Inspiring Adventurers #1 Nigel Vardy
One of the many privileges of our work is the opportunities we get to meet a whole range of adventurous people. Some are widely known for their exploits while others are probably only known within their friendship circles. Some may be ticking away at a modest level while others are pushing the boundaries of our sport. Of course we need the pioneers and ground breakers but there is just as much inspiration to be found by that person you chat to in a pub or see running past your house when the snow is falling and everyone else has taken the easy option and is curled up by the fire. There is inspiration everywhere.
At Peak Mountaineering we really hope, that alongside giving people skills, we play our small part in inspiring others. Similarly, we rely just as much on the inspiration of others we meet along the way. As a tribute we came up with the idea of celebrating this wealth of collective psyche and commitment that's out there in the climbing and mountaineering community. So, this new occasional series of blog posts is our homage to these inspiring adventurers and we really hope that, by sharing their sage advice, you will feel both energised by their enthusiasm as well as gaining some ideas for your next adrenaline fix. For each adventurer we'll write a short biography before asking them 5 questions to share some of their knowledge.......
Inspiring Adventurers #1 Nigel Vardy
Our very first Inspiring Adventurer is a man who, it is fair to say, in the nicest possible way, has been around a bit. In fact, the only continent Nigel has left to visit is Antarctica, and in our recent conversation it was clear he's already been thinking about a suitable southern objective for the future. Nigel is partial to anything adventurous, but mountaineering is his first love. More specifically, high, remote or unclimbed peaks are his main passion and, just like any mountaineer pushing the boundaries, Nigel's adventures carry risk. In 1999 he visited Alaska and it was during an ascent of Mt McKinley that his team became pinned down in a storm that almost took their lives. The team were eventually rescued, but Nigel suffered severe frostbite to his face, hands and feet.
With damage to his nose and the loss of his fingers and toes Nigel had to face a new future. That future could have involved stepping back from his mountaineering endeavours but that isn't Nigel's way. He has since gone on to ascend many more peaks, complete a broad range of adventure travel, become a qualified mountain leader and also to carve out an impressive reputation as a lecturer, public speaker, event organiser and presenter. It is such an inspiring story just as Nigel is an inspiring character.
He is also one of those people that's always preparing his next adventure (in fact he is usually preparing several!). So we sat down and, in between chatting about his upcoming post monsoon expedition to Nepal (and enjoying a fine Traveller's Rest cheddar cheese toastie!), I asked him 5 questions.....
Which destination would be your top recommendation for someone looking for an adventure?
I think Southern Chile has everything anyone could look for in an adventure destination. It has an emptiness and vastness that are truly inspiring. It is also completely unspoilt and pristine with the clearest skies I've ever seen. There is also massive potential for some fantastic adventures.
Which destination is at the top of your future adventures?
There are lots of ideas banging around in my head , but I hear wonderful stories about the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia. Its remoteness and emptiness attract my sense of adventure.
Can you name someone who has inspired you to lead a life of adventure?
Nigel definitely struggled with this question and within a few seconds he had reeled off at least a dozen names. However, after pushing him to narrow it down and he decided on Ernest Shackleton for his leadership, resourcefulness, imagination and his unquestionable passion for cutting edge exploration.
Which item wouldn't you leave home without?
I have a Swiss Army knife that I've carried for many years and it has served me well. It's been used for everything from slicing melon to cutting wound dressings , and it's still going strong.
What would be your top tip for budding adventurers?
It is easy to go away and stay in a little bubble (especially if you are part of a team) but if you take every opportunity to mix with local people your experience will be so much richer. Drinking mint tea in a Bedouin tent, watching a wedding ceremony in a remote village or sharing stories with a porter as you stroll along a mountain trail - every interaction will enhance your adventure and give you a better understanding of the history and culture of the places you visit.
Thanks Nigel. Check out Nigel's website here for more info on his adventures. Inspiring Adventurer #2 will be coming soon.
Posted by Cal