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ice climbing

INSPIRE YOURSELF: CLIMBER JAKE MEYER ON THE SEVEN SUMMITS, K2 & CLAIMING AMERICA

Before the age of 20 Jake Meyer had already climbed Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus, Denali, Aconcagua and Mount Kosciuszko. By 21, in 2005, he became the youngest Brit to top Mount Everest and the youngest man to conquer the Seven Summits: the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents. Let us introduce you to Jake ahead of his attempt on K2 in June.


Age is Just a Number

chimborazo

Jake on Chimborazo (6,268m), Ecuador’s highest peak.

 

The whole quest to climb the Seven Summits came from reading a catalogue article in Jagged Globe in 1998 – this 28-year-old chap had just became the youngest person to complete the Seven Summits. I was this cocky, naïve 14-year-old who thought, if an old man can do this challenge, then why can’t I? The best thing about setting yourself an age record is it stops the threat of procrastination. The record gave me the catalyst to get out and do these things. It also helped with sponsorship and gaining media attention.
  

You’re never too old to take on these challenges either. It’s about experience, desire and passion. The age record for summiting Everest is 80. It’s inspiring to realise that it’s almost never too late to start a new journey and to do something different. I’ve always tried to be one of the youngest, but there are always people who are going to be push the boundaries. Having stood on top of the world, all of these records are just details and do not really matter [Note: Jake’s Everest and Seven Summits records have since been broken].

Conquering America

After Everest I wanted another challenge, but I wanted it to be the antidote to spending 10 weeks on one hill, focussing on one goal. I wondered if it would be possible to top multiple mountains in a short space of time, like an extended Three Peaks Challenge.
 

We didn’t include Alaska or Hawaii, but we decided to climb the highest point of all 48 mainland states in the USA as quickly as possible. I was sponsored and asked five friends from university to come along as my support crew. We began our expedition on the 4th of July – a bunch of plucky British adventurers looking to conquer the United States.
 

We started on Mount Rainier, Washington, and finished on Mount Katahdin, Maine, at the end of the Appalachian Trail. It was over 15,000 miles of driving, 100,000ft of climbing and 350 miles of walking, running and trekking. It took 23 days, 19 hours and 31 minutes, setting a world record which stood for about nine years.

Maximise your Enjoyment

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Jake is making his second attempt at summiting K2 (8,611m) in June. “My first trip to K2 in 2009 was far from being the perfect expedition, but it was incredible experience,” he says.

 

Aside from the physical challenges of actually climbing a mountain, I’ve often found the expedition can be made or broken by the team that you are part of. One of my toughest experiences was climbing Aconcagua in Argentina when I was 18, completely solo. It was a tough mountain, but it was that sense of being completely by yourself without any teammates, so it came down to self-motivation.

 

Part of the beauty of mountaineering is not only the environment you’re in, but the people who you’re sharing it with. It’s important to maximise enjoyment on these expeditions. You want the people that you’re with to be great mates and create a high-performing team. I’m so excited to be going to K2 this year with my Everest climbing partner, Diahanne Gilbert. Regardless of the success of the expedition, it’ll be a great 10 weeks in Pakistan.

Train in the Mountains

I don’t do any training. It’s not part of my regime of preparation. It may sound bonkers, but I personally believe in strength of mind and us pitting ourselves against the environment in our most basic form. That’s the challenge and part of the experience. I never trained for Everest or any of my other trips. It is the expedition itself that becomes the training. By going out of that comfort zone, we truly recognise what we are capable of.

 

K2, for instance, is a 130km walk to base camp over seven days to build up your fitness and acclimatise. You have 3-5 trips or more up and down the mountain preparing the route before you attempt the summit, so you’re building up the body’s appreciation of the environment over a relatively short space of time.

 

When it comes to making decisions on the mountain about safety, conditions or climbing techniques, it’s not down to how much time you’ve spent in the gym, but how much you’ve spent on the mountain.

Adventure on your Doorstep

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Jake climbing in Swanage, Dorset, where he found his calling.

 

Picking tick lists of mountains to climb has always been a great catalyst to explore the world. You have to go elsewhere to experience exciting mountains, especially for us in the UK. My first climb, however, was in Swanage at Dancing Ledge. Sometimes I regret that I focus on big mountains that are thousands of miles away from home. There are so many fantastic places and opportunities on our doorstep, like Stanage Edge or the Wye Valley. You don’t need to go to the other side of the world to have an amazing experience.

 

I consider myself a normal person who has done some slightly abnormal things. I want to demonstrate that you don’t need to be a superhero to complete these challenges. All you need is the determination, desire and tenacity to do something different. Whether you’re aspiring to summit Snowdon or Everest, I want to hear about your experiences. If you have a dream, listen to us share our own adventures and hopefully we can inspire each other.