Getting High: A World at my Feet
James Ogilvie’s passion for wild places and ‘getting high’ stemmed from family hill-walks in Wales and Scotland, surviving midges, rain and being dragged uphill in unsuitable footwear. Then came Scouts, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award camping trips, and Oxford University with further-flung expeditions to places like Svalbard. An unlikely ascent of Kilimanjaro followed by Aconcagua seamlessly ‘morphed’ into his quest to climb the seven summits.
The Seven Summits – the highest mountains on each of the world’s seven continents – are often regarded as the crown jewels of mountaineering, a rare prize sought by many but attained by few. The number of Brits who have summited ‘The Seven’ is only around forty, whereas ten times that number have stood on top of Mt Everest; the most famous mountain in the world and of course Asia’s highest point at 8,848m (29,029ft).
Each of the seven summits is unique, each special in its own way. Each varies in its technical demands and each provides an excuse – as if any were needed – for climbing amongst the most spectacular scenery in the world. James Ogilvie, who describes himself as a glass-half-full, pain-avoider personality, brings to his book his own special, often quirky, views on his climbs of the Seven Summits and other mountains.
Believing at one level that climbing the Seven could be thought of as a self-centred ego trip, a kind of glorified ‘Munro bagging’ on a global scale, James, through his climbs to date, has raised some £50,000 for Tree Aid, a forestry-focused charity which provides funding, training and support to local communities in the worst affected parts of rural Africa. In the words of one farmer on a Tree Aid funded project, ‘without trees we have no life’. James might well say the same about mountains.