Inspiring Adventurers #3 Jeff Smith
Our Inspirational Adventurers series has gathered pace and hopefully you are enjoying the contributions as well as it serving to plant some seeds for your future adventures. We want the contributions to be as varied as possible and, while climbing and mountaineering has been the lifeblood of our business and my personal life shaper for the last 35 years, this summer has taught me, more than any other I can remember, to relish diversity.
In 2014 I have deliberately sought out variety and, in between running courses, I’ve learnt how to light a fire with friction, taken the family bivvying on Lakeland mountains and mid way up a Welsh climb, experienced the buzz of a city centre cycle sportive and explored some rarely visited Derbyshire caves. It’s been a great summer and, while they aren’t adventures that will push the frontiers of human acheivement, we’ve had a ball.
Another factor that often focuses adventures are age milestones or life events. A few weeks ago I was out enjoying some challenges in the Lakeland mountains with a client celebrating her 40th birthday and yesterday it was the turn of a seventy year old who contacted the office to book a navigation course. “I’ve been getting lost in the hills for seven decades,” said Jim. “I thought it was time to do something about it!"
So our third adventurer is a person who, while certainly having a strong mountaineering CV, also relishes variety. It’s also a person who, while not seeming to be phased by the passage of time, has used a significant birthday and the loss of a good friend as a motivational trigger.
By the age of 18 Jeff Smith was a professional ice hockey player and at 27 he won a world championship gold medal. At 38, after raising 2 daughters, he learnt to Skydive in Florida. It wasn’t until he was 47 that he began ticking off some meaty mountains. Firstly it was Kilimanjaro (with his 15 year old daughter) followed by Elbrus, Mont Blanc, Denali (Jeff’s ascent was cut short when his guide became unwell) and, in 2013, Manaslu (8156 metres).
By this point Jeff was 50 and, with his first 8000’er under his belt, he also planned to climb Everest in his 50th year. I followed Jeff’s progress toward departure on his website Everest at Fifty. His ascent would, as well as being a fantastic personal challenge, also raise significant funds for cancer charities. It was an inspirational read. I also followed his blog which charted how, like all Everest climbers this year, his summit opportunity was taken away by the tragic Sherpa deaths and the subsequent mountain closure.
Jeff’s hearfelt blog entry from that time showed his pain for both the loss of life and the loss of his chance at the summit. It also showed his resilience. For Jeff Everest had been an adventure from conception to the unexpected end and in his blog he discussed how much satisfaction he’d particularly gained from the fundraising element. He came back with big ideas and those ideas have now become Big Moose. Please check in with the Big Moose website, subscribe and support this amazing initiative in any way you can. But first, please be inspired by Jeff’s answers to our usual Peak Mountaineering Inspiring Adventurers 5 questions………
Which destination would be your top recommendation for someone looking for an adventure?
I think this would depend on HOW adventurous the person is. I think adventure can manifest itself in many ways and what is a small adventure for one person, could be a massive adventure for another. I think the key to adventure is to push your own personal circle, and expand your horizons, and not to stay in the safe place. Scare yourself a little!
Which destination is at the top of your future adventures?
If I totally had the time, money, and ability I would love to climb K2. A friend of mine who is a little older than me has just summited it which shows age doesn’t need to hold you back. So we will see!
Can you name someone who has inspired you to lead a life of adventure?
I think Richard Parks has inspired me with his determination and strength to climb the seven summits and go to the North and South Pole in seven months. The way he did it was very inspiring.
Which item wouldn't you leave home without?
My various lucky charms from my family which have kept me safe so far!
What would be your top tip for budding adventurers?
My tip would be to think about what you want to do and then research, research and research. When you are ready…..commit! You might be scared, but commit, and then drive forward and never ever ever give up, no matter who tries to push you off track. Stay determined because the journey is what makes you stronger and gives you memories. When you make your decision go to bigmoose.co and look at all the cool people doing cool stuff and, if you want any encouragement, just get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
Posted by Paul