Stuart Wilkes is every inch the adrenaline junkie/action man/extreme sports, outdoor, activity enthusiast… Gallery was on the hunt for a man to represent our ‘action’ theme and Stuart fit the bill, just right. His enthusiasm for outdoor adventure was contagious and by the end of our chat, I’d agreed to get in on the action and join Stuart and a team of scouts from 1st Bookham Scout Troup first thing on a sunny Sunday morning for a spot of abseiling…
Dangling off cliffs and hoisting himself up mountains are all in a day’s work for Stuart a.k.a C.I Joe. Risk is nothing but a consideration, pitch it up against reward and Stuart is game for anything – the bigger the risk, the better the reward.
“In terms of risk, it’s best to take the view that risk is there to be managed, not avoided… Risk VS Reward… Can do VS can’t do… I don’t care what they can’t do, I want to know what they can do.”
Having been an Army man for 12 years, beginning his military career at the age of 18, Stuart learnt all there is to know about the great outdoors. Passing on his expertise, Stuart turned his man hands to training recruits in the art of survival and action in the field. Organizing expeditions across the globe, Stuart’s mountaineering, climbing, running, racing, skiing, shooting, and general Bear Grylls action took him and his squad of trainees from North America, Canada, and the Yosemite Valley to Norway, Denmark, The Alps… France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland into Slovenia… then onto Oman and Jordan (on foot… in a week *okay, not a week, but defo on foot)
So, after cultivating the intrepid forces, Stuart moved onto fitness training which was, by all accounts a doddle as the dude is made of iron – a lean, mean climbing machine; fitness is his middle name. Fitness training led to outdoor training and here he is at the peak of his career (pardon the pun). Having scared himself ‘100 times and some’, his current role at Creepy Valley is a far cry from the forces, but the intrinsic aptitude for outdoor adventure remains the same. From tutoring the Army to encouraging people off ledges, across zip wires and up cliff faces – Stuart is a strong believer that anything is possible, all you need is will (or A will?).
Stuart is a facilitator these days, enabling all kinds of people to experience the rush that adventure precipitates… If you’re considering taking action and challenging yourself, Stuart (and Nike) says, ‘Just do it.’
Smashing time trials scaling Mont Blanc and the mighty Matterhorn give Stuart the edge when it comes to mountaineering and ski mountaineering… His favourite hobby is heli-skiing and he’s a dab hand at foraging. He’s a winner when it comes to mountain bike racing and he’s bang on target in the shooting department. Could he be any more ‘action’?! Well, yes as the one thing left, to be ticked off Stuart’s action list is Skydiving, which in his opinion is the ideal adventure – maximum adrenaline with no input. Base Jumping not long after that, he says…
Stuart’s action list:
Holds the highest uk award for rock climbing and mountaineering and also holds the uk winter mountain leader award
Chosen as chief instructor for an army alpine adventurous training centre in the bavarian alps
Ex-army company sergeant major specialised in military training and outdoor instruction
Claim to fame – once ran the 96 mile west highland way from glasgow to fort william in under 24 hours
Trained with the swiss army in avalanche and ski mountaineering skills and has worked as a volunteer ski patroller in scotland
2013 – Currently planning some heli-skiing in alaska, ice climbing in switzerland, a very quick assault on the gr20 180km long distance walking trail in corsica and a winter traverse of the cuillin ridge on the isle of skye
Likes strong coffee and jaffa cakes
For more from stuart: