Ed is a 20-year old mountaineer who has climbed some of the biggest peaks in the world, while still managing to pass his exams at university. What can I say, some of us just walk in the light. 😉
1.You say you are an Adventure traveller, what does that entail?
My adventure travelling has been focused mainly around mountaineering. Mountaineering expeditions have taken me well off the beaten track to far flung corners of the earth and have normally involved weird and wonderful modes of transport along the way.
2.How did you get your first sponsorship deal?
It came about after I became the youngest person to climb Baruntse (7129m), Nepal, aged 18. It’s when people realised I was serious about the whole thing, although I must say on the whole I am strongly against the idea of climbing mountains for records!
3.You are only twenty years old, do you study on the side or are you a full time mountaineer?
I study full time at the University of York and fit mountaineering into my holidays of which I have plenty! Most of my recent expeditions have fitted around summer holidays, which is the wrong season for a lot of popular high altitude areas. Weirdly it’s perfect for me because I prefer to be climbing off the tourist trail hence my last expedition to Kyrgyzstan.
4.What does your mother think of your lifestyle?
I think she’s happy that I’m happy, although she does sometimes get anxious before I leave on expedition- that’s to be expected I guess.
5.How did you afford to travel and climb and buy the gear before you got sponsored?
Before I was sponsored I did most of my mountaineering in the UK and only a few trips to the Alps so I kept the cost down. Also during my teens rather than head off to Zante or Ibiza I spent my cash on climbing gear and trips- I guess it’s where your priorities are.
6.Have you climbed solo before or do you mostly go in teams?
I have never been on a mountaineering expedition solo, it’s a totally different challenge to that faced when you’re part of a team. It’s a lot more of a mental game and also far more dangerous. That said I do have my eye on going back to Khan Tengri (7010m- Kyrgyzstan) and attempting it solo but only when I feel ready!
7.Is fear ever an issue for you?
I often get nerves before a climbing day begins. I think that’s healthy though because it means you realise what you’re doing is serious and not to be taken lightly. I don’t think I’d want to climb with someone who never got anxious, that smells of recklessness.
8. What is the longest you have been out on an expedition?
A couple of months- it wasn’t a mountaineering expedition rather a car race from London to Mongolia followed by the Trans-Siberian railway and then backpacking around Scandinavia. It was awesome!
9.Do you ever feel like you are missing out on the ‘traditional’ student life?
Not really, I fit my expeditions into the holidays and whilst I’m at uni I live pretty much as a student- I drink too much, smoke and don’t do enough exercise. It’s only when I’m in the final few months leading up to an expedition that I really kick into gear.
10.What is it that keeps you going back to the mountains?
That moment when you unzip the tent look up and think blimey, what an honour it is to be able to here trying to climb that thing.
11. Can you describe the feeling of frostbite for those of us who haven’t had the pleasure?
It’s pretty nasty; there is an intense throbbing as the blood tries to push its way back into the dying tissue. You know that if you could feel a lot of what’s going on in the infected tissue it would be agony but you just can’t- that’s the craziest thing about it.
12. How did you get so confident at public speaking?
I have no idea, I don’t think I am confident to be honest! Like anything it becomes easier with practise, it also helps when you have something to talk about and feel confident that people want to hear what you have to say.
13.Favourite place to climb?
Kyrgyzstan hands down. The unsupported nature of the expeditions, the sheer remoteness and beauty of the place stand it apart from anywhere else I’ve been.
14. Most important piece of equipment?
Probably sunglasses, they pretty much never leave my head and without which would make me snow blind very quickly. Underestimated in the mountaineers gear arsenal.
15.Plans for the next few years on and off the mountains?
Multi-discipline driving expedition from London to Cape Town, I will be climbing/mountaineering and paragliding/skiing/rafting along the way- It is going to be an epic challenge!
Solo expedition to Khan Tengri (7010m, Kyrgyzstan)
Para-alpinist expedition to Ama Dablam (6812m, Nepal)
16. What are the most impressive mountains you have climbed?
I guess I would have to say Khan Tengri (7010m, Kyrgzystan) despite the fact I didn’t summit. The mountain is very technical and the expedition was unsupported. Also Baruntse (7129m) was pretty tough considering my age and relative lack of experience.
17. What brand do you think offers the best quality mountaineering gear?
Hmmm It’s hard to say, it depends what you’re after because everything has a price and usually there is a correlation between the two i.e. the more expensive, the better quality.
18. What does the UK have to offer the mountaineering folk worldwide?
Absolutely loads, Scotland has some of the harshest weather and toughest winter mountaineering in the world. Also a lot of the stuff here is cheap, accessible and beginner friendly. People in general become to worked up about heading off to the Alps when actually they could be better served here.