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World record-breaking mountaineer and adventurer Jake Meyer was kind enough to answer a few questions for us recently about his summit conquests to date, which include Mount Everest and K2. A keynote speaker and commissioned officer in the British Army Reserve, Jake has also been to 45 countries throughout the world and reached the highest point in 27 of them.
Here’s what he had to say…
Jake, give us the basics – where are you from, how old are you, family, background, etc?
I’m 35, I live in London with my wife Saskia and daughters Ottalie (4) and Poppy (2).
What do you do to chill out? Any hobbies?
I travel a lot with work (and climbing), so any time spent with the family is rather precious.
And what do you do for a living?
I am a management development consultant for a global performance improvement business. I work with people and teams all around the world to help make them even better.
What sparked your passion for mountaineering?
I got into climbing when I was just 12 years old. When I was at school, I wasn’t particularly good at traditional ball sports (rugby, football, cricket), and so when an opportunity came up to try some rock climbing, I signed up for it, and completely fell in love with it. For me, the beauty of climbing (unlike most sports) is that you are only completing against yourself – you choose the mountains, the routes and the adventures which inspire and will challenge you.
At just 21 years old, you completed the Seven Summits – what motivated you to achieve that goal?
When I was 14, I read an article about a climber called Sundeep Dhillon, who aged 28, had just become the youngest person in the world to have completed the 7 Summits. Despite the fact that I’d never climbed a mountain, and never climbed outside the UK before, I quite literally set my sights as high as possible – determined that this was a record that I could beat.
What’s the most difficult climb you’ve ever attempted, and which has been your favourite overall?
By far and away, K2. K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, and richly deserves the moniker of ‘the savage mountain’. It’s taken me 10 years, and 3 attempts, but finally last summer I reached the summit. For me it’s been a much greater challenge than Everest, and as a result, a much greater sense of achievement for having finally got to the top.
One bit of kit that you absolutely couldn’t do without?
Other than the obvious (it’s a bit difficult to climb mountains without ice axe, crampons etc), I’m a big believer, that if you are going to choose to put yourself in a fundamentally uncomfortable environment, then you might as well try and make it as comfortable as possible. Recently I’ve been taking portable speakers that I can charge on a solar panel – that helped keep me sane! The other must have (if you’re using a stove) is a flint and steel. Beats matches or lighters any day!
Has there been one defining moment for you while climbing? Something that really stuck with you?
Summiting K2 was my proudest moment, but reaching the summit of Everest changed my life. I never quite appreciated what would come after achieving my life’s ambition at 21.
While it might pale a bit in comparison to other places you’ve been, have you done any hiking in Northern Ireland or Ireland?
I had a very wet couple of days on Carrantuohill a few years ago, but other than that, my experience of hiking in NI/Eire is sadly rather limited!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give anyone hoping to start climbing mountains, no matter who or where they are?
Go! Just go. Find a friend, go for a walk in the hills. Go to a climbing gym and start to build up some experience. Sign up for a trip to Everest Basecamp, the Inca Trail or Kilimanjaro. As long as you have a very basic level of fitness (and I mean basic), there is very little that should stand in your way.