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Aaron Rolph (extreme athlete)

On today’s Podcast, we have Aaron Rolph, an Adventurer and Photographer. Aaron recounts his recent solo attempt to ski the Haute route non-stop, which he completed in just 24 hours. 

Anyone unfamiliar with the Haute Route is a 125km high altitude journey that connects the iconic Alpine towns of Chamonix and Zermatt. The route was first pioneered by the English Alpine club as far back as the 1860s and has since become arguably the most prestigious and coveted multi-day ski tour in the world. The route from Chamonix to Zermatt via Verbier is usually skied over a week, covers 125km, and climbs almost 8,000m in ascent.

In doing so, he became the first person in the world to complete the popular Verbier route in a single push, proving that ordinary people can achieve the extraordinary if they just set their mind to it. He recalls what it’s like to ski alone through the night, his experience filming extreme sports documentaries, and country appreciation.

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Transcript of our Conversation

Aaron Rolph

[00:00:00] Aaron Rolph: Well, it’s been absolutely incredible to get you on finally after all these months. And I think what’s so interesting about your story is how, you know, over the past couple of years you set up this amazing company, the British adventure collector. From that you’ve been doing these incredible trips for people who don’t know you, probably the best place to start.

I always like is at the beginning and about how you fell in love with this sort of adventurous life and these adventure. So I was actually pretty fortunate to grow up in the lake district in the Northwest of England. So to be honest, there wasn’t a great deal of other options other than to get into advance.

There’s not a great deal going on in Korea, other than lots of mountains, plenty of lakes. That was really lucky. Cause I was raised in the Hills and sort of running and, and fell walking and, and mountain biking. Yeah. From a young age and then sort of started to gain more independence on my adventures, I suppose, from there my [00:01:00] teen years.

And yeah, it’s just gone. Projects have just got bigger and bigger and you know, looking a bit more international over recent years as well. Yeah. Been funded now. When I end up in Germany, which is a pretty great place to be based for adventure, no shortage of mountains. They’re a little bit bigger than that.

Yeah, well, that was the thing is like you, you used to be based in London and then you set up shop in Chamonix. What was the sort of first advent bencher, like big adventure, which sort of struck a nerve and made you sort of go, right. I want to sort of take this a bit. I mean, I actually came to Chamonix for the OTR back in, I guess, four years ago.

So for those who don’t know, the hope is a. A classic traverse from Chamonix to Zimmer. It’s usually done over six, six days or seven days. It’s 125 kilometers with 8,000 meters of scent. So I [00:02:00] did that in the usual format with some friends, and that was my, kind of my first proper ski tour experience and absolutely fell in love with it.

And I mean, Chamonix obviously is an iconic town with a huge reputation, but it’s just the amount of landscape and terrain here is just infinite. You could probably spend a title. Exploring this region and still not complete it sort of thing. So yeah, I kind of fell in love with it from there. And then I managed to come back out last winter and although ski lifts were of course closed, managed to do a lot of ski touring and got got reasonably fit during that winter with no other choice other than getting the skins on.

It’s it was sort of that trip and the sort of planning that goes into one of these trips. I mean, how does the idea from concept to reality sort of come about with that? It’s a trip I had in mind from the whole of last winter sort of, I guess, a bit of a pipe dream idea. And then as I got fitter throughout the winter, sort of became a little bit more.

[00:03:00] Potentially realistic things to try. So yeah, I record the route a little bit beforehand and checked to see, you know, that I was confident on the region and as built my days to get bigger and bigger, I decided to, to try. And one big push is actually, I’m a British schematic and photographer called Ben Tibbetts who I’d seen, had done the route originally.

And then I decided to have a go the Verbier variant of the route, which is the most popular. Which as far as I need, I wouldn’t have it done in one, one push before in one day. So yeah, it came to spring time and then it was time to give it a go, got my equipment sort of refined over the, over the winter.

And I hadn’t really done a day bigger than 3000 meters of scent. So it was essentially a bit of a bowl and taking, but with enough food and a bit of grit decided just to go for it and I’m not okay. So, yeah, so usually stunned it’s usually done [00:04:00] over seven days, you decided to do it in 20. Yeah, that’s right.

