How Did It Start?

Where it all began
Where it all began

This amazing journey in the outdoors kicked off with a parachute jump in 2003 for Asthma UK. After that terrifying but exhilarating experience the charity sent me a flyer on a bike challenge in Peru setting off in April 2004. After a lot of ‘I couldn’t do that’ a friend persuaded me that it was a great idea so I signed up and raised over £4000 for the charity, followed the training plan to the letter, thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and was hooked! I then completed 2 further cycle challenges in New Zealand and Cuba after which Discover Adventure, who had run the 3 challenges, offered me the chance to crew some cycle events in Europe. To cut a long story very short, I then led a China trek and was subsequently offered a job as Open Challenges Coordinator at their HQ near Salisbury.

At that point I was a Partnership Manager for Business Link in Milton Keynes and North Bucks, a job I enjoyed but was not passionate about. Working with local authorities, supporting local businesses in securing funding and presenting at seminars all helped me get over the ‘fear’ of speaking to large audiences and in public, something I do regularly now without trouble.

In February 2008 I moved my life down to Salisbury and worked in the Discover Adventure office along with leading a host of challenges for the next 2 years. The office job was getting very busy and the number of trips was lessening for me so I took the plunge and went freelance. The rest, as they say, is history!

I never imagined that, after leaving school to work with horses and thinking that that was going to be my life, I would ever climb Snowdon once let alone Kilimanjaro 20 times (and counting) and an 8,000m peak with Everest looming in 2015. Although I have had some very tough times since I left horses in 1993, working in retail, newspapers and electronics as well as Business Support for local government, I wouldn’t actually change any of it. Everything that I have done workwise has lead to a greater confidence and logistical understanding that has helped me greatly in my career as an Expedition Guide and Outdoor Instructor. It just goes to show that no matter what you think your path is in life, other opportunities are always out there.

I now spend my time leading groups all over the world on foot, two wheels or horseback. Big mountains and altitude are my thing and I am quite a regular on Kilimanjaro or can be found somewhere up high in Nepal or South America for a good chunk of the year. Whilst not in the land of limited oxygen, I also teach students expedition skills in the UK and have lead a number of schools expeditions in remote areas. I also instruct and assess the expedition element of the Duke of Edinburgh’s awards, which I love.

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Head to www.toughgirlchallenges.com to listen to my podcast and hear how I got started

In September 2013 I was the 3rd British woman to reach the true summit of Manaslu, the world’s 8th highest mountain at 8163m. Read my blog. Working as a guide I have led 20 expeditions (and counting) on Kilimanjaro, 10 in Nepal, 2 on Aconcagua (Blog) as well as in Peru and China to name but a few destinations. The list is growing, as is the altitude gain of my mountains and I wouldn’t change any of it! Read my blog on Mera Peak and most recently from Aconcagua

2 thoughts on “How Did It Start?”

  • I’ve been privileged to have spent a Charity evening listening to Jo tell some amazing stories of her adventures as well as disasters recently in Nepal. Here is a girl whose attitude to life is so incredibly positive and I cannot wait for her to put pen to paper and let us all share in her incredible journey. I will publish the book for you Jo!!!
    Three cheers to you Jo……an inspiration and an incredible brave lady!

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