From before his teens John's main interest has always been adventurous expeditions. At the age of 12, he eventually concluded a long campaign to persuade his mother to allow him to cycle the 30km round trip each day to school and back. After school John joined the British Army but wasn't particularly convinced by the merits of Brits killing Serbs, so left by the age of 21 and has committed himself to diverse expeditions ever since.
At the age of 19 John cycled solo from Switzerland to Israel, and at 22 from Los Angeles to the South of France (excluding the Atlantic). He completed a traverse of Europe's longest glacier (Jostedalsbreen) at 19, and a solo traverse of Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc, at 21.
With his new wife, Rebecca, he unsuccessfully attempted an unsupported speed climb without supplemental oxygen on Mount Everest's north face - the couple running out of supplies while awaiting the next safe weather window for the ascent up the Hornbein Couloir.
Once married with children and while wanting to continue doing mountainous expeditions, yet needing to reduce risk, he returned to Africa, establishing Team Kilimanjaro with his wife in June of 2004 at the age of 26. He has been organising climbs on Kilimanjaro ever since, and loves his work!
UK's Unsupported Kilimanjaro Speed Record Holder
John holds the UK's unsupported Kilimanjaro speed ascent record - ascending in 10 hours 25 - but reckons it to be of a very poor standard, and encourages other Brits to better his attempt. For comparison’s sake, note that Team Kilimanjaro verified the current mens’ unsupported ascent and descent world record in a time of 9 hours 21 minutes 47 seconds. This record, which is held by Simon Mtuy, who himself runs an excellent climb operation, SENE, appears in the 2010 publication of the Guinness Book of World Records.
Additionally, Team Kilimanjaro believes that there is already another British man that may have bettered this attempt in the 1960’s, beginning at Rongai and running via School Hut. We would be grateful to hear from anyone with further details of this record.
Other UK nationals - such as Andrew Murray - have achieved substantially better times than John on supported speed climbs.
UK Unsupported Record on Marangu via Barafu
- 10 hours 25 mins 20 secs - ascent only
- unacclimatised, solo, unsupported
- 24th May 2005
Overview of corroboration
The following method of speed ascent record verification represents the most up to date, foolproof, reliable, indisputable and transparent means of public scrutiny to date. To examine the proofs for these records:
- download and install a free trial of Memory Map software
- download and open this low resolution geo-referenced Kilimanjaro map onto which the GPS-captured overlay files will be laid
- download the men’s MMO files here and here
- once overlay files are opened onto the Kilimanjaro map you’ll be able to hover your mouse over any point on the route and get a read-out of the athletes: time from start, instantaneous speed, altitude, etc. Garmin will confirm that these 3 dimensional positional files are not programmable and are therefore tamperproof
Where dense tree canopy cover (ie. below around 2,700m) prohibits GPS reception the following verifies the athlete’s elevation progress and cardiovascular output, also confirming that the attempt was not mechanically assisted:
Heart rate / barometric altimeter verification
- download and install a free trial of Polar Precision Performance software
- then download the athlete’s Polar heart rate / barometric altimeter files
- note that during capture of Polar active files the altimeter cannot be recalibrated without terminating the file. Assuming an authentic starting elevation this feature makes these files tamperproof. Barometric altimeters will however have an error of up to 5% when not calibrated over a course of approximately 4,000m height gain