So there’s just some don’t really know what it was about the trip, because I’m not really necessarily don’t do it per se. And I certainly am not a ski Mountaineer in terms of wearing Lycra and skiing on super lightweight ski. So it was a bit of a. At an article project in a sense, but I kind of just got excited about the prospect of just setting off with me or, you know, my own Southern trip with my skis from Chamonix and kind of like the idea that it’s sort of no sleep before I reached Surmac, wherever that was whenever that was going to be.

So actually it ended up taking about 30 hours in the end which was, yeah, it was just a big adventure and the main goal, I guess, to make sure I was safe and I could do it was to get there before the second year. So I set off for the early hours of the morning, 8:00 AM, skip through the day. Yeah, as you said, when via or glacier to tour, went down to Sean [00:05:00] pay and then cycled to Verbier and then from Verbier went to a roller and then over to Zermatt and yet I’ve got there sort of in the afternoon, the following day.

And it was just a big old adventure. I mean, it was painful. It was tough, but actually. It didn’t feel like there was no point with that said I didn’t want to be here. Or was it enjoying it? Which is. Yeah, because that’s the interesting thing is the bit from Chamonix to verbiage, because I was meant to be doing the patrol of the glass here, which is reverse route from just a map to Verbier.

But from verbiage Chamonix, you have to go down the mountain and then back up don’t you, in terms of, and in the spring, there’s no snakes. So you were cycling once you’d got down up the windy roads to Verbier, to. And then what at the sort of Metra and lift at 1500 then skinned up that’s right. Yeah. So I, I [00:06:00] obviously connect

By bike because the snow coverage is rarely given it’s something. Most people just jump on a bus and then grab the left, but I’ve silenced it, human powered. So the cycle actually provides a really nice. Intermission, but from all of this catering it felt quite different, you know, different muscle groups, change of scenery.

Although as you say, it was a big, old grind up to Verbier, it did feel a little different than quite jovial, but then yeah. Back on skis from February Amundsen skinned out through the resort and then down towards well, yeah, between back to Ross and I think we call the Yeah, and it just started getting dark.

The fitness sort of, I think it was a reasonable lane. And with the backdoor, Roscoe leaving OBE and as dark, this palette is pretty epic senior. And just to be scooting along by myself and the sunset we’d had in verbiage. And you remember you, you spent time in Berger, [00:07:00] you always just get the most magic sunsets.

It’s. Yeah, it’s an incredible sort of self-facing resort, which looks way down the valley and yeah, you do get these sort of epic sunsets that’s happened there and even some writers and sort of the, what was the sort of feeling like sort of skinning on your own in the middle of the night from verbiage towards.

I think a special feeling. You know, obviously a lot of people asking you worried or scared, and so it was quite calm. It was quiet and it was, I don’t know, it was a very pure experience. And when you’re by yourself in such a, an extreme environment, everything feels very heightened. The things were extreme.

So small, small things become, they feel like so much more to you. But yeah, I kind of thrive on that independence. There’s no one else that, but yourself to the coffee yourself. [00:08:00] So you just kind of have to take it easy and manage any hesitations or fears you may have. And yeah, the, the scenery was just unreal and, and thankfully it was a good night.

Obviously I didn’t do it in a bad weather day. It was a nice evening and there was potentially going to be some light snow showers and nothing came in. So it was, it was great, but yeah, just, just following the path, making sure I was. With the right way as I get progressively more tired was obviously key, but no, just drive to the situation to go on this.

Were you studying maps beforehand or had you sort of not walk the route, but like studied it quite hard to know where not to go off the path because it’s for people listening it’s it’s back country. So. That it already been sort of skinned out in a sense, not skinned out. That’s probably the wrong word to use, but true.

There was a skin track to follow. Yeah. Yeah, [00:09:00] exactly. So you do, I mean, I had studied the route in quite a lot of detail and I’d actually done cause I’d never previously done the Verbier section. So two weeks prior friend and I went to do a bit of Iraqi and get used to the brief. So over two days we took our time and.

But it’s know in the day. And obviously if you can visualize it in the day, it’s easier to understand and navigate at night when you can see so much less. So yeah, I mean, it’s all glacial terrain, so you certainly don’t want to take too much of a wrong turn. Plenty of grasses. You don’t want to pull into.

