UKC

Mountain Air


Overview

Mountain Air is a podcast about outdoor people. In this series, produced especially for UKHillwalking, Dan Aspel talks with a range of fascinating interviewees, from unlikely adventurers and high achieving enthusiasts, to dedicated professionals in the outdoor industry. Each episode focuses on a different individual with a unique tale to tell. They all have one thing in common: a love of places high, wild, and free.

2. Zac Poulton, the Fell Top Assessor

Zac Poulton is one of the Lake District's three "Fell Top Assessors". This means that today, yesterday, tomorrow and every day of the winter season, there's a 33 per cent chance that he's walking to the summit of one of England's highest peaks. The resulting pictures and written reports provide an invaluable resource for hillwalkers, climbers and anyone else venturing out onto the wintery fells. Winning this kind of role means you're about as dependable on the hill as human beings get.

Zac Poulton at the South Pole  © Zac Poulton collection
Zac Poulton at the South Pole
© Zac Poulton collection

Keep saying yes, and keep doing a good job, and the doors will keep opening

But that's only a fraction of the story. Because the more you ask Zac about his career in the outdoors, the more amazing the tales become. He spent a month in Greenland helping to film base jumping barnacle geese chicks. He's dangled down Alum Pot testing 5G broadcast equipment, he's lived in vans in Scotland, ditches in the Alps, safety managed Kilian Jornet in Glen Coe, solo climbed Ama Dablam, guided tens of people to the summit of Everest, explored parts of Antarctica, lectured University students, and hallucinated on Wainwright's Coast-to-Coast.

… And all of this whilst overcoming a fear of heights. If you've ever considered a career in the outdoors and are wondering where such a move could take you, Zac's story could be exactly what you need to hear.

On top of Mount Vinson, Antarctica  © Zac Poulton collection
On top of Mount Vinson, Antarctica
© Zac Poulton collection

All this, and much more, in Mountain Air, episode 2:

Podcast timestamps

00:00 – Introduction

02:58 – Fell top assessing, safety work, high altitude guiding

04:52 – Recent activities: film safety, 5G testing and live broadcasts, Alum Pot

10:47 – Base jumping barnacle geese chicks in Greenland

16:20 – "… they get focused on what's going on through the camera and forget about the polar bear that's stalking them from behind…"

18:26 – The last 10 years: commercial guiding on big peaks, Scotland, life in a van, lecturing, training film crews

22:46 – "Keep saying yes, and keep doing a good job, and the doors will keep opening"

24:24 - Alpine memories: "living in a ditch in a field until the money ran out then hitching home again", inspired by a being a Scout and reading mountaineering literature "even before I could read"

27:38 – Overcoming a fear of heights, and why it's key to being an effective guide

36:50 – The pressure of expedition guiding, and learning to decompress afterwards, "I like to think that if they're complaining about the food, then things are going well"

40:00 – Safety for mountain running events, Glen Coe Skyline with Kilian Jornet, personal running experience

45:40 – "I maybe slept for four hours or so… the hallucinations were quite good"

47:12 – Guiding on Everest, "It's hurting, but I've got a job to do, and these people are probably hurting more. I need to support them", 45-minutes alone on the summit "not a soul in sight, and looking at the view"

56:20 – Life as a Fell Top Assessor… and "informal, 20-minute crampon sessions"

62:00 – "Parenthood is another of those amazing experiences, so 'yes' to that as well!"

63:00 – Greatest Mountain Memory: solo climb of Ama Dablam "so much of my work is with clients, which I love, but just to be out there by myself, able to move at my own pace and enjoy that environment…"

67:20 – All the time, money, freedom, where do you go? The Antarctic coastline, or explorations of Baffin Island and the Arctic territories

Fell top assessing on Helvellyn  © Zac Poulton collection
Fell top assessing on Helvellyn
© Zac Poulton collection

To find out what it's like on the top of Helvellyn today see lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk

Read more about Zac Poulton here: www.mtnsafety.co.uk

Follow Zac on Twitter @MTN_Safety

In the office, on the edges of Helvellyn  © Zac Poulton collection
In the office, on the edges of Helvellyn
© Zac Poulton collection


Mountain Air

The Mountain Air podcast is made, recorded, hosted, edited, released and occasionally sworn at by Dan Aspel (he didn't, however, do the theme tune). Dan has teamed up with UKHillwalking to produce a new series, his second, and we'll be publishing regular episodes over the next few months. You can listen to the ten episodes of his first series here:

Website: mountainairpodcast.uk

Instagram: @mountainairpodcast

Twitter: @MtnAirPod

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