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Inspiring The Next Generation Of Adventurers

Mountaineer and survival instructor David Love has led expeditions on land and sea to some of the most volatile countries on Earth, but he believes that adventure should be accessible by all of us

Passionate about the power of time spent outdoors, David Love is committed to teaching his extensive survival skills – learned during his career in the British Army and on numerous expeditions to volatile areas – to young people with similarly adventurous ambitions.

But in a high-tech age where few stones are left unturned, just how applicable are the skills he seeks to teach? And if an adventure is what you crave, can the world at your doorstep provide as rich an experience as distant lands?

More than ever, young people need role models to get them off their devices and into the hills

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Q: Did time in the military inspire your life of adventure?
A: ‘I think the opposite is true, actually. I’ve always felt happiest when I’m outdoors and being active, so the Army felt like the perfect job. In reality the job is very different to how I imagined it would be when I was younger, and being on a military exercise in ‘the field’ is not quite as fun as a hike in the hills. But I’ve still loved every second of it, which is why I’m still serving today. It’s a really varied and rewarding career that’s allowed me to travel extensively to places in the world you simply cannot visit under normal circumstances.’

Q: Much of your work is about inspiring young people to take on their own adventures – why do you think that’s important?
A: ‘Some of my fondest and longest lasting memories are those of positive role models, particularly when they’ve helped me discover my spirit of adventure. I owe so much to those people, because they shaped who I am today. I’m now in a position where I can do the same and there’s nothing I enjoy more than getting out with a group of kids in the mountains, and getting them to the top of something they thought was impossible at the start of the day.’

‘Now, more than ever, young people need good role models to get them off their devices and into the hills, and we all have a duty to pass on our skills and knowledge to the next generation. The outdoors is where they’ll get the best education in the world!’

Q: How relevant are survival skills in the modern world?
A: ‘Survival skills are all about having the right mindset: a positive attitude to overcoming challenging situations, your own sense of independence and knowing that you’ve overcome fears and adversity. As a qualified Bear Grylls Survival Instructor, I know that practising these skills as often as you can builds mental and physical resilience and you’ll be able to operate more effectively in your day-to-day routine. You’ll also be less stressed when the going gets tough at home or at work. The world won’t always hand life to you on a plate, so the sooner you can discover your complete independence the better.’

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Q: At 18 you made a solo ascent of Mont Blanc – what did you learn from that early expedition?
A: ‘I learned that having the right level of experience cannot be underestimated. At 18 I had absolutely none, so deciding to climb Mont Blanc solo was, at the very least, reckless. Although I was successful, the climb wasn’t without some big mental and physical challenges, and I learned a lot of hard lessons along the way, such as listening to what my body is trying to tell me, eating and drinking enough, and about how far I can push myself. Above all, I learned that I was a lot more capable that I thought I was.’

Q: How does the preparation for a solo adventure differ from when you’re travelling with a team?
A: ‘The toughest (but also most rewarding) part of solo adventures, is the burden of decision making. You, and you alone are responsible for every decision you make, and you will have to live with the outcome, whether good or bad. This relies on you having all the necessary experience to be in the best position to make those decisions. Where you don’t, the prospect can be a very scary one, and I’ve been in that position quite a few times.’

‘When you’re with others, those decisions can be shared and discussed, with someone that you trust always checking your thinking. Don’t get me wrong, when you make those decisions alone and everything does go to plan, it is very rewarding. But then it’s equally awesome to share those experiences with someone else, too – it’s how life-long friendships are forged.’

Q: Your expeditions have subjected you to both sub-zero and sub-Saharan conditions – which are more challenging?
A: ‘Both have very different challenges and I enjoy them equally. But they can both be very dangerous at the extreme end of the spectrum. It’s all about how you prepare that will determine your level of success. Extreme heat is by far the more challenging as access to drinking water, hyperthermia and exposure to scorching conditions quickly become life-threatening problems. Personally, if I had to choose, I think I’d prefer the cold – you can always warm up in the cold by keeping active and adding more layers; you have far less options to cool down in extreme heat.’

Q: Is it possible to have an adventure without leaving the UK?
A: ‘Absolutely. Some of my best trips have been in Great Britain. As an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, it’s my role to make everyone aware of the countless adventures right on our doorsteps. Whether you go to you local green space to climb a massive tree (without falling out of course) or jump in the car and head to your nearest National Park, as long as you’ve not been there before and there’s an element of unknown risk – guess what, you’re on an adventure.’

To find out more about David’s work as a mountaineer and expedition leader visit loveadventures.co.uk and follow him @_LoveAdventures

Words: Issac Williams

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