Yeah. Especially like for someone who’s, as you say, probably listening would sort of be more sort of fearful towards Avalon chairs because you’re going off piece. But in terms of the route that sort of laid out, would you say that it was relatively safe and well-trodden yeah, I would say that, yeah, there’s there is one deviation I took, which was to kind of cut a section off as.

[00:10:00] Which involves skiing, sort of a 40 degree kind of mini cooler. That was a little bit spicy this place. And it was had some quite big ice chunks on it, sort of avalanche temporary. So that at night it was a little bit more committing the most of the roof, but you wouldn’t have to go on that. So if people are interested in, it’s pretty mellow on the and stuff too extreme it’s just obviously making sure that.

You’re going the right way, the right time. And in terms of avalanche risk, the funny thing about night and that as well, the speed in which you can traverse it’s actually far better at night because of course everything’s everything’s hard. The temperatures are cool. It’s stays. Okay. So actually that I can see further than, you know, 20, 30, 40 meters in front of me.

And the navigation was difficult. The snow safety was actually probably a lot greater. And there’s a, there’s a large section on the verbate rate, which relies on the really good shivers to hold as much height as you can. And that in spring conditions in the afternoon can be really tough because it’s all soft and [00:11:00] you’re pulling in.

You know, most of it was actually at night, I was flying along, you know, Ms. Rock-solid icy snow say actually had benefits. Amazing. And yeah, that’s the thing is, I suppose, being out in this sort of back country or the mountains at night, all Elaine, it’s just, that’s just must your, your senses just must’ve been so heightened and just this most incredible feeling, you know, there was this, your first big trip doing, say in terms of.

UVA, you’re basically your first big, big adventure into more extreme stuff. Yeah, I think that was my first sort of nighttime full nighttime Alpine adventure, I suppose, which is quite a big committing, you know, decision to keep skiing. Or we went through the night no matter [00:12:00] what happens. So yeah, it was, it was pretty intense.

It was a great. But as you say, you just feel everything. You feel that the sound of the snow, the, you know, the, the way that the light, the Moonlight is glancing on, on the crystals of this day, everything just feels heightened. Actually listened to some music sections as well. It just puts you in quite.

Private mind. And then, you know, when the sun started to come up, eventually the other end, you know, is a pretty tough couple of hours between three and five in the morning. And then by the sun does come back. It’s just this whole new lease of life, this whole new energy that, you know, promotes you forward.

And what was the feeling like getting into Zermatt and the sort of feeling of finishing in just over 24 hours, 30 hours. I read that usually takes seven days. It was quite surreal. The feeling, it was almost anti-climatic if I’m honest, it was like, you know, I, I [00:13:00] spent a winter or longer thinking about this thing that I didn’t know it was possible.

And then when I reached out, it was almost like, oh, it’s done. I suppose, to people, people have that feeling sometimes when they do something that they weren’t sure they were going to be able to do. Yeah, it felt quite surreal. And I actually, if I’m completely honest, I think I might have more in the tank.

I wasn’t completely done. Which is interesting. It does open my eyes to the prospects. Can I go further? Can we do something bigger in one big day? That’s always a very dangerous, a dangerous psyche. I, I, when you get that feeling of like, you’ve sort of completed something, which you never thought was possible, and then you’re like, oh, I can demo and then you stray and start pushing it.

And then after that, did you feel that you were sort of hooked on this and wanted to actually explore it further? See how far you could go? Yeah, something that’s been [00:14:00] on my mind, particularly now, this winter being out in Sherman is. Push a little bit more and do a bigger day out to the equipment I used because I kind of wanted to enjoy the skiing.

And the day I actually wore very ordinary clothes. Didn’t really like, I didn’t have skimo skis kind of ordinary touring skis. So I do wonder if I went. Full schema at the cost of my credibility and adventure, I wouldn’t know how far we could get. But there is there’s an ultra Royal traverse at one block, which is essentially a next one to try.

It’s another huge day, just doing the entirety of the massive again. It’s another Ben Tibbetts project. He’s a good inspiration. He lives just down the road, which was always, he spoke. Yeah, I space. It’s probably sort of similar to we had mark Beaumont on, he circled around the world in like [00:15:00] 92,000 and like six or something and he did it in a hundred and fifty, ninety seven days or so.

