July 19, 2021
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Simon Yates

Mountaineer

2001 Polartec Challenge Grant Recipient

This is the first post in a blog series dedicated to catching up with past recipients of the Polartec Challenge Grants. Read the series introduction post.

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Simon Yates has lived in England’s Lake District — the mountainous area in the northwestern part of the country known for having the largest mountains in the region — for the last 28 years. His time spent exploring its cracks and crevices has fed a love of the outdoors and climbing that has proven a lifelong pursuit and storied career for the accomplished mountaineer.

For 35 years and counting, Simon’s explorations have taken him all over the world. He's climbed and sailed as far west as Alaska, as far east as New Zealand, and he's nearly spanned the globe latitudinally from Greenland to the Antarctic. He is a veteran of over 70 mountaineering expeditions to remote mountain ranges on nearly every continent.

Yates reflects that fate has always played a major part in his career as an explorer. "One chance meeting with one person seems to run into a chance meeting with something else," he says. "I'm about to feel really, really fortunate because I've met so many through all these different webs of people through climbers. And then I sort of jumped into this into a sort of an adventurous bit of the yachting world. The act of finding things and making these discoveries is serendipity."

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A 2001 recipient of the Polartec Challenge Grant, Yates has climbed some of the most remote and rarely explored mountain ranges of the world. He's one of only a handful of people to have climbed the 6,096m Laila Peak in Pakistan, and he was part of the first British ascent of the Khan Tengri in Kazakhstan, a massive snow and ice pyramid.

“What I do is I try and climb. I'm most interested in climbing mountains that haven't been done before,” says Yates, who is credited with the first ascents of Monte Ada and Monte Iorana in Tierra del Fuego.

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"I was a very grateful beneficiary of a Polartec Challenge grant back in 2001, which was used to take the first of many yacht/mountaineering trips to the Cordillera Darwin in Tierra del Fuego," he recounts. "It literally started a whole new direction to my mountaineering and indeed other parts of my life, which continue to this day." To date, he has made 10 climbing and sailing trips to the region.

It was that first trip in 2001 that solidified his propensity towards remote mountain wilderness areas — a preference that the three-time book author still holds today.

"I like being in places where there’s nobody now. That suits me."

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While he still enjoys mountaineering, when he isn't planning a trip — either a planned personal trip or a guided trip as part of his expedition company, Mountain Dream — Yates enjoys sharing stories about his adventures in theaters throughout his home country of the United Kingdom.

Regardless of where his adventures take him, Yates still relies on fabrics made by Polartec to help support his wanderlust. "As someone who uses high-performance outdoor clothing, I wear garments made from (Polartec) on an almost daily basis and have done for nearly the last 30 years I'd guess," says Yates. "It's a very good, relevant product."

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