About Me

At the age of 12 I had set myself three goals in life in order to help overcome my fear of heights.

The first was to climb Ben Nevis before the age of 16.

The second was to climb Mont Blanc before the age of 30.

The third was to climb Everest before the age of 50.

To date I have achieved the first two of these three life goals and I am now gearing up to attempt to ascend Everest in Spring 2013 when I will be 35 years old. I have a healthy respect for heights now rather than a fear.

I am not a professional mountaineer. I work hard to play hard. Professionally I am a Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) and Radioactive Waste Adviser (RWA). I provide these services through my own small company which I have called RP Alba Ltd. My company commenced trading in April 2011 and my boss (me) is understanding of my desire to complete my three life goals.

When I set these life goals I had no idea of how, when, or if it would be possible to achieve these goals. I strongly believe that everyone should set their own goals or ambitions. These should be challenging and something meaningful to work towards. I did not write down my three life goals but I have mentioned them on occassion to various people and, over time, they have eventually became set in stone (and must be worked towards).

I did my first hillwalk in January 1989, aged 10, up a hill called Cairn Table (1945ft) near Muirkirk in Scotland. At the time I did not realise it, but this was my first Marilyn. I was shocked how dizzy I felt as I gained higher elevation and this, I believe, was related to my fear of heights at the time. This thought was retained in mind and when I started secondary school (Marr College in Troon), aged 11, I joined the Marr College Hillwalking Walk which was run by Martin Adams and Jim Stewart. These two teachers were assisted over the years by various other teachers including Joan Brennan, Tom Strachan and Andy Udris.

The Marr College Hillwalking Club, and in particular Mr Adams and Mr Stewart, have been instrumental in the early development of my hill and mountain craft as well as helping me logistically to attain various summits in the UK.  Mr Adams also acted as my physics teacher for Standard Grade Physics. I fondly remember the teaching on health physics that he gave and my early introduction to radioactivity – my career in radiation protection and radioactivity has stemmed from the introduction to Health Physics that I got at secondary school. Thank you Mr A 🙂

The Marr College Hillwalking Club got me to ascend my first Munro, Ben Lomond, on 19th May 1990. Mr Adams helped me to push my own boundaries as part of overcoming my fear of heights by firstly getting me to ‘thread the needle’ as part of getting to the top of The Cobbler in Arrochar, then teaching me to abseil, then later introducing me to rock climbing and encouraging me to do the UK’s narrowest mainland ridge (Aonach Eagach) in Glencoe. I was lucky to have had such a good introduction to an outdoor activity that was rapidly becoming a significant part of my life and me. The links at the bottom of this page show some YouTube clips of videos made by Charles Francis whilst I was in the Marr College Hillwalking Club – his series “The White Minibus” is fondly remembered by many of us even to this day.

After Marr College, I chose to go to university. I had various options available to me but decided to select the area that I wanted to go to then pick a course. I had the grades to be suitable for Oxford or Cambridge, but I opted for Aberdeen. Aberdeen has two ski centres about an hour away from it, it has numerous hills and mountains about an hour away (and that I hadn’t done at that stage in life), it had an indoor climbing wall, miles and miles of sea cliff climbing and very active outdoor clubs.

So I decided to apply to the University of Aberdeen and I was accepted for an Environmental Science degree, which I later changed to a Chemistry with Environmental Chemistry degree (as I thought that it was easier). Just before starting my first year of university, aged just 17, I had a week-long course at Glenmore Lodge in Scotland where a group of us underwent expert tuition from George McEwan, Blyth Wright and Stevie B on how to lead rock climb.

I joined the Lairig mountaineering club and the Exploration Society in my first years at University of Aberdeen. This saw me travelling far and wide within Scotland almost every weekend. I became quite focussed on ascending Munros when I was at university. Mr Adams had introduced me to rock climbing and abseiling at secondary school as I would need these skills if I was to ever complete the Munros because the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye is a significant challenge. I climbed the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye on one of the Lairig club trips (and have subsequently led numerous other groups up it). I met numerous interesting and talented individuals when I was at university and am still in contact with several of them.

After four years of regular hillwalking, mountaineering, climbing and skiing, I somehow graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a 1st class honours degree (I was even rock climbing the day before my finals!).

Following graduation I moved to the far north coast of Scotland for employment in October 1999 and commenced a career in health physics and radiation protection. When I moved up to the small village of Portskerra in Sutherland, I was once again able to explore another part of Scotland extensively and do many new hills.

I decided to join the Assynt Mountain Rescue Team in December 1999 and I have been a committed team member since then. I have pushed my own personal boundaries further as a member of the Assynt Mountain Rescue Team and I was very pleased when, in May 2000, I climbed and abseiled off of the Old Man of Hoy in Orkney on a training exercise. I served on the team’s committee for a total of 6 years: 5 years as the team training officer and 1 year as a deputy team leader. I stepped down from the committee in order to focus my efforts on my own newly formed business RP Alba Ltd.

