Jason Rawles : three minute interview

Jason Rawles lives in North Wales and has his own mountaineering adventure company. His ethos is to deliver outstanding outdoor adventure experiences while promoting safety, education and fun. Above all he says he’s in the business of making memories.

How does it feel to have been chosen as a #GetOutside Champion?

It’s a big responsibility yet amazing all the same. OS is such a well-respected brand, having such a positive impact on the outdoors, that to be associated is a privilege and one that we should take very seriously.

What does being a #GetOutside champion mean to you?

What feels really great is that it recognises how what I do and love is seen by others as inspirational. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that someone has done something new and amazing based on something you’ve done!

What are the benefits to you of being outside?

Health, focus, head space, and enjoying what’s on our doorstep. I also like the sense of community and togetherness. Outdoors people tend to be humble and very willing to assist. From a business perspective I love research and planning adventures, right down to exploring the myths and legends of an area.

How do you now plan to inspire others?

I was never the fastest runner or the highest climber. There’s a big difference in the things people are wowed by and things they’re inspired by. Seeing photos of athletes doing extreme things could really put people off. They get wowed but not inspired. I want to open adventure up to the masses and get people to think “Actually, I CAN do that.”

What do you most enjoy about being outside?

The people you meet, the things you see, the sense of satisfaction. It’s very social. And you usually burn enough calories to be able to treat yourself to a coffee and cake afterwards.

What’s your favourite terrain to get out in? (Mountain / coast / woodland etc)

I like the mountains. I’ve been up Snowdon a hundred times and there’s always different weather, different clouds and different people every time I go. I’ve extracted a huge amount of joy from the mountains and I’ve loved to see other people’s joy: Joy which they will then pass on to other people.

What’s your best memory of being outside?

Far too many! Recently New Year’s Day on Snowdon, summiting at around 6am so I left my house at 3am. I met some lovely people, saw a beautiful sunrise, and effectively ‘saw in’ 2016 in the way I want the rest of it to be. Outside…with amazing people. That’s the common thread which runs through my outdoor adventures: People, achievement, and the memories afterwards.

What’s your worst?

I don’t think there are any! I can extract something positive even from a negative situation. I’ve left kit behind, made mistakes etc. but made sure it doesn’t happen again!

What’s the most unusual thing to have happened to you outside?

Possibly not unusual in retrospect but felt weird at the time: I was out in the mountains of South Wales a good few years ago looking to impress a girl. I knew bad weather was coming in but we were kitted out. It was snowy and windy and as we hit the summit it literally went white out. Professing to ‘know this mountain like the back of my hand’ we strolled off, only to do a U turn and end up back at the summit. I tried to blag my way out of it by saying that I’d left my flask behind, only to then walk off, and end up back at the summit!!! I then got the map and compass out, took a bearing, and we walked off safely….with my nose in the map and my tail between my legs. She didn’t see me again!! Think of this story as not just map skills but relationship advice ;)

What do you like about Great Britain?

The adventurous diversity of its outside offerings. It’s AWESOME! In one day you can kayak on a river, paddle board in the sea, wakeboard on a lake, climb a mountain, walk in a forest, go paragliding, and light a fire on a beach. From top to bottom, to left to right, there’s an adventure to be had.

Where is your favourite place in Great Britain to be outside?

North Wales, where I live. I like its culture but it’s also a beautiful place. I moved here from just outside London to be near so much amazing outside stuff.

What are your favourite outdoor pursuits?

Mountaineering definitely. I love the feeling of hand on rock. You can make a complete day of it, plus it can be as hard or easy as you like. But that said …. also just a really nice walk is good too! Anything really that gets me outside.

How would you describe the feeling being outside gives you?

Confident, complete, part of a bigger community. When I’m outside it’s like nothing else matters other than being there, in the moment, absorbed in the beauty of nature.

When you’re outside – how do you change as a person?

It’s wonderfully focusing but also liberating. Hard to explain as it’s a feeling…you’re in the moment, you’ve planned and now you’re getting on with things, it’s satisfying, it clears the head out. It’s engaging, people are always happy. You can’t help but change..but the trick is…do it often ;)

Why should people #GetOutside more often?

It’s great for your headspace, there are health benefits, you can support your country and its economy, it’s fun and there’s the excitement of stretching your own capabilities. I think it can change a person.

What would you say to someone who never goes outside to get them outside?

Take one hour and go for a walk by a lake or in a forest. It’s 0.59% of your week…what’s the worst that could happen? When you like it, do it again the following week…then again, then again! People need to find their own reasons to engage with the outdoors. It’s a personal thing.

Why as a nation are we not getting outside as much as we could?

Access to information is critical. For example, knowing where to park, what the cost of parking is, how to start the walk, kit that’s needed etc. Hopefully over the year as a Champion we’ll help get access to more information to start making the process to #GetOutside easier.

What are the most important things a person should do or take when they #GetOutside?

Plan correctly, know what’s to be done, know that it’s within your capability, and carry kit accordingly. Know the impact of weather…such as, when it’s sunny, you’ll need suncream and more water, in winter you’ll need warm kit etc.

What tips or pieces of advice would give to someone who wants to get more out of being outside?

Start small….but get started. Head to a National Trust place and walk around a lake. Get used to map principles, join a club, invite pals to an event outside. But, do something.

Before you became a #GetOutside Champion, describe your relationship with Ordnance Survey.

OS has always been a part of what I do as a mountain leader. Maps and a compass have been a foundation of keeping safe. However, as I got older I started to see exactly how far OS reaches in terms of how mapping impacts everyday life.

What music do you listen to when you get outside / does music inspire you?

For the most part I won’t listen to music. I’ve been outside before when people have shouted for help, and needed help, and I’d be mortified to know afterwards that I didn’t hear and could have done something. Plus, you miss some of the beauty of bird song…. lapping waves of mountain lakes…. wind rushing through the summits….

What are your backpack essentials?

Map, compass, correct kit for the weather, enough food and water, whistle, blizzard bag, small head touch, ‘ouch pouch’ (first aid stuff!), waterproof bag for phone.

What’s your favourite food when you are outside?

Jaffa Cakes!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Being a #GetOutside Champion is ultimately everything I gave up my previous life to do. I was in sales but I realised it conflicted with my core values. I had the nice car and the nice house, but these weren’t making me happy. I wanted to quit everything and push my reset button. And now I couldn’t be happier.

For more information, log on to Jason’s website jrmountaineering.com

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