THE MERRELL BLOG: WHAT'S NOW. WHAT'S NEXT. LET'S GET OUTSIDE.
Q&A with Jake Thompsett
1. We can see that you have a great deal of enthusiasm, experience and skill in a range of sports and outdoor activities, but do you have any one sport that you’re particularly passionate for?
That’s a tough one! It’s a joint first between fell running and climbing, when all the mountain races are going on (in particular when the Original Mountain Marathan is approaching) I’m utterly addicted to fell running and discovering the minimalist style of running in the Merrell barefoot range only increased that addiction, but as soon as the weather is warm and sunny, or the Scottish winter rolls in, I can’t keep away from climbing. My ideal weekend would probably be a long morning fell run, followed by an afternoon of Scottish winter climbing, then a day of sunny rock climbing on Sunday… perfect!
2. What inspired you to pursue your enthusiasm for outdoor sports to the extent that you set up your own expedition company JT Expeditions?
I have a real passion for challenge, always looking for new experiences, and developing people through the use of the outdoors, this is what lead me to pursue a career in the outdoors as an expedition leader and instructor. There is rarely a moment where you aren’t being either physically challenged in the jungles and mountains, or mentally challenged whilst trying to resolve a situation, and I’m yet to meet someone who hasn’t been positively affected by getting outdoors!
3. As an Expedition Leader and Outdoor Instructor, what skills do you think are important for these roles?
On top of good all round leadership skills, it’s very important to have the ability to work efficiently under pressure, when problems start arising in a dangerous environment it can be very difficult to maintain a clear head and resolve situations so having the ability to stay calm, analyse the situation, and then give precise and effective instructions to your group is vital. There’s nothing worse than seeing a leader panic and “flap” when things starts to go wrong, sometimes you just have to take a step back and think!
4. Having travelled the world for various expeditions and adventures, what has been your most enjoyable and rewarding experience?
It’s going to sound cheesy, but the most rewarding experience I’ve had is probably whilst out in Iceland, the group I had with me were young (15 years old) and went from having no experience in the outdoors and no idea of how to stay safe in the mountains, to a self-sufficient team with an impressive set of expedition skills, all in the space of 8 days! It’s one of the main reasons I work in the outdoors, seeing people challenge themselves and go through some real tough times and experience some real lows, to eventually overcome and adapt to their environment to become self-sufficient in the mountains, awesome!
5. Following on from this. What has been the most challenging expedition you’ve embarked on? It what way was it challenging?
A challenging expedition moment for me was in Borneo during my first expedition, my group accidently walked too close to a large wasp nest in the jungle causing the wasps to attack, several group members suffered a large amount of stings to some pretty nasty places, luckily we hadn’t trekked too far into the jungle at this point and were able to get back to base camp for medical attention pretty quickly.
6. As an outdoor instructor it’s imperative that you stay at the peak of physical fitness. What’s your training regime to ensure you stay at this fitness level?
It’s very difficult for me to stick to a set program as I am rarely home, especially when I go on expedition, therefore a big part of my training involves always trying to stay active, and always taking any opportunity to get in a training session wherever I am. Whether that means a pull up session at home in between working on the laptop, or stopping off at a local hill for a run after working in the Brecon Beacons, my Merrell Ascend Gloves travel everywhere with me at the moment! A big part of my work involves taking adults climbing, trail running and training them for mountain races and marathons so that also keeps me in shape.When I do get the opportunity to do more formalised training (in particular the winter and the months approaching a race) I tend to opt for several mid distance runs during the week, coupled with long hill runs and climbing sessions on the weekend. Most importantly I always try to mix it up to prevent getting bored (which happens very easily!).
7. What’s in store for you over 2014? What are your goals for this coming year?
So far my schedule is slowly getting busier and I’m trying to fit as many races and climbing trips in as possible! At the moment, I’m spending Christmas and New Year on expedition in Thailand and Laos before heading to Norway and then Scotland for some Ice and winter climbing. I’ll then be off on expedition again in the summer to take a group along a famous trail in Iceland. My main goals for 2014 are to compete in this year’s OMM Iceland and to climb a peak that I have been eyeing up for a while in the Himalaya with a group of friends.