The Martin Moran Foundation and Mountain Equipment have a roster of impressive ambassadors, including Uisdean Hawthorn and Stephen Venables. We were given the opportunity to catch up with them and get an answer to the burning question: ‘What inspired you to climb?’.
“Learn to leave your sense of self behind and just enjoy being there in the moment, whether you’re in the mountains or a park in the city.”Uisdean Hawthorn
Scottish climber, Uisdean, grew up surrounded by mountains. He spent his time mountaineering, even from an early age, and knew it was inevitable he’d spend the rest of his life enjoying the great outdoors. “Even if I hadn’t taken up climbing, I’d still have spent lots of time in the mountains at home,” he says. “I love being able to think ‘what’s over that hill?’ Before going and seeing for myself.”.
For young people looking to explore, Uisdean believes in enabling them to learn and develop the skills needed to be safe. Uisdean says “Providing young people with plenty of training and opportunities to get outside is key. For the first trips I ever did, I applied for grant money. Having this backing really helped me feel able to take the jump and start going on bigger trips. After that, I knew how expeditions worked and was able to learn more about funding them myself.”
Stephen grew up far from the mountains, in Surrey. His first grand summit was Box Hill, in 1963, which he skied down during a particularly cold British winter. Before long, Stephen had seen his first mountains in Snowdonia and was skiing in the Alps. He says: “How could you not be inspired by that?! Right from the start, the most interesting bits of the mountains were the steep bits. I was always tempted to take up climbing and eventually got round to it aged 17.” But Stephen’s best part about being outdoors? Being far away from a computer screen.
Stephen was a self-taught climber. “It’s a good way to learn, but risky, and mistakes can be terminal.”. Now, he would recommend a young person learns from a qualified instructor. “In retrospect, I might have learned a lot faster – and a lot more safely – with an expert.” He continues.
Stephen’s first big overseas trip was to the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan. He tells us “Two of us took a bus from London with all our luggage, whilst the other three flew out to meet us in Kabul. We organised it ourselves and paid for it out of our own savings. We were fortunate to receive grants from the Mount Everest Foundation and the BMC too”. He says that expeditions don’t need to be expensive, or even complicated. Stephen recommends young explorers get some basic training in moving safely, especially through a remote country. He goes on to say: “Don’t get hung up on trying to be the best, fastest, hardest, highest over-achiever. Just enjoy being there. And take your rubbish home!”.
We are really excited to be working with Mountain Equipment on the Martin Moran Foundation partnership. Download the press releases and images here, in our virtual press room.