On May 17th 2006 James Hooper became the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest, summiting just after his 19th birthday. He successfully completed the first manpowered pole to pole expedition in 2008.
James Hooper was educated at Christ’s Hospital School in West Sussex. It was here that James met his expedition partner, Rob Gauntlett.
It was in 2003, that the idea of climbing Everest came to James and Rob and they set about gaining experience for the challenge straight away. In November they headed off to Norway for a two week cycle tour, followed in January 2004 by their first experience of alpine climbing in Chamonix. Further training took them on numerous trips throughout the UK and Europe to improve their skills in many climbing disciplines.
An unsupported 3000 mile bicycle journey from Bilbao to Istanbul. took James and Rob through 15 countries in just eight weeks, quite a feat when considering that many days were over a 100 miles long with 30kg trailers in tow. It was a fantastic test of endurance and beneficial in the development of survival skills needed in the challenge ahead. This took the form of an expedition to the very technical Mount Ama Dablam, a mountain renowned for its striking beauty. Throughout their five weeks in Nepal, they undertook climbing considerably more challenging than they had attempted before, but both arrived on the summit at the beginning of November 2005 to be greeted with fantastic views of their ultimate quest – Everest.
Just a month before they set off to climb to the highest point on earth, they still hadn’t been able to find the sponsorship necessary for the project. This triggered a mad campaign to find the funds, and through sheer determination and long hours they managed to raise the £30,000 needed just in time. When they arrived at Everest Base Camp they found it hard to believe they had made it that far. Using the strength of support from their friends, families and sponsors they overcame extreme cold, debilitating altitude and almost 9000 metres of snow, ice and rock to become the youngest Britons to reach the top of the world.
Less than a year later James (and Rob) undertook the first ever natural powered Pole to Pole expedition, a journey which took them 26,000 miles around the world. Over a period of 14 months they travelled from the Geomagnetic North Pole to the Magnetic South Pole by Ski, Dog-sled, Sail and Bicycle, battling both climatic and environmental extremes. When they finally returned to civilisation, arriving in Sydney in May 2008, they had completed one of the most epic expeditions of modern time. In recognition of their achievement, James and Rob were awarded the National Geographic Adventure of the Year. Tragically, Rob was killed in a climbing accident in the Alps in January 2009.
James continues to inspire others by sharing his experiences through media and motivational presentations. He is keen not only to emphasise the importance of protecting our environment through education and lifestyle choices, but also to ignite a flame in everyone he meets which pushes them to utilise their talents and achieve their ambitions.