Q&A session with mountaineering hot shot George Atkinson

You are 17 years old and list conquering Everest, Antarctica and Kilimanjaro as some of your achievements…what next for George Atkinson?

SMco:  If you could be taken back to any part of your Everest expedition, which would it be?

GA:  “I think that I would want to be taken back to the summit day. The reason for this was it was a truly challenging day which was very enjoyable, it was of course difficult and frightening at times but it was exhilarating climbing to the highest point on the planet . . . and I can remember sitting down on the summit looking down all around thinking about where I was.”

SMco:  You are the world record holder for the youngest person to complete the Severn Summits Challenge, what do you think has driven you to succeed at this where others haven’t?  

GA:  “I think the main thing that has motivated me all these years is the fact that this was such a great challenge that I felt was worthwhile doing.  There were times where I didn’t want to do my training or I wanted to give up because of boredom or cold but I just felt that this was part of the challenge, I’ve never been so pushed as I have been with the seven summits and it’s good to see my new found limits.

George Atkinson on Vinson summit

SMco:  What was your least favorite food whilst on the Everest expedition?

GA:  “The food which I disliked the most were these packs of freeze dried porridge that we got for breakfast when we were above Advanced Base Camp.  The food never really tasted like proper food and was a horrible taste and texture.”

SMco:  Is there a song or any music which reminds you of your Everest expedition? 

GA:  “I think “Try a little harder” by the Rolling Stones really reminds me of Everest because the line “try a little harder” represents the minds set you need to climb Everest.”

SMco:  What did you drift off to sleep thinking on your last camp sleep before ascending Everest ? 

GA:  “The last camp I was in on Everest I didn’t sleep at all because we were advised not to but I slept in the camp before that, I think that I was just thinking about what lay ahead and about what the summit push would be like. I don’t think I was scared, I was excited to finally have the chance to climb the mountain after two weeks at base camp. I just thought about what it would be like to summit and to come back home having completely my 6 year journey.” 

SMco:  What do you do next after conquering the world’s highest summits on all 7 continents? 

GA:  “It’s true that I’ve definitely reached very high so far in my life and that some people do say to me that surely I’ve done everything already, this is not true, I definitely can’t reach anything higher but there are more difficult mountains to do and there are mountains which are very different challenges and I want to spend the rest of my life continuing to challenge myself in this way and in others. There will never be a shortage of things for me to do next.” 

George Atkinson on Everest summit

SMco:  Who is your idol and why? 

GA:  “I suppose the person who I would idealise the most is a man called David Stirling. He was a mountaineer and British Army officer during world War 2. He was the man who founded the special air service and I’ve heard his stories about how he started the SAS and the hardships that they had to endure and I think it’s truly inspiring.”

SMco:  We hear you are learning to drive, what’s your dream vehicle? 

GA: “A vehicle which has 4 wheel drive and has a boot which is big enough to sleep in so that when I go climbing for just a weekend I can sleep in the car instead of camping or booking a hotel room.”

SMco:  If you were prime minister for the day what new law would you introduce? 

GA:  “I would try to introduce a law stating that schools must have some sort of outdoor program because although not everyone would enjoying climbing I think that any outdoor activity that students do can greatly improve confidence and their enjoyment of life.”


Follow George’s blog here