Business leader’s new heights

Ryan Wholey on the summit of the Pico Dde Orizaba

Ryan Wholey on the summit of the Pico Dde Orizaba

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A Blackpool businessman with no mountaineering experience has defied the odds and completed an ascent of the highest mountain in Mexico.

Ryan Wholey the chief executive of fuel security specialists TSS Ltd made it to the top of the 18,491 ft high Pico de Orizaba.

The Pico de Orizaba in Mexico

The Pico de Orizaba in Mexico

And although it was the first of the world’s major mountains he has climbed, it is just the first step on his greater ambition to climb the highest Everest in two years time.

Ryan, 43, who was in Mexico to see clients of the Lytham Road exporter, had to cope with the affects of high altitude and tackle ice climbing on the glacier near the summit.

His team set off from base camp at 1am and reached the summit in just under nine hours.

The climb was all the more difficult due to extremely high winds and bone chilling temperatures of – 30°C.

Luckily I seemed to be unaffected and was able to make the climb

His success is all the more impressive considering of all the climbing teams tackling the mountain during the week he was in Mexico, only 10 per cent made the summit.

Ryan said: “Three of us set off in our group but due to altitude sickness one of the party had to turn back. He was shaking and dizzy.

“We had to acclimatise to the altitude for three days. We did a walk at altitude to see how our bodies reacted and then went down to base camp to sleep.

“It affects different people in different ways. In fact the fitter you are at sea level the more likely you are to be affected by altitude sickness.

“Luckily I seemed to be unaffected and was able to make the climb.

“The last three hours of the climb were the hardest. We were climbing up the glacier which had an incline of 70 degrees. The wind was terrible. It was like the storms here in Blackpool the other week , but instead of being on the Prom I was at high altitude, on ice and with nothing there to hold on to.

“To be honest I was a complete novice but I have been on a fitness programme at cross fit in Blackpool and my wife who is a nutritionist has had me on a special diet.

“I had one big trip to the Lake District and then went off to Mexico.

“I am adventurous and love to take on things outside my comport zone. “Because our company has bee so successful at exporting, I have been lucky enough to see parts of the world tourists do not, but seeing a place at high altitude is a whole different thing.

“As physical challenges go, this was one of the biggest I’ve faced. I have always been fascinated with mountains and their imposing nature.

“To complete this climb on my first attempt was a fantastic feeling and has given me the confidence to tackle even greater heights.”

He said his next target is Kilimanjaro at 16,001ft and then Aconcagua in Argentina at 22.838ft - the highest mountain in the world outside Asia.

He added: “Neither of them are particularly technical climbs but they are big challenges.

“My dream is to go on to attempt Everest in 2018.”

TISS produces safety devices for lorry fuel tanks which mean that fuel cannot be siphoned off and which cut the risk of spills. Tiss was awarded the Queens Award for Exports in 2014.