In 2012, I was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for my 13 years of voluntary service to the Assynt Mountain Rescue Team.

During my time living in the far north of Scotland I have had numerous opportunities for personal mountaineering and for training to help work towards my life goals. I have met many wonderful people along the way.

I completed the Munros on 18th December 2004 and the very next hill that I climbed was Kilimanjaro, which was the first of my Seven Summits. I have continued to work towards achieving my 3 life goals and, at age 29 and a half, I just attained my second life goal of ascending Mont Blanc before the age of 30. I have one of the three goals that I set at age 12 still to be achieved and I am booked to attempt Mount Everest in the Spring of 2013 when I will be aged 35. In addition to progressing towards my goals I have also been having other adventures and fun along the way.

I hold a Summer Mountain Leader qualification and a Single Pitch Award qualification. With these qualifications I have continued Mr Adams’ tradition of encouraging younger people to participate in outdoor activities and I have taught numerous people to abseil, rock climb or push their own personal boundaries in the mountains. I have delivered some short duration contracts for World Challenge Expeditions (WCE) in Poland and Morocco where I was employed as the WCE Overseas Expedition Leader.

With all of the outdoor and professional activities being undertaken it is often possible to neglect personal life whilst being single-mindedly driven towards attaining your goals. In the summer of 2012, whilst out in the middle of the wilds of Cape Wrath, I met my now fiancée Sarah Smith. We got engaged on the 20th October 2012 whilst out in Gibraltar (I was keen to go for the high point of the peninsula and she wanted to see the Europa Point lighthouse) and we will be getting married in October 2013 after my attempt on Everest.

Throughout my life I have met numerous interesting, supportive individuals and received much love and support from my family. Despite my mum telling me “not to climb” when I was a toddler, my parents have been amazingly supportive of me in life and helping me towards achieving my goals. I know that I could not have achieved all that I have done so without their support, so thanks Mum and Dad – you are the best 🙂

 

Life is an adventure, we only get one shot at it, dream your dreams and try to also live your dreams. 

My journey in life so far has seen me visit each of the continents of the world, experience some amazing experiences, have some terrifying experiences but also seen me progessively attain dreams. The attempt to ascend Everest as part of trying to attain my third life goal is for attainment of a personal goal, however, please can I encourage you to consider sponsoring me in this endeavour to help raise money for charity and increase the societial benefit of this activity. Thank you 🙂

Online coverage

Interview with Myrddyn Phillips – YouTube

The White Minibus – The Aonach Eagach Ridge – YouTube

The White Minibus – Arran Trip – YouTube

10 Comments

  1. Scott holder says:

    Looking good Bob! Congrats on your engagement. Scott

  2. duncan hale says:

    … and congratulations on your Engagement! Those outfits wouldn’t look out of place at our Fire and Ice Ball in Durham, March 2nd?
    Dunc

  3. Steve Marin says:

    A very good resume’ Bob, you have achieved a good deal to date with more to come on the mountains and especially personally! It was good to climb with you on Denali/Mt. McKinley and the odd dash up to Aviemore since. Finally, I agree with Duncan above!!
    Best wishes to both you and Sarah

  4. Ashley says:

    All the best, still watching…

  5. Brian Lenaghan says:

    Bob, you are an inspiration, and Im glad to have shared one or two munros with you, especially your very last one. I have very cherished memories of the moments when you helped me step outside my comfort zone, so thank you so much for that. Also, congratulations on your wedding, (Im getting married in 2013 as well!) I will be thinking of you as you climb Everest. I know you will give it your best as always!! 🙂

  6. Bob – All the best for your Everest Climb and congrats to you both on your engagement – Mel

  7. Kate E Smith says:

    Hi Bob I have just discovered you through reading one of Alan Arnett’s blogs and went on to read your ‘ all about me post ‘.Every year I become an armchair climber of Everest and absolutely love it and have made some very good pen pals eg Alan Hinkes (paid me a visit -wow ) Mark Horrell, Grant (Axe) Rawlinson and of course Alan Arnett to name a few. I love to follow guys who write really good blogs and take me along with them in my imagination and we sound to have one or two things in common. If I tell you I was a close friend of Ian Clough who was killed by an avalanche as he decended from Annapurna it will give my age away! Like you at the age of 17 I won a scholarship to go on an Outward Bound course at Glenmore Lodge and absolutely loved it. At 18 I went off to Leicester to train to be a PE teacher and impose my love of all things outdoor on my unsuspecting students.Anyway enough said about me. I conclude by congratulating you on your engagement (I went on to have four sporty kids and like your mum told them’ not to climb”). not much luck there when their reply was always ‘well, you did”. Finally I wish you a safe and happy time on Everest and hope you achieve your third goal I will be keeping my eye on you Cheers Kate

  8. Wish you all the best on behalf of all the mt. Cho oyu expedition 2013 team.

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