David Love is a UK Adventurer, Mountaineer and Expedition Leader. He’s also an Instructor with the Bear Grylls Survival Academy and a self-confessed adrenaline junkie.
David’s passion for the outdoors was forged at a young age in the rugged mountains of North Wales and the Scottish Highlands, where he spent the majority of his time n between studying for his degree in Sports Science and the effects of high altitude training. At the age of 18, and despite having only climbed a small handful of UK peaks, his first venture into Alpine Mountaineering was a solo ascent of Mont Blanc, cementing a life-long love for adventure. Before joining the British Army at 21, he qualified as a Mountain Leader and Expedition Coordinator for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, undertaking several expeditions across the world, both by land and sea.
Having spent several seasons climbing throughout the European Alps, David has now made multiple ascents of the ‘Alpine Big Three’; Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and the Eiger. In early 2017, he also completed a solo winter traverse of the Transylvanian Alps, to reach the summit the highest mountain in Romania; a journey that involved permeant sub-zero temperatures, unplanned emergency snow holes and a very close encounter with a mountain bear! He’s also travelled to some of the world’s most volatile countries, including Afghanistan, Somalia, North and South Sudan, Libya, Mali and other vast swathes of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. He now spends much of his time leading young people in some of the UK’s most challenging environments with the aim of inspiring the next generation to discover their own spirit of adventure.
Here’s our interview with him:
WHO OR WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
Well, I have always felt inspired by stories of the world’s greatest explorers and adventures. In particular, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s notorious voyage to Antarctica in 1914 is probably the greatest example of human endurance, determination and overcoming the odds. But more so, I am genuinely inspired by ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things. It shows that literally anyone can have an adventure – all you need is a ‘can do’ attitude and the confidence to take that first step.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
As a schoolboy, I watched as other pupils took part in exciting activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and overseas expeditions. In them, I saw a group of young role models that were remarkably confident, had succeeded against adversity and now clearly destined for great things. Everything I was lacking at the time. Above all, they had some really amazing stories to tell! I wanted to be like them!
Having now followed a similar path myself, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be a fraction of the person I am today without opportunities like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. It helped me develop my adventurous spirit and taught me compassion and empathy for others, the environment and the community. It also taught me to never give up and to keep pushing the boundaries of my own comfort zone. And of course, I now have a few exciting stories of my own to inspire the next generation of young leaders and adventurers.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE?
Being true to yourself, fulfilling your potential and living life to the full. In the end, nobody wants a life of regrets about the things they could have done. So as the saying goes ‘you only live once’ – but if you live your life to the full, once is enough!
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Adventure, in any form, and exploring new places. I love the feeling of freedom when venturing into the unknown in the knowledge that I am ultimately responsible for my own success of failure. You get the most profound sense of achievement when you achieve, or even exceed, what you initially set out to do; reaffirming that you’re more than capable of facing and overcoming difficult challenges. However, even if you do happen to fail along the way, you’ll learn some really important lessons – making you stronger and more likely to succeed the next time round.
Traditional British Fish and Chips on a Friday also makes me happy!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR TOUGHEST MOMENT?
Climbing Mont Blanc, solo, at the age of 18, without any proper experience of mountaineering. Not only had I never been to the Alps before but, at that stage, I had only ever climbed a very small handful of peaks in the UK. Yet I was totally determined to succeed and did as much I could in preparation before I set off. When I finally sat on the summit of Mt Blanc for that very first time, completely alone, it was without doubt the toughest thing I had ever done at the time, yet also the most rewarding. However, I believe that we only truly grow when we face adversity and push the limits of our comfort zone. It’s only when the chips are down and we need to overcome challenging situations that we learn from our mistakes and really discover the most about ourselves.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED MEMORY?
My most treasured memory is possibly my earliest memory of adventure. It was when I was about 4 years old and living above my grandparent’s shop in a sleepy sea-side town in Kent, England. The shop was a very odd place to describe; a sort of collectables store, selling all manner of curiosity items, antiques and military bric-a-brac. I vividly remember the dank and musty smell of old military uniforms and dusty antique furniture. I would literally spend hours hidden away down the various nooks, simply sifting through box after box of the most interesting artifacts; old photographs, expedition journals and other colonial knick-knacks. A particular favorite of mine were the entomology displays of butterfly’s, bugs and other creepy-crawlies. They really stirred my imagination and conjured up images of exploration and daring in far-flung lands. I believe this is where I first discovered my own flame for adventure, and it’s certainly my fondest memory.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
“Anyone can be uncomfortable”. My father, being an Ex-Royal Marine, once told me this before I joined the Army. In its most basic sense, the sentiment means ‘be prepared’, such as not forgetting your waterproofs and getting caught out by the rain, or simply failing to even check the weather forecast in the first place! But I often contemplate this advice in a more philosophical sense, applying it to almost every aspect of my adventures – I expect the best, but always plan for the worst. This advice has certainly got me out of trouble on more than one occasion!
WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS WANTING TO GET INTO ADVENTURING?
Approach every challenge in life with a positive, ‘can do’ attitude. If ever I begin to feel doubtful or nervous that a climb, journey or expedition seems too big to comprehend, I simply break it down into smaller manageable chunks. I plan how to complete each section, working out the problems I’m likely to face and how to deal with each one – there’s always more than one way to get round something. Before you know it, your small collection of achievable steps would have lead you to the end of the most incredible adventure. It sounds very cliché, but it’s still very true; that life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. So take your time, pause often, soak up the views and just enjoy the experience – they are memories that will last you a lifetime.
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?
That we are all far more capable than we think we are. So seek out the opportunities that push the limits of your own personal comfort zone, no matter how small or insignificant you feel that might be at the time. The more often you do this, the quicker your horizons will expand and the more adventurous you will become.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
In Aug 2017, I’m leading a small group of individuals and Duke of Edinburgh Award holders, with no prior experience of Alpine Mountaineering, back to the summit of Mt. Blanc. It’s a journey that changed my own life and, as a team, we want to encourage and inspire the next generation of young adventurers by demonstrating what you can achieve when you put your mind to something. We’re also hoping to raise some much needed funds and awareness for the Award – so please look us up on social media using #MtBlanc17 or visit the website to support this remarkable cause.
You can find out more about David, his adventures and the MtBlance17 Challenge by visiting his website at www.LoveAdventures.co.uk or on Social Media using @_LoveAdventures