From The Ocean To Mountain Peaks – Q&A With The Tempest Two

Two years ago, James Whittle and Tom Caulfield were ordinary men, working 9-5 jobs, training to keep in shape and enjoying socializing at the weekend. One day, they jokingly said to each other that they should do something meaningful and challenging, something to break up the daily grind. This seed grew into the idea of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean unaided. Having never rowed a day in their lives, the challenge wasn’t just about surviving the journey, it was about learning a whole new discipline from scratch.  3,000 miles and 54 days later the pair had completed something extraordinary, unleashing a lust for adventure with a different perspective of life.

We sat down with James and Tom from the Tempest Two to learn more about what drew them to move from the ocean to climbing some of the worlds highest peaks.


Q. What inspires you to tackle these big challenges that people have spent years dreaming about?

A. When we arrived back from our Atlantic row, there was something missing. We now crave big adventures and challenges. The feeling of working hard, and achieving big goals is pretty addictive.


Q. Who in the adventure world inspires you to take on these challenges?

A. We are big fans of those people who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. The likes of Tommy Caldwell (climber) and Henry Worsley (explorer) who sadly died earlier this year, pursuing one of his dream adventures.


Q. What drew you to mountaineering? It wasn’t a natural progression from rowing across the Atlantic?

A. The world is dominated by the depths of the oceans, and the peaks of mountains. For us, mountains always had a huge appeal, and we were naturally drawn to take one on.


Q. Why Mont Blanc?

A. Mont Blanc is a great entry into the world of mountaineering. The peak is 4,810M and the climb itself is not overly technical, so climbing experience is not a must. It could be the springboard for more mountaineering in the future.


Q. Mont Blanc has claimed more lives than any other peak in the world, did this worry you?

A. Risk is often a bi-product of adventure, so you have to be aware and accepting of that. In the case of Mont Blanc, many deaths happen via avalanche or rockfall, so we planned accordingly to as prepared as we could. We climbed on the last day of the season, so the weather was slightly colder for us, which firmed up the snow and rock, which was reassuring for us during the climb.


Q. Did you sit down with anyone before the climb to understand what it entailed to allow you to prepare?

A. We spoke to a couple of locals in Chamonix regarding the best route options, and the weather conditions. Apart from that we simply read a number of blogs about Mont Blanc, which helped build a picture of what to expect.


Q. What was your preparation plan once you had the time and date approved for the challenge?

A. As we had zero climbing experience, all we could do is get as fit and strong as possible before we left for Chamonix. We did plenty of cardio and gym work, as well as hitting the bouldering wall on a regular basis to get a basic grasp of climbing.


Q. Did you change your diet in the run up to the climb?

A. In a word, no! We didn’t want to be too heavy for the climb, so we made sure to keep eating sensibly, and kept the cardio to a max to keep our body fat low. In the immediate hours before the climb, the diet was high carb – lots of pasta and porridge to keep us fuelled for the long days.


Q. How do you both work as a team, do ye bounce off each other and build motivation? 

A. We definitely give each other an extra 10%. Knowing that your mate is going through the same thing as you, and you are responsible for making it up to the top as well, gives an extra boost when things get tough. We are pretty light-hearted, and manage to find the funny side in almost every situation which helps keep morale high.


Q. Did you use any apps to help with training or climbing?

A. We both track our exercise via a fitness band