Name: Stuart Shipp
Mountain Experience: 25yrs
Where did you grow up?: Milton Keynes
Current Home City: Wherever I pitch my tent
Favourite Mountain: Suilven
Favourite food to pack in your rucksack: Chocolate
Favourite National Park: The Lake District
Q. How did you become interested in the outdoors?
A. I spent most of my childhood outdoors on my bike, exploring local woodland and occasionally [ahem] breaking in to the local farmers hay sheds, climbing to the top of the haystacks and building tunnels to race around. But it was going to university in Newcastle that opened up my world to the mountains. My friends were all outdoors-people and they introduced me to rock climbing, scrambling and hiking throughout the UK
Q. What is one lesson the mountains have taught you?
A. Always have a back-up plan as things will rarely go as expected. Remain flexible and make the most of your time outdoors.
Q. Other than boots, if you had unlimited money to spend on one piece of kit, what would it be?
A. A waterproof jacket is the most important piece of kit in the mountains. I've experienced temperatures as low as -40 degrees in far away lands, but the coldest I've ever felt was in +2 degrees on The Kinder Plateau in The Peak District. It was wet and windy and I was close to hypothermic. A good waterproof jacket is critical in keeping the elements at bay (for both wind and rain)
Q. What is one thing you pack in your rucksack, whatever the season and whatever the weather?
A. A headtorch is the first thing that goes in my rucksack* (I'll be wearing my waterproof jacket ;). Firstly, I love the challenge of navigating my way through the night, but sometimes things can go wrong and the day may easily slide to night whilst still in the hills. Having a headtorch will enable me to get out of any situation easily.
* When I climbed Denali, in Alaska, the first thing removed from my rucksack was my headtorch! This was a little unnerving, but with 24-hr day-light, it really wasn't required.
Q. What advice would you give to someone going out into the mountains for the first time?
A. Expect it to be difficult. Whilst there are many mountain hikes that are suggested to be "easy", this is a relative term meaning "easy for mountain hikes". You will still be required to hike for a long period of time with lots of uphill on sometimes steep, uneven ground. If you've never been into the mountains, you've likely never experienced this and it can be a shock when first encountered. But don't worry, it gets easier. Like anything in life, the more you do it, the easier it becomes (oh, and wear comfortable hiking boots!)
Q. What is your favourite season to be out in the mountains and why?
A. I love being in the mountains in all seasons in all weather. In Spring we see new life in plants and animals returning to the hills. In Summer we have the long, warm days (perfect for that post-hike pint in a beer garden!). In Autumn we have the changing colours and golden sunsets. but, it is Winter that is my favourite. The snow adds an extra dimension to the mountains - They come alive! The snow means that the mountains are constantly changing as the snow shifts around and the ice creates a natural challenge to overcome seemingly easy obstacles.
Q. Name three mountains on your bucket list.
1. Like Dave, I've never had a bucket list. I simply enjoy being out in the mountains, away from the crowds, creating my own little adventure.
2. However, I would like to venture above 8,000m. Any mountain.
3. If I were to pick a single mountain to add to a bucket list, it would be Ama Dablam. From the moment I first saw this lump of rock I've had the urge to get out there and climb it... And maybe it will happen in November 2020 ;)
Q. What do you do like to do keep fit when you’re not in the mountains?
A. I am always in the mountains and generally keep fit by hiking, scrambling and climbing. When not with groups I'd hike on my own and when I know I have somewhere to shower at the end of it, I would go on the occasional fell/trail run.
Q. If you could go anywhere in the world that you hadn’t been, where would it be?
A. Antarctica. Ever since I studied Geography at school I have been interested in extreme environments, whether that be natural disasters, erupting volcanoes, extreme heat, or cold. but it is the cold that I love the most and one of the reasons I love Winter Mountains so much. I would love to spend time in Antarctica, hiking the vast nothingness, climbing mountains, or simply photographing the wildlife (who doesn't love a penguin photo?)
Q. What is your favourite mountain/expedition/adventure book? (fiction/non-fiction)
A. Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson (and Simon Yates). This is a book that I recommend even to my non-hiking friends. A book about endurance and personal stubbornness in getting out of a tough situation. The book is gripping throughout and first inspired me to get out into the higher mountains of the world.
Q. What is your favourite City Mountaineering memory?
A. This is a tough one. We've now had 8-years of wonderful adventures with some amazing people. But maybe I'd have to say the first ever City Mountaineering trip, because it was the beginning of my biggest adventure. The nerves were high and I so wanted my first ever group to enjoy their mountain experience and share my love of the mountain environment. It's a trip that proved to be the founding stone of everything we now offer (although, the manor house, four-poster beds and award-winning dinners are a little more extravagant than trips nowadays :)
Founder, City Mountaineering