Geordie Stewart is the youngest ever Briton to climb the highest mountain in every continent – a challenge known as the Seven Summits. And this—hold your breath—with no prior climbing experience. He took four years to achieve this incredible feat and published his first book In Search Of Sisu about this period of his life in 2018.
The greatest life lesson for you from your journey so far: Unsurprisingly there are ups and downs physically and emotionally as a trip unfolds but the biggest challenge is often making the commitment to yourself and others to set off. The takeaway, therefore, is that taking the unconventional road can be the one that has the greatest impact on your life. Beyond that, I have been truly humbled by the willingness of people to go out of their way to help me. My #KindnessOfStrangers has been a consistently uplifting theme both for me and others back at home.
How did you sustain yourself while climbing the seven summits: Climbing expeditions are very different from long-distance cycle touring. The former is much less routined with shorter, more intense bursts rather than the relentless day-day efforts of this trip. As such, you sufficiently prepare through nutrition and training to enable your body to be conditioned for what it is about to undertake. When climbing at higher altitudes though, you are looking for high-calorie, low weight food to give you maximum energy. Saying that, my appetite sometimes diminishes on expeditions when I’m really tired so usually have a jar of crunchy peanut putter somewhere close by.
The minus side, if any, of a venture like this: Long-distance solo cycle touring is a challenging but highly rewarding experience; incomparable to anything I’ve done before. There are, of course, times of negativity and deliberation about the journey you’re undertaking and reasons for it – an overthinking mind is both a great strength and debilitating weakness. The main downside has often been overthinking the opportunity cost personally and professionally. I conclude I’m happy with the decision I made but I do miss my family and friends enormously.
Another great challenge on a trip like this is coping with cultural and social situations that put you way out of your comfort zone. Travelling for almost five months across Kazakhstan and China where I knew nobody and did not speak the language brought about some unique difficulties that require creative solutions.
The most surprising discovery you’ve made on the trip: The nature of extended periods of isolation force you to reflect. By removing the distractions, you are given the opportunity to re-evaluate your own priorities in life and for me, that has been a highly enlightening experience.
The most breathtaking sight you’ve laid your eyes on: Two places that have stood out for me on this trip have been cycling for several thousand miles across both the Kazakh Steppe and the Australian Outback. There is something enchanting and disorientating in the beautiful simplicity of deserts.
What’s one essential you don’t travel without: Music for me is one of, if not the most, important travel companion. I can easily choose different music to suit the mood I will be feeling on both on and off the bike. It allows me to be distracted, motivated and contemplative. As much as I value the enormous impact on silence, music stirs an emotional response that I often crave.
Tell us something about your book, In search of Sisu: Writing my book was one of the toughest and most satisfying things I’ve ever done. In fact, as much as ‘sisu’ is about physical and mental toughness, forcing myself to be truly honest and vulnerable in that book was real sisu for me. I’m delighted I wrote it the way I did having given myself the time and space after achieving that ambition to put it into greater context. [Team Travel Secrets adds: In Search of Sisu is a book about Geordie’s ambitious dream, adventure and overcoming adversity to become the youngest Briton to climb the Seven Summits. It reveals Geordie’s transition from a self-doubting teenager battling an all-encompassing eating disorder to a young man who had the belief to realise his dreams.] [Source : Amazon]
Being the youngest person to climb the seven summits, tell us your thoughts and experience: Climbing the Seven Summits had a profound impact on me. Those mountains gave me a focus and sense of genuine purpose I was subconsciously seeking at that key stage in my life. It was far from a smooth journey from beginning to end with numerous obstacles to overcome but it taught me an enormous amount about teamwork, resilience, courage, prudence and kindness.
Geordie Stewart spoke to Kamna Rishiraj of Travel Secrets Magazine