How did you become involved with EOCA:
Es in training
Downclimbing the Innaccessible Pinnacle, Skye
EOCA member, Mountain Equipment, who are one of my equipment sponsors asked me if I would be interested!
The quality of the environment obviously has an impact on the quality of the experiences we have when we go into those environments, so preserving these qualities is important. I also think having wild places is important for getting people in touch with the beauty of the natural world, and helping them realise the importance of engaging with the more serious environmental problems that we face globally, notably the urgency of dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
I view being part of EOCA as an opportunity to engage with environmental issues - but just because you are involved - don’t let that mean you take your eye off the environmental impact of your own business activities.
What else do you promote to support conservation:
Nothing specifically to do with wildlife conservation, but I am doing a PhD in environmental architecture because I am very concerned about climate change and related environmental problems, and I try and limit the impact of my own adventuring through choosing objectives closer to home and by travelling overland wherever possible.
I like the Surfers Against Sewage project (2009) because it is an example of an interest group getting involved in campaigning against something that affects them very directly but that is also very important in a wider sense – clean oceans make better recreation for surfers, but, more importantly, are also crucial for healthy fish stocks and biodiversity, which have implications for all of humanity. Perhaps as mountaineers we could launch something similar – “skiers against CO2” or “climbers against coal” or something! Again this is a massive issue for mountaineers for entirely selfish reasons (warmer winters, less snow and retreating glaciers all have an adverse effect on the activity we love), but the wider implications for the rest of humanity are far more severe.
Favourite wild place:
Winter mountains. There is something that I find especially beautiful, inspiring and exciting about mountains covered in snow! Although I do appreciate the freedom of being able to run through them in the summer as well.
Favourite outdoor activity:
Mountain running, ski mountaineering, alpinism, rock climbing.
Greatest achievements so far:
- Speed record for the Cuillin ridge traverse on the Isle of Skye. Often called the greatest mountaineering route in the UK, the Cuillin ridge combines exposed scrambling and rock climbing to link the 13 summits of the Black Cuillin. A traverse typically takes a strong team in excess of ten hours (many bivi). I managed to run the route in 3 hours 17 minutes, breaking the previous record, which had stood for 14 years, by nearly 15 minutes.
- Snowdon Horseshoe record. 1 hour 25 minutes.
- Numerous new climbing routes, in summer and winter, in Scotland.
- Two expeditions to Kyrgyzstan, one to Patagonia and one to Greenland, resulting in several significant new routes.
- Great Britain Ski mountaineering team since 2010, after learning to ski in 2007.
- Winning the classic Isle of Jura fell race in 2011.
- Top placed British team member in the ski mountaineering world championships individual race, 2011.
In perfect weather, either alone, with close friends or my wife doing something big and at pace, whether it be a big run or walk in the mountains, a monster day on skis or a big north face, followed by a fine meal and intelligent conversation. Not too intelligent though, I wouldn’t want to get confused…
My most perfect day so far has to be a tie between the 3 hours 17 minutes spent running the Cuillin ridge in bright sunshine above a cloud inversion, and getting engaged to my now-wife on the Patagonian icecap as the sun set over Cerro Torre.
Keep up to date with what Es is up to here