And he had pioneers and everything and went around the world, had an amazing time. And then afterwards people started breaking that record and then he went back about 15 years later and got it down to under 80 days. You know, when you cut out everything, you cut this, cut that suddenly. And just laser I focused on time just to see how far you could possibly push.

And that’s something probably you yeah, probably wants to sort of explore further with it is actually, how far can you go from Chamonix tos? Yeah. I mean something I’m definitely keen to look at doing an extension route and safety is a bigger day that can be done. There’s something about one giant day that really [00:16:00] appeals.

It’s just this huge adventure where you’re all in. It’s like this hyper-focus nothing else matters for that. And then obviously after the day it’s all done and dusted and continues, whatever your normal life looks like, but there’s something about that sort of, I don’t know, it’s such a grand adventure in the shortest term that the quiet appeals.

So yeah, what’s this space, maybe I’ll see it go further, go faster. And from that, the, you then started doing more and more of the sort of. Much bigger adventures because beforehand you are very much sort of adventuring and the league districts probably more weeks, weekends. And then that was your first big, extreme trip.

In a sense, the first time you really stepped outside your cut, your comfort, same massively and prepared for it. Still had more in the tank. So with that, were you like, okay, what could I do next?

Yeah, certainly. I think it’s sort [00:17:00] of made me reevaluate my perspective of what is attainable in terms of challenges. You know, as you say, when you think something is just out of reach or a real big push and then suddenly it’s within your, your zone and then suddenly you look further. But yeah, I think a key focus for me will be to go on bigger trips in the, in the future.

As I said to enjoy short, sharp, big pushes. This, I think a very different mental game to do longer trips. So this summer I’m undertaking a longer project, which will be a few months long. And obviously keeping that you know, mindset, focus and drive for three months is a very different psyche to require the 24 hours, but both have their challenges, but they’re very different than, yeah.

And because after that, you, you did the 77 or the Alpine seven. Is that right? Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, it was actually before the Albertson. [00:18:00] And was the idea was sort of cycling to each thing and then climbing, or was it just about the climbing this time? It was just about the climbing. We wanted to try and attempt the seven Alpine countries, hight points in one week.

So I guess a similar it’s, you know, high impact. Intense rush around essentially Europe, but obviously we started off in, in just the vignette and trick laugh. And then we went through to Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and then a physical trip. Yeah. I mean, it was with a friend. It was, it was quite ad hoc to be, be honest.

It wasn’t entirely well-thought-out, but sometimes the best adventures you know, you just go with the plan and seeing how guys, but unfortunately we didn’t quite get the perfect weather from motorized us at different Spitzer. So we only got to the refuge and had to turn back thereafter, but we did the other five peaks of six countries.

[00:19:00] So yeah, it was a hell of an adventure. It was more about sort of like trying to experience the mole then sort of break any sort of record. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. We wanted it to be like a fast paced high energy trip, but the thing that was ended up being quite refreshing, and it’s just the diversity of landscapes.

You, you know, you see the Alps as a uniform, one thing, but the difference between the GBN ops and Savina. Yeah. And, you know, there’s the outs and Chamonix is huge, but culturally and landscape and people, and just to experience in such a short time, the diversity of, of all of those changing on the way this is really.

Yeah, that was sort of the interesting thing. When we went around, we went from like Switzerland, France, Italy, and then in Slovenia, and as you said, trig lab was like, for us, it was just like the may spectacular mountains, like really dramatic. [00:20:00] Whereas other Alpine, maybe Swiss Alps where I was less dramatic, but like, these were sort of.

I don’t know, two thousand one thousand five hundred, like sheer cliff faces out of nowhere just going down. It, it was completely, it was just like mind-blowing because some, I suppose, as you say, sometimes these ad hoc adventures where you’re not really that prepared or what you’re going to see or what you’re going to do, they make for some of the most memorable and most exciting trips.

