10 things I have learned: Seven Summits climber James Ogilvie

James Ogilvie one

Charity climber and forester James Ogilvie reveals 10 things that he has learned while reaching the fabled Seven Summits.

It took James, of Edinburgh, 18 years to climb to the seven highest peaks on each continent. He did so to raise money for charity and also as a personal lifetime achievement.

The chartered forester is one of just 50 Brits to have completed the Seven Summits feat.

As you might expect, the amazing accomplishment taught James a thing or two about life and climbing.

Seven Summits timeline

James began climbing in 1997 when he reached the summit of the highest peak in Africa, Kilimanjaro (5,895m).

2000: He reached the top of Aconcagua, South America (6,962m)

2005: Denali, North America (6,194m)

2007: Everest, Asia (8,848m)

2008: Mt Elbrus, Europe (5,642m)

2010: Mount Kosciuszko, Australasia (2,228m) , an alternate to the higher, but far less-accessible Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia

2015: Mount Vinson, Antarctica (4,892m).

James Ogilvie three

Seven Summits: 10 things James has learned

1) People do not decide to become extraordinary: They simply decide to accomplish extraordinary things (actually a quote by Sir Edmund Hillary).

2) Don’t leave it too late. Most people regret the things they didn’t do more than the things they shouldn’t have done!

3) Mental and psychological fitness are every bit as important as physical fitness.

4) Climb mindfully. It is better to live “in” the mountain rather than “on” the mountain and enjoy each day for whatever good things it brings.

5) As climbers are usually alpha males/females with ego issues, you should try to get on with team mates. I aim to avoid conflicts where possible and withdraw to a private space when things get heated.

6) Choose a sympathetic team mate/climbing partner on whom you can rely.

7) Only worry about reaching the top on summit day. Too many people obsess about the summit before they even reach Base Camp.

8) Make the right decisions. The job is only half done when, or if, you do reach the top. I always keep in mind that while summiting is optional, dying isn’t – and the mountains will always be there.

9) Mountains belong to those that climb them, much more than to any nation.

10) Standing on top of a mountain can be a spiritual experience. It feels like you are standing close to “heaven”.

James Ogilvie two

Climbing for charity

James, who works for the Forestry Commission, raises money for Tree Aid, which since 1987, has played a key role in the reforestation of parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In total, the charity has helped more than 500,000 people plant 10 million trees in the drylands of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, as well as isolated areas of Ethiopia.

Tree Aid’s work helps poor and vulnerable communities become self-reliant by using the potential of trees to reverse environmental decline.

When setting out to climb his final Seventh Summit, James wanted to raise the same money in pounds as the height of the mountain. He has raised £5,180, passing the £4892 target. See Just Giving James 7 Summits.

See James at Peebles Outdoor Film Festival

You can hear James talking about his final summit of Mount Vinson at this month’s Peebles Outdoor Film Festival, 22 to 24 January, 2016.

Other guests include:

  • Cycling adventurer Mark Beaumont
  • Elite Scottish mountain bike rider Lee Craigie
  • The Tweed Valley’s own rising star of world enduro racing, Katy Winton.
  • National Geo Wild TV presenter, explorer and conservationist Niall McCann
  • Glasgow-based ultra-runner Elspeth Luke
  • Stu Thomson from award-winning production company Cut Media, among many others.

In addition, there will be films, workshops and competitions. Find out more and buy tickets at Peebles Outdoor Film Festival.



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