Blog | On top of the world
If Scouting gives young people the confidence, skills and determination to succeed, then mountaineer, explorer and expedition leader, Rhys Jones is an outstanding example of this. From hearing an inspirational talk about Mount Everest as a young Scout, Rhys set himself on a path that eventually took him to the roof of the world. He is youngest person to have climbed the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, including Mount Everest.
Rhys was this year's key note speech at Reunion 90, and we caught up with him to find out more about his achievements and the journey that took him to the top.
What do you consider your biggest achievement and why?
Climbing Everest was a big personal challenge and the one which has had the biggest effect on my life. That said, I’ve also enjoyed helping other people reach their summits on mountains all over the world, including amputee servicemen on Kilimanjaro.
What was your most exhilarating moment on an expedition?
There are very few if I’m honest, it’s mostly lots of monotonous hard work, with occasional good views and a short spell on the summit if you’re lucky! I always have a tremendous sense of relief after a really dangerous climb, and of course a rush when I get to a summit.
What was your scariest moment?
Falling in to a crevasse in Greenland. I thought I was going to die. Luckily I hit a snow bridge which held my weight for long enough for my climbing partners to pull me out.
What’s the secret to achieving your goals?
Effort. I also found peer pressure was a great positive influence. Proving people wrong can also be a good source of motivation.
What are your ambitions and plans for the future?
Plenty more climbing of course, but also continuing to build the company (Monix Adventures) I run with my wife to provide world class adventures.
Tell us about a typical day in the life of an explorer
On expedition, life is very straightforward, and follows a routine of melting snow for water, moving camp, climbing all day, and repeating the process in the evening. Essentially using many of the skills you learn as a Scout! When not on the mountain, we’re meeting clients all over the world and trying to make their adventurous dreams a reality.
What’s your advice to a young person who wants to become a climber or explorer?
Start small, dream big, and keep at it.
Who are your heroes and role models?
I always enjoyed reading stories from the founders of modern day exploration. Reinhold Messner is a climber I particularly admire for both his ability as a climber, and the style in which he climbed. Ueli Steck is also an incredible athlete, climbing alpine North faces in a couple of hours, stuff that I can only dream of!
Scouting is all about giving young people skills for life. What skills and qualities did you learn in Scouting?
More than I can list, and I also learnt more than I realised. My sense of adventure grew as I moved through Cubs and Scouts. It also equipped me with the skills and experiences to climb mountains, much of which I did with the Hampshire Scout Expeditions team, which was fantastic. Aside from that, I learnt to cook which has been very useful indeed!
What’s your happiest Scouting memory?
I always enjoy simple camping, and even when helping as a section assistant at my old Troop, you can’t beat a back to basics survival weekend. When everything is stripped back to your basic needs; shelter, fire, etc, it’s hard to beat.
Why do you think Scouting is still important today?
Because young people still thrive in the structure it provides. It gave me access to activities I would have never had the opportunity to experience otherwise. Scouting will always be a top place to learn life skills.
What’s your message to volunteers in Scouting?
That they remain the backbone of the organisation, giving up so much of their time so that young people can learn and develop and enjoy themselves. I admire them all and it’s been a pleasure to grow up in a community with such strong Scouting values.