The Lockdown Q&A – #9: Jon Gupta

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As we all continue to live with restrictions on our outdoor activities, we talk to some of the world’s best mountaineers and mountain athletes about what they are doing to stay fit and focused during the Covid crisis. Next up is mountaineer, author and Montane athlete Jon Gupta…


Where are you, and with whom, during lockdown?
I am at home in Snowdonia, North Wales. I have a little house here close to Llyn Padarn lake. I live with my lodgers Amy and Delyth.

Are you able to get out into the hills/mountains/outdoors, or are you restricted to your home and immediate vicinity?
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC), in accordance to government advice, have requested that all forms of hillwalking, mountaineering and climbing are to stop during this time for a number of reasons. In Wales, some of the national parks, including Snowdon itself, are closed with signage and potential fines too. I am still very fortunate that I can access low level countryside quite easily from my doorstep and have been enjoying some walks and some mountain biking close by.

Are you training/exercising at home, and if so, how?
To be honest, I’ve been mostly resting and giving my body a chance to recover after nearly 12 years of near constant expeditions and climbing. Generally, my exercise has been fairly limited, but I have been training on the fingerboard at home a fair amount. I have also taken up yoga in an attempt to improve my flexibility.

What are you looking forward to most when restrictions are lifted?
I am most looking forward to big committing shared adventures once again. Whether this is local on the sea cliffs at Gogarth or further afield on high altitude expeditions. I really miss the adventure and the commitment to the mountains.

Name a book and/or film you’d recommend to help keep our readers motivated/entertained during lockdown?
I have been reading two books. Firstly, ‘Annapurna’ by French climber Maurice Herzog, leader of the 1950 French Annapurna expedition, the first expedition in history to summit and return from an 8000+ metre mountain. It is amazing. Secondly, ‘Never Split the Difference’ by Chris Voss, all about negotiation. Learnt from a career as an FBI hostage negotiator, he breaks it down to how we use the techies in everyday life. Film wise, I haven’t been watching many but I have been addicted to watching ‘Honest Heist’ on Netflix!

How do you anticipate the Covid-19 situation affecting your future plans and activities, and what – if any – changes do you think you’ll need to make? 
It is undoubtedly going to change everything with how I operate in the mountains as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and worldwide Expedition Leader. In the short-term, expeditions are out of the question, and all my UK work will have to be on a 1:1/1:2 scale and somehow applying some social distancing measures. As I write this, the situation is changing daily about what we can/can’t do here in the UK. It’s going to be a challenge for all of the outdoor sector. Thankfully the vast majority of my UK work is 1:1 guiding and instructing so that should hopefully be ok… if they have anywhere to stay. Accommodation is unlikely to open until July at the earliest. Recently, I have been thinking laterally within my business and been offering an online series of High Altitude Masterclasses. These were aimed and two categories – Newbies to 5 & 6000m, and those Pushing to 7 & 8000m. They have been incredible successful and a wonderful way for me to engage with my clients during this time.

Can you supply a photo of either a) you keeping busy at home during the lockdown or b) in the mountains during happier times, and describe the image in a few words?
On the summit of the Piz Bernina having climbed the Biancograt (Switzerland). I was on a month-long van trip through the Alps in September 2019. Having spent a week rock climbing in the Dolomites, I met up with my friend Rick and for three weeks, we climbed and travelled through Switzerland in areas I had barely heard of before, let alone climbed in. We saw very few other people and enjoyed almost perfect conditions wherever we went. Pure, simple, alpinism.




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