Definitely, I think as well as the temptation in the Alps to focus on the larger peaks, which usually are in Switzerland, France, or sometimes let’s say so all the 4,000 is really in those countries. Due to go across to you, as you say, Slovenia, you know, to the junior and Alps or Lichtenstein, for example, I think if it wasn’t for this idea, this reason we had to go to lift at the time, I would never have [00:21:00] gone near these peaks, but they were totally remote, quite wild, actually.

The most challenging of all of them was electives done, which is not the highest, I think it was the lowest impact. But yeah. So just to, to have an angle or a reason to tie this triple in together, It just worked really well to, to experience and explore areas that we might not have gone to otherwise.

I think sometimes with these sort of trips, even if you’re just doing it as a sort of thing, it gives you that opportunity just to explore, as you say, these countries, which you otherwise wouldn’t to sort of try and tie them in, because as you say, you lecture and Stein, which you said you probably would never have gone by tying the sort of seven biggest peaks in the seven Alpine.

Mountains by doing that, you get to visit these places you otherwise wouldn’t.

Yeah, for sure. And I think, I think I, I quite often resist the temptation [00:22:00] to sort of bucket list or to, to box check. But in fact, I think there can be some really positives of it. And so long as you don’t let it completely rule your focus. And so maybe you’re not missing out on adventures. But sometimes yeah.

It takes you to places you wouldn’t otherwise have thought about it. And people are quite, I think people can be quite quick to, to negatively judge on people who are just taking off either a bit Wainwrights or Monroes, or, or whatever. But actually I think having a focus to just keep you going back to these places and exploring can be, can be really positive people.

Yeah. I, I agree with that. I think there’s two different ways. Box ticking in a sense, it gives you opportunities to go to places which you otherwise wouldn’t have ever planned or going. And sometimes when you incorporate them into these adventures, as this, as I just said, it sort of gives you that chance to visit lecture and Stein or Slovenia [00:23:00] because this sort of idea, or this going for the big mountains, you don’t, you otherwise would never really go there.

That wouldn’t be any reason, but these places are almost drama, more dramatic. Well, not more dramatic, but in a sense, they’re more, this there’s so much more to them than meets the eye. I think in your expectations as well, if it’s lower or you don’t know much about a place, you can really be taken back when we don’t, you know, you go there and actually you’re surprised by how amazing the places.

More scenery, even he thought, whatever it could be, your expectations defines how, how you’re going to feel about it. And if you go to these big name, mountains, that everyone knows that bloat, you will have an amazing time for sure. But you’ll be expecting to have an amazing time. So maybe doesn’t have that same impact that some of those lesser than peaks can.

Yeah. It’s the idea of, if you go there with no expectation, you’re never disappointed. [00:24:00] Yeah. My choice thing is quite a good one. From all this you’ve set up the British collect adventure collective for people listening. What’s what’s that about?

Yeah. So we set up the collective basically to promote adventures within the UK program to sort of encourage people. And I guess, you know, inform people that there are some unbelievable wild spaces in the UK that a lot of people don’t know. It was bought on a bike packing trip to the Highlands with a few friends.

We just jumped on the train again, very ad hoc. We were ill-prepared we didn’t know what we were doing. We just had the best time or the best trip. So we, yeah, that was kind of like this awakening almost of how truly spectacular some of the UK can be. And yeah, there was a group of friends who decided to come together to sort of.

Our adventures [00:25:00] and imagery to, to inspire people, to make the most of that. And that’s kind of now evolved to, to being a little bit more international as well. So, you know, we take trips abroad, and also produce media for brands as a, as a business aspect. And we also offer experiences for those ones to try activities and stuff in the lakes.

So, yeah. And see. Amazing. Because yeah, also within it, you’ve got Emily Scott, who we had on the podcast and the very early stages about a year ago. She’s sort of involved in it or she taking a bit more of a backseat now. Yeah, she has. She has she’s so she’s not got too much free time to be doing lots of stuff, but she yeah, she did an amazing Monroe project.

Completely self-propelled. Completely self-supported supported for the three, four months. And yeah, we’ll Emily and I’ve done loads of adventures together and we’ll continue to she’s. Yeah, one of [00:26:00] my best adventure buddies she’s reliable. Yeah. Yeah. She’s she’s, she’s great. We had her on episode nine for anyone who wants to sort of check that out, but going back, I suppose, for you, you’re now based in Chamonix and probably looking at more and more of these adventures, what’s the sort of future hold for the British adventure collective and you’ll see.

