"Working in the mountains year round means that I have more than a passing interest in the equipment I use on a day to day basis. When asked to become a Haglofs friend six years ago, the opportunity to collaborate with such an innovative brand was an easy choice and one that I continue to be excited about today."
James Thacker is an IFMGA Mountain Guide based in the Peak District (UK) and works here as well as in the Scottish Highlands and the European Alps. The crags and moorlands of the Pennines offer climbing at all levels giving almost unlimited possibilities to climb with clients.
"The Derbyshire Peak District has been the foundation of many peoples climbing, and like many others I have chosen to seek adventure in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands, "The Alps" and Himalayas. All of which are areas I choose to join like minded people in today; whether it be in rockshoes, crampons or on ski."
Such a varied outdoor life brings very real challenges in the equipment that James chooses to use giving a vital opportunity to improve Haglofs products.
James has carried out expeditions worldwide - Greenland, Lemon Mountains, Nepal Pharilapcha 3rd ascent of 'Snotty's Gully' ED1
Lives: Chamonix (Fr) and Sheffield (UK)
Role models: Growing up close to the Peak District my first climbing idol was Jonny Dawes. His bold and dynamic style was captured in the film Stone Monkey and featured lots of hard routes on the Derbyshire Gritstone – I watched that film over and over as a teenager and fell off more of his routes than I completed! As my climbing changed so did my idols, and people like Graeme Ettle and Godefroy Perroux had a huge influence on my early mixed and ice climbing. Later I met the legendary alpinist Alessandro Gogna who inspired me to climb the classic North Faces of the Alps.
Three words to describe me: Honest, Driven, Geek…?
Favorite food: ”Full English” after a big route. Not for breakfast but another firm favorite is a pint of Pale Rider from Kelham Island Brewery in Sheffield (sadly you don’t get this in Chamonix).
If I was prime minister for one day, I would: Try and ensure that funding in the UK for Local Education Outdoor Centres remains. Many of these centres have been threatened by closure in recent years and they are integral to young people’s health and well being as well as simply accessing the outdoors for the first time.
The best thing about being in the mountains is: For me being in the mountains always feels like a humbling experience. Ultimately, we are pretty insignificant in the varied, changing terrain, and conditions of the mountains. In the context of geological time our influence is transient so for me one of the most powerful things is to enjoy the moment, the small things, the smell of rain on granite, the fresh tracks you have just made, and the shared experience with your companions.
I never travel without: Passport and iPhone/iPod.
My motto: The Mountains enrich our lives greatly but always present hazards and I often find myself using Edward Whymper’s famous quote ”Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”
Something you don’t know about me: Studied as a geologist, became a Civil Servant but really always wanted to be a Mountain Guide OR a fast jet pilot!
Season plans: Really looking forward to the 2014 season. This year is a little different for me as I have spent the last 10 winter seasons in the Scottish Highlands. In 2014 I am based in Chamonix for the winter and will be concentrating mainly on working on ski. Having said that I also have plans to climb in Norway, and to head to the excellent Troms and Lyngsalpene in the spring.
Days in the mountains per year: Simply try to be in the mountains for the majority of the year whether its in the rolling moorland and mountains of the UK or in the Chamonix Aiguilles.
Latest book I read: It was actually Grandes Jorasses: Face Nord – a guidebook to one of the most famous north faces, and one which I haven’t climbed – YET…..