At the tender age of 22, student Geordie Stewart successfully became the youngest Scot to scale Everest and the seven peaks. This was Geordie’s second attempt having come desperately close to the 29,000ft summit a year ago.
On his admirable second expedition, taking the lesser travelled Tibetan route up, Geordie finally conquered a dream he had had since he was 17.
Sam caught up with him to find out how.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m a Theology and History student at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
I live in Hampshire and St Andrews.
What was your challenge?
To become the youngest Brit to climb the highest mountain on each of the 7 continents a challenge known as the ‘7 Summits’.
Why did you want to take this on?I read Bear Grylls book Facing Up at the age of 17 and quickly became fascinated by Everest. I then found out about the 7 Summits and it immediately appealed.
It had everything I could want in a challenge: a sense of exploration, cultural diversity, the physical climbing challenge and the contrast in people I would meet along the way.
You were agonisingly close with your first attempt, what was that like? What made you try again?
In 2010, I decided to turn back a mere 120m from the summit of Everest for a variety of reasons. It was a particularly chaotic day and I lost a lot of time spending time with some altitude sick teammates.
The decision itself was obviously a tough one. I was deciding to turn my back to the summitI had dreamed about but I knew it was the right choice so I didnt regret it.
I then had a period of trying to look to the future rather than reflecting on the 2010 and I decided to go back. I wanted to finish my 7 Summits where it should end, on top of the world, and I knew I could do it.
What were the highs and lows of the challenge?
Completing my 7 Summits challenge by spending over an hour on the summit of Mt Everest will be something that will stay with me for the rest of my life so that was an obvious high.
One of the things I will also take away from the past four years is the people I have met and the relationships I have forged.
The obvious low is when I turned around in 2010 and constantly explaining to people why I didnt summit that was tough.
What training methods and kit did you use?
The best way to train for mountaineering trips is to climb as much as possible and keep those muscles working as well as getting used to wearing a rucksack for over eight hours a day.
Running / cycling / swimming maintained my cardiovascular fitness.Playing golf in St Andrews three times per week also made a difference. I felt I could only justify that one if I made the top though.
You have been raising money for the RNLI, why? How are you raising sponsorship?
I was actually the first person to summit Everest in aid of the RNLI, which gave me a huge amount of pride.
I chose the RNLI because my family have always supported it; they rescued my Grandfather twice in WWII, so I grew up with the charity. I am raising funds for them on my online donation page.
What now? Do you have other challenges up your sleeve?
In the immediate future I need to relax. I have spent every day for the past four and a bit years working towards my 7 Summits so actually completing that is quite surreal.
I will return to St Andrews and after that join the British Army.
In between though, there are definitely challenges that grab my attention.Going to Northern India and getting a first ascent of an unclimbed mountain certainly appeals.
Finally, we had a response recently from the muchbetter community who wanted to know:
In a world that has been totally explored, the highest mountains climbed, the seas crossed, the forests penetrated, what is next for the future of adventure?
I think that people can always make their own challenges. If you want to push the boundaries there are a number of ways to do so.
There are so many unclimbed routes on the biggest and most dangerous mountains for example.
Adventure will always be there but it might require a bit more commitment to find it.
If you want to find out more about his Everest expedition and his other climbs, check out Geordie’s website.