwich Scout group and a local fire cadets group. He got in to climbing through the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, starting climbing at Wymondham Leisure Centre when he was 15 years old.

He went on to study for a diploma in outdoor education and it was then that his passion for climbing really took off, climbing in the Peak District and Scottish Highlands.

Mountain climber Matthew Stygall in action on a vertical route of Ben Nevis in Scotland known as The Secret. Photo: Keith Ball.Mountain climber Matthew Stygall in action on a vertical route of Ben Nevis in Scotland known as The Secret. Photo: Keith Ball.

His outdoor career started at Outward Bound School in Aberdovey in Wales, before moving up to Scotland to work at the Loch Eil Centre, where he started to push his winter climbing grade and regularly climbed mixed winter and ice routes on Ben Nevis in winter.

He then started to climb regularly in the Alps, climbing more technically challenging routes, and has since climbed major routes in Patagonia in Chile and Yosemite in the USA, as well as taken part in expeditions to Alaska and Kurdistan.

Mr Stygall continued: “Getting to the top of a climb and enjoying an amazing view after a lot of effort to get there is a pretty special thing.

“To put 12 hours of effort in to get to the top of a tricky peak, that is the kind of adventure that makes it so rewarding.”

Although Mr Stygall now works at the National Mountain Centre in Plas Y Brenin in North Wales, his parents still run the Costessey Guest House bed and breakfast, in Norwich Road.

- Do you know someone from the Norwich area who has achieved something special recently? Contact reporter David freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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