David Love: beyond the comfort zone

DAVID LOVE is a UK adventurer, mountaineer and expedition Leader. He’s also an officer in the British Army and instructor with the Bear Grylls Survival Academy.

David Love

David Love is a UK adventurer as well as an officer in the British Army.

DAVID LOVE’S passion for the outdoors was forged at a young age in the rugged mountains of North Wales and the Scottish Highlands. Leaving school at the age of 18, and despite having no prior experience of alpine mountaineering, he made a solo unguided ascent of Mont Blanc, igniting his lifelong flame for adventure.


Before joining the British Army, David qualified as a mountain leader and expedition coordinator for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, undertaking numerous expeditions across the world, both by land and sea. He’s also travelled to some of the world’s most volatile countries, including Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Mali and other vast swathes of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.


Having now climbing extensively throughout the European Alps, David has made multiple ascents of some of the Europe’s most famous peaks including the Matterhorn, Mt Blanc and the Eiger.


In early 2017, he completed a solo traverse of the Transylvanian Alps during winter to reach the summit the highest mountain in Romania; a journey that involved constant subzero temperatures, unplanned emergency snow holes and a very close encounter with a mountain bear!


He now spends much of his time volunteering and leading young people in some of the UK’s most challenging environments with the aim of inspiring the next generation to discover their own spirit of adventure.


Here’s our interview with him…


Who or what is your biggest inspiration?


Well, I have always felt inspired by the stories of the world’s greatest explorers and adventures. In particular, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s notorious voyage to Antarctica in 1914 is probably the greatest example of human endeavor, determination and overcoming the odds. But more so, I am genuinely inspired by ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things. It shows that literally anyone can have an adventure – all you need is a ‘can do’ attitude and the confidence to take those first steps.



David on the summit of the Matterhorn.

What motivates you? 


As a schoolboy, I watched with awe as other took on exciting activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and overseas expeditions. In them, I saw a group of young role models that were remarkably confident, had succeeded against adversity and now clearly destined for great things. Everything I was lacking at the time. Above all, they had some really amazing stories to tell. I wanted to be like them!


Having now followed a similar path myself, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be a fraction of the person I am today without schemes like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. It helped me develop my adventurous spirit and taught me compassion and empathy for others, the environment and the community.  It also taught me to never give up and to keep pushing the boundaries of my own comfort zone. And of course, I now have a few exciting stories of my own to inspire the next generation of young leaders and adventurers.


David crossing a ridge in the Transylvanian Alps where he came face to face with a brown bear.

What has been your greatest adventure to date?


In 2015, I spent six months in Northern Sudan, where I undertook an overland expedition to a remote desert village at the extremities of the Sahara. The aim was to find the location of a lost Colonial-era monument that hadn’t been seen for over 60 years! Not only did I manage to find Memorial, but I was also the first person to document a series of colossal hillside images depicting old British Army cap badges, some of which were over 300 feet wide and dating back to 1851!


I also had the opportunity to experience the very best that Sudan had to offer in the process. Whether it’s the country’s diverse population, the fertile banks of the River Nile or any one of its truly spectacular UNESCO world heritage sites, Sudan has got to be one of the most amazing countries I’ve ever had the privilege to visit.


What’s been your toughest challenge?


Climbing Mont Blanc, solo, at the age of 18, and without any prior experience of mountaineering. Not only had I never been to the Alps before but, at that stage, I had only ever climbed a very small handful of peaks in the UK. Yet I was totally determined to succeed and did as much I could in preparation before I set off. When I finally sat on the summit of Mont Blanc for that very first time, completely alone, it was without doubt the toughest thing I had ever done at the time, yet also the most rewarding. However, I believe that we only truly grow when we face adversity and push the limits of our comfort zone. It’s only when the chips are down and we need overcome such challenging situations that we learn from our mistakes and really discover the most about ourselves.


What’s the most scared you’ve ever been?


During my solo winter crossing of the Transylvanian Alps earlier this year, I came face to face with an angry (possibly very hungry) brown bear and her cub at 2,300m, high up on a mountain ridge. It was a situation that I was totally unprepared for, as most bears should have been hibernating at that time of year. I was faced with either trying to test out my best defensive moves with an ice, likely having my arms ripped off in the process, or making an emergency descent down a near vertical, snow-filled gulley. In a split second, I opted for the latter, figuring that even if I slipped or caused a small avalanche, my chances of survival were still far better than going toe to toe with a Grizzly!


David Lowe

David in front of the Pyramids of Meroe Sudan.

What do you think is the most important thing in life?


Being true to yourself, fulfilling your potential and living life to the full. In the end, nobody wants a life of regrets about the things they should have done. So as the saying goes – ‘you only live once. But if you live your life to the full, once is enough!


What makes you happy?


Adventure, in any form, and exploring new places. I love the feeling of freedom when venturing into the unknown in the knowledge that I am ultimately responsible for my own success of failure. You get the most profound sense of achievement when you achieve, or even exceed, what you initial set out to do; reaffirming that we are all more than capable of facing and overcoming difficult challenges. However, even if you do happen to fail along the way, you’ll learn some very important lessons – making you far stronger and more likely to succeed the next time round.


Traditional British Fish and Chips on a Friday also makes me happy!


What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? 


“Anyone can be uncomfortable”. My father, being an ex-Royal Marine, once told me this before I joined the Army. In its most basic sense, the sentiment means ‘be prepared’, such as not forgetting your waterproofs and getting caught out by the rain, or simply failing to check the weather forecast altogether! But I often contemplate this advice in a more philosophical sense, applying it to almost every aspect of my adventures – I expect the best, but always plan for the worst. This advice has certainly got me out of trouble on more than one occasion!


David Lowe

David crossing the Transylvanian Alps.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?


That we are far more capable than we think we are. So seek out those opportunities that push the limits of your own personal comfort zone, no matter how small or insignificant you feel that might be. The more often you do this, the quicker your horizons will expand.


What tips would you give to others wanting to get into adventure? 


Approach every challenge in life with a positive, ‘can do’ attitude. If ever I begin to feel doubtful or nervous that a climb, journey or expedition seems too big to comprehend, I simply break it down into smaller manageable chunks. I plan how to complete each section, working out the problems I’m likely to face and how to deal with each one – there’s always more than one way to get round something.


Before you know it, your small collection of achievable steps would have lead you to the end of the most incredible adventure. It sounds very cliché, but it’s very true, that life isn’t about getting to the final destination, it’s about the journey to get you there that counts. So take time to pause and soak it all in, so that the memories you create will last a lifetime.


What are your plans for the future? 


In August 2017, I’m leading a small group of individuals and Duke of Edinburgh Award holders, with no prior experience of Alpine Mountaineering, to the summit of Mt Blanc. It’s a journey that changed my own life and, as a team, we want to encourage and inspire the next generation of young adventurers by demonstrating what you can achieve when you put your mind to something. We’re also hoping to raise some much needed funds and awareness for the Award – so please look us up on social media using #MtBlanc17 or by visiting www.loveadventures.co.uk/mtblanc17.



Reader Comments

Share This Article