Climber Jake Meyer has reached many summits, had many adventures - you can hear his mountain stories at his Marlborough lecture
Jake Meyer has a passion for climbing. Whether it's the Marlborough College climbing wall or his recent attempt on K2, he embraces the challenges.
On Thursday, November 24, Jake Meyer will be giving the Kempson Rosedale Enterprise Trust's lecture in the Memorial Hall at the College: "Jake Meyer- Reaching for the Top - A Marlburian's life of adventure: from Kilimanjaro to K2". (Full details of the lecture are here.)
The Marlborough-based charity the Kempson Rosedale Enterprise Trust funds selected students from St. John’s Academy or Marlborough College who plan to spend holiday time or gap years undertaking an enterprising and challenging activity. They look for young people with ideas for inspiring and remarkable activities, which will enrich their lives.
It is very obviously a charity that ticks boxes for Jake Meyer. He was twelve when he got his first taste of climbing - during a visit to the College he tackled the climbing wall.
He told Marlborough-News about his experience of climbing while a student at Marlborough College: "My fondest memories of early climbing days as a student at Marlborough are the trips to Swanage in Dorset, or up to our outdoor activity centre in Snowdonia."
Jake has held several records for being the youngest to reach mountain summits - including Everest and the Seven Summits, which are the seven highest mountains on each of the seven continents. We asked him whether breaking records have a special appeal for him?
"Yes – when I summited Everest in 2005 I was the youngest Briton to do so, and the youngest man in the world to climb the 'Seven Summits'. For the 'Seven Summits' it was very much the age record as the youngest to complete them that was the catalyst to go and do them. In life, it’s too easy to procrastinate and say ‘yeah, one day I’ll do that’."
Apart from breaking records, what is your main motivation? "My main driver for undertaking all of these adventures has been the opportunity to challenge myself, to keep pushing my own boundaries."
"I think that is why I fell in love with climbing in the first place: pretty much all other sports involve competing against other people or teams, whereas with climbing, the only person you compete with is yourself. You can spend a day climbing with someone of a significantly different - better or worse - standard and you can still both have an incredibly fulfilling time."
His most recent expedition was an attempt to reach the summit of K2 on the China-Pakistan border. At 8,611 metres it is the world's second highest mountain and its reputation as a very dangerous mountain to attempt has given it the nickname of the 'Savage Mountain'. This was Jake's second attempt to reach the summit and it nearly ended in disaster.
On 22 July a huge avalanche wiped out their carefully prepared camp at 7,300 metres. This destroyed their and other teams' supplies - specifically supplies of oxygen - and the Sherpas called a halt to further climbing and they had to abandon their attempt.
Since 1980, nearly half K2 climbing seasons have passed without an ascent. Will Jake try K2 again? "Before I left for the expedition this summer I said to myself that if it didn’t work out, then I wouldn’t return. However, having had an incredible experience back on the mountain, despite the frustrations of abandoning our summit attempt, it has made me yearn for a return."
"I’m always very conscious that safety - your own and the team's - must be absolutely front and centre in defining success on any trip – not the summit itself. The mountain’s not going anywhere, so I live to climb another day!"
This expedition was supporting the Walking with the Wounded charity: " I haven’t done all of my trips with a charitable element in mind, but for those that I have, I’ve been incredibly proud to support some fantastic charities over the years, and blown away by the generosity of all those who’ve donated to the charity as a result of my adventures."
Apart from his climbing career, Jake Meyer served with the British army in Afghanistan - where there are some 'incredible mountains', but in Helmand they had 'enough dangers to worry about'. He is now active in the army reserve:
"I am the second in command of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, which is a Cirencester based Squadron of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry - the nation’s only Armoured Reserve Unit, and we train on Challenger 2 main battle tanks."
Jake Meyer now works as a leadership and management development consultant for the Inspirational Development Group: "We specialise in creating measurable and sustainable change in organisations through designing and delivering individual and business performance improvement programmes."
"We are fortunate to also have a unique partnering agreement with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which allows us to operate and run programmes for our clients at the world’s most prestigious leadership development Academy."
The Kempson Rosedale Enterprise Trust was formed in 1988 in memory of a much revered Marlborough College master and mountaineer, “G” Kempson. In 2009 the trust was extended by Rachel and Barney Rosedale commemorating their son Rupert Rosedale, who died in an avalanche on Ben Nevis.
We are grateful for use of such stunning photographs - they are all from Jake’s 2016 attempt in K2.