Yeah, it’s a funny one. We’ve been going through a discussion of whether the British adventure collective can do. Alpine has ventures, whether it matters, whether it’s the fact that we all Brits or whether the adventures need to be in the UK. But I think where we were quite comfortable with the fact that there’s lots of Alpine adventures and you shall many actually has a very long standing history with British tourism from back in the 1920s, all the way through.

But heavily, the breaths have actually had a strong influence into how Chamonix is formed as a town. So it was quite [00:27:00] still quite you know, relevant to be the person adventure collective, but we’ve got quite a lot of UK adventures. So some big trail runs coming some big trips. And then you, I’ve got this big summer project, which will reveal more policing.

But it’s going to involve basically traveling around lots of more countries, lots more peaks, and using electric vehicle to travel with. So yeah, they’re really exciting. Exciting one. It sounds amazing. And I suppose now I, before the podcast start, we’ll sort of discussing about sort of travel and electric and everything.

And I imagine we have electric vehicles now in a trapping around electric all over Europe. Probably shouldn’t be a problem as it might’ve been five years ago. There’s all sorts of. What’s the word? What is the word clearly forgotten? Infrastructure, [00:28:00] infrastructure. That’s the word get together eventually.

I see there’s all sorts of infrastructure for it, and it actually should be a lot easier. As I said, we were planning on doing that. Well, hopefully it’s still am a project looking at a diesel, and it’s the sort of difference between these old petrol, hydrogen and electric for the sort of future or should be nice.

And hold on, let me just check because we only have an hour on this thing. Slightly getting slightly conscious of time. Where are we? It doesn’t. Where is that? So 32 minutes. Okay. We’ve got it. We’ve got a bit more time. Is there any, that’s a 0.7. Oh, and another [00:29:00] thing with. Another thing, which you did in the last year or so was your big cycle from the silly aisles back down to lands end.

What was the sort of purpose behind undertaking this trip? So it’s actually from it’s from Sydney Isles all the way to the Shetland.

extended. Sorry. I, I, my geography, that’s just fucking ridiculous. Okay. I’ll start that again. I say it’s funny. I didn’t know why, like I was going to go to the silly hours this summer and. Anyway, when I sat down, I was like silly aisles, Lantus. And I was like, no, that doesn’t make sense. And then you’re like, right now, that’s completely wrong.

And I did pass three. [00:30:00] That is true, but that’d be in quite a short trip.

But another one of your big trips was cycling from the silly aisles up to John. A great. And what was the reason for undertaking this trip this last summer? Yeah. So it was sort of born out of a locked down daydream if you like. I’d always wanted to do London, total grades in some form, you know, to, to cycle length of the UK film, suck a bit of a Rite of passage for any British adventure.

But it just felt to me like to rush that journey just seemed like a waste. You know, putting all those miles on the bike and going and fairly direct route, I think would have missed quite a lot of the best bits of the UK. So it sort of extended it a little bit. So we went from Sydney aisles all the way to the Shetlands and then did a re a very indirect route, which ended up being, I think, just shy of 3000 kilometers.

And then, [00:31:00] so it basically came through all the best bits that I felt like I wanted to visit. So sort of up and down the Southwest peninsula went fully into Wales to bracket. But then actually the first time, so after I’d got the go-ahead from freedom has returned and I jumped on the bike and went for it.

I actually had a big bike crash doing an activity and severed my colon which is my first hospital trip to date. Didn’t style. It wasn’t, it wasn’t a great day. So I had to then yeah, call the trip and I had surgery. Basically revisit it the following year to finish the job. And what was some of the moments on that trip having gone back a year later or some of the moments that really stuck out for you?

Yeah. So when we resumed the trip, it was, I don’t know if anyone remembers, but last may we just [00:32:00] had this horrible. It’s freezing cold. It was really uncharacteristically called and it was constant rain for about two weeks. So that was the, that was the start and metric again, which is nice. The first week was just getting hammered with rain.

But that was character building. It’s fine. You do a trip in the UK. You’re going to get rained on those part of it. But then when I actually hit the lake district, it was like that, you know, everything. And got us so grateful having had so much rain for so long, we just got amazing weather from, from then on really the rest of the treble through the lakes up into Scotland was just stand down.

