Ummm, where to start. I didn’t really do a lot during my first thirty-four years whilst living in England, but if I had to come up with a single significant moment it would be the decision to sign up for a winter mountaineering course in Scotland. I never expected it to alter the course of my life and open up an entirely new arena of exploration, as well as provide me with a whole new perspective on how trivial we are in harsh winter conditions. The Cairngorms in Scotland were like being on a different planet and I’m so thankful I never had to rely on myself to survive over the long weekend course.
This gave me the confidence to head to Tanzania for an attempt on Kilimanjaro, with the primary focus being to raise money for a local children’s hospice, and secondary to stand on the summit of Africa. Incidentally this would be the first mountain in my quest to stand atop the highest point of each continent. Continuing on from there, in 2002 a two week trip to Russia took me to the top of Elbrus in the Caucasus mountains, quickly followed by an ascent of Aconcagua in South America. This was significant in being the first traverse, so not only did I stand on the summit but took an entirely different off-the-beaten-track route to the top, descending the normal route.
In 2003 I relocated to the US and my mountaineering enthusiasm elevated to new heights, first with a successful traverse of Denali in Alaska, followed up with Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in Mexico. This was also the venue that prompted Everest discussions, a perfect time in my life after recently selling a house in England. The profit had been in my bank for far too long! Everest was my first mountaineering failure, and an expensive one at that – turning back at 28000′ was a tough decision, although the final thousand feet would have taken at least a further 3-4 hours.
High points of the Australasian mainland, Peru and Papua, the location of the highest peak in Oceania; Carstensz Pyramid, were quickly knocked off. More recently a twelve month trip to South America provided the opportunity to climb Huayna Potosi, Bolivia, and a couple of Ecuador’s volcanoes; Cotapaxi and Chimborazo.
Zooming forward to 2017, a chunk of inheritance money burning a hole in my pocket, there were a lot of mind games going on over whether I should or shouldn’t sign up for Vinson. Eventually a few weeks out I did pull the trigger and overcoming numerous weather delays stood on the summit of Antarctica. That only left a second successful attempt at the big one, probably all my wife would have allowed!
Outside of mountaineering I had a love-hate relationship with Ironman triathlons, thoroughly enjoy backpacking to remote corners of the world, scuba diving, and competing in mountain bike races, even more so when a fatbike is involved.