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Former Royal Marines attacked by ‘pirates’ during world-first Amazon expedition for Rainforest Concern

A world-first expedition, following the Amazon River from its highest source on Volcán Chimborazo to the Atlantic Ocean, has been postponed after two former Royal Marines were attacked by pirates.
Pirate attack leads to Amazon summit to sea postponement CREDIT Summit to Sea 23 Instagram

Earlier this year, John, Ian, and the team at Summit to Sea undertook a momentous challenge – to climb Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador, and then to follow the Amazon River from its highest source on the summit to the Atlantic Ocean, travelling through 5000km of wilderness. This expedition would be a world first.

This adventure was inspired by David Bathgate, the father of expedition leader John. In 1968, mountaineer David decided he wanted to follow this route along the Amazon but was never able to do so. His son was inspired to complete this challenge for his father, while raising awareness and funds for our natural world and mental health, supporting charities Rainforest Concern, RV1UK and Royal Marines Charity.

The route would follow the Amazon river across 5000km of wilderness.

After weeks of challenges, including climbing Chimborazo, treacherous white water rafting and even escaping kidnap, two members of the team, John and Ian – who are both former Royal Marines - were in a remote part of the river, close to the Colombian border, last week. Unfortunately, while here, the pair were attacked by pirates who ambushed them before producing guns. Armed with nothing but their paddles, John and Ian managed to fight the pirates, disarm them, and both get to safety. However, during the struggle, John was shot twice.

Thankfully, Ian, with the help of local people, managed to stabilise John before more help arrived.

“When I was hit, there was very little pain. I was incredibly lucky though. The shot went through my knee, up through the full length of my thigh and just past my hip. It was very lucky I missed an artery, bone or anything.”

John Bathgate

John and Ian are now safely back in the UK. Astonishingly, this experience hasn’t discouraged them, and they are determined to return to Peru to complete their challenge within the next 12 months.

All of us at Rainforest Concern send our gratitude and best wishes to John, Ian, and the rest of the team. Summit to Sea have already managed to fundraise a fantastic amount for our charity, and we are amazed at their courage and determination!

You can follow and support their journey on Instagram and their website.

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John and Ian on their way home to the UK

“This minor hiccup certainly won't keep us from finishing, and the actions of two individuals do not define Peru, a country whose people we have grown to love.”

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White water rafting in the upper Pastaza, Ecuador
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The team at the Chimborazo summit