So it was pretty spectacular. And I mean, there was loads of different parts of the trip, which were, you know, enjoyable of course, but they, as soon as they hit the Highlands in the sun, there’s just nowhere else. Like it. It was amazing cycling through some of those sort of quieter roads and some of the gravel.

In the Northwest Highlands with, you know, surrounded by big peaks. We went to up in climb silhouette as well, and how to [00:33:00] sort of camp on the top, you know, and you’re looking out and you can just see countless lakes every direction. And you’re a stones throw from the sea. So it’s pretty spectacular. Oh, wow.

Yeah, I came back. I I do remember the may because Emily, Scott and myself were boarding in April and bizarrely. Like the winter been pretty awful. And for that one week we had like really good weather. We had like six days of sunshine, frost, but sunshine. And then one day of pure rain. And then about a month later, quite a lot of people were like cycling and doing all sorts of stuff.

There’s a couple of adventurers and explorers that were doing stuff around the UK. And I was just watching them on yourself, included just get absolutely hammered by the rain. And like, they were just pictures of people just like on their bikes, just like. This is hell, [00:34:00] this is just miserable. Great to on you eventually you just keep getting that right again there one day or half a day.

Fine. But when it just comes again and again, it’s pretty tangent, but almost got used to it after the week. Actually it just became the new norm. Yeah. I’m sort of being for people listening, like being up in the Highlands. Looking out on a sort of sunset. What, how, how could you describe it to them? The sort of feelings that you get when you just look out over the horizon with all these incredible lakes and that sort of feeling.

So almost the feeling of space, like I’ve rarely experienced, it’s just such an expensive area. And as a photographer, it’s interesting. When you always try and do this places, It’s particularly challenging to shoot it. You, you have this obviously lack of detail if you shoot on a wide angle lens, [00:35:00] because it’s just so big, everything looks too small, but you know, when you’re there, it just feels like it just goes on and on.

And it’s, it was more akin to something you’d witnessed in the fields of Norway or, or what fell. It feels semiotic to cut that it’s a really special feeling, but it’s probably worth, we mentioned that this project was actually. So essentially to showcase the amazing activities you can do within the UK in one big bite packing trip, this is called the great escape.

If anyone’s interested to say it’ll do do it far more justice than my words ever advocate. And where can people watch this? Yeah, it’s on Vimeo on YouTube, Sophie to search for British adventure collective. The great escape will come up. Yeah. I mean, we had a, sort of a feed friends of mine following the film crew and they are unbelievable cinematographers.

So to, to really try and portray how incredible this area was, it was, it was great to not have to be shooting it all myself, but said that focusing on the [00:36:00] activities and the ride and the experience. Wow, incredible. Yeah, I think. Well, we’ll leave a description to your sorry, a link to your website in the description below.

So people can check it out at the British adventure, collective.com. There’s a part of the show where we ask the same five questions to each guest each week. With the first being on your sort of trips and expeditions, what’s the one gadget that you always take with.

Yeah, I actually always use my phone controversial. I know obviously a lot of once you got adventures about disconnecting and I do try and reduce the screen time, but I have to say I used fat map or my phone a lot for any reporting. If you’re in complex terrain is just such a brilliant tool to be able to navigate.

You’ve got loads of overlays, so you can see the gradient. You can see that. No, it’s [00:37:00] just such a, a useful bit of cat that I wouldn’t go anywhere without it. And then I can have maps everywhere. I’m going to carry a physical phone. Do you take a little battery pack as well? Yeah, you’ve got to, and obviously there’s an element of reliance on technology here.

So people would probably be a little bit careful if you’re going into tough conditions. You’re going to get rained on heavy, then make sure your phones well protected and the budget. That’s good. Cause you don’t want to be left for them to otherwise. Yeah. I, I tried using what’s he call it like solar panels to charge my phone sometimes and it’s, they usually only work in like really, really hot conditions.

And then if it’s so hot, then it overheats the thing and the battery. So it’s sort of almost counter productive. Yeah, whether it actually works, but yeah, exactly. [00:38:00] What is your favorite adventure or travel book? Yeah, I think Chris Boddington’s ascent is essentially his biography covering a huge range of his career, which is obviously, you know, massive, extensive, but does.

There’s just a real kind of roll grit to that era of mountaineering. And the, the things that they used to climb, it’s just incredible. I just love how poor their equipment was back then and how bold they were. They were just pushing the boundaries and in a way that I’m not sure modern, many modern athletes do.

And there’s something just really exciting about that era, which I think is hard to be. And he’s, he’s a great writer. Of course. Yeah. Why are these adventures important to you?

That’s a good question. I honestly [00:39:00] always start at nine, which is the worst answer ever. It’s so deep rooted to who I am. I, I don’t know how to live any other way. And then that sounds really cliche, but there’s just something that, that is within me that needs to be on, on an adventure of some cuddles.

And then that doesn’t have to be extreme or does it have to be really physical, the waiting that long, but just something with a sense of unknown and, you know, going somewhere that you haven’t been before that sense of exploration bit local or global it’s just, it’s deep rooted. But yet couldn’t quite define it.

Is there like a little motto that you live by when you’re on these adventures?

Yeah, maybe I’ll get well, multigene one quote that I do. Like she really like have you, I presume you’ve seen 14 peaks. Yes. Yeah. When he [00:40:00] says I’m hesitant to sweat, but he says, when you think of Fox, you’re only 45%, five. I just think it’s brilliant. And it’s saturated. There’s so much more in the tank than I think people realize you’re capable of.

And every time you push that comfort zone, you, your, that. Or you push yourself physically. You just find this more in there so long as you can be well fed and have enough water, then there’s just so much more in the tank than you think you’ve got. Yeah, that’s so true. Great, great documentary. Yeah, it’s, it’s, that’s the one thing as, as we were sort of to leading to earlier, when you think you’re done, you can always just go that little bit further.

Yeah, well, you have to find the treat limit. Exactly. What about your favorite quote?

Sorry, that was, that was [00:41:00] quote, I guess a little more say quite well then people listening probably always keen to sort of travel and go on these sort of big grand adventures like yourself. What’s the one thing that you would recommend to people wanting to get started?

Yeah, I think, I think just, you need to be first of all, willing to push your comfort zones. And obviously that’s relative to your experience. So there is no better way just to take the first step, you know? So, so whatever that may be, maybe it’s just a sleeping outside for one. You know, and you’ll do it wrong.

You’ll, you’ll be cold, but nine, you will have the right kit, you’ll get wet. And that’s just part of the learning experience. I think the key is just to have the boldness to, to take that first step, the big move, because we’ve all started somewhere. You know, I’ve definitely, I cycled across Scotland on that backpacking trip on a full suspension mountain bike with a giant [00:42:00] backpack.

It was a brutal experience, but I learned. And without having the, the boldness, just to try those things, then you’ll, you’ll never take the next step and learn. So yeah, just go for it. Yeah. It’s very true. I had talking of like Chamonix where you are. I once cycled up there. Came through like torrential rain and a thunderstorm, all my stuff got wet.

And then I as campaign just about 10, five miles outside, and all my stuff was saved. The brand being up in the mountains, freezing cold. I had to like put on every layer I had in my back in my bag, which was not very much. And then spend the entire night shivering away. And it is by sort of just doing stuff like that.

You learn. Like that was the last time I ever made. I decided now I won’t put it in like a water bag or anything and do it up. Yeah. Yeah. You only do that once and have a miserable night. E-cigarette [00:43:00] yeah, you learn quite quickly. And finally, what are you doing now and how can people follow your adventures in the future?

Yeah. So I’ve just got a collection of adventures planned for the year. So I’ll be doing lots of stuff in the UK and then also out of Chamonix and lots of ski touring and, and ski mountaineering. And if, yeah, if you want to find, find me, you can either go on Instagram, coasts, British adventure, collective, or Aaron Rolph.

Yeah, it gives a follow up of your fall back. Amazing. Well, Aaron has been such a pleasure listening to your stories and quite excited to find out what adventures are brewing this summer.

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me honest. It gets chatting now. Yeah, I’ll be sharing more about that trip soon. So you would have to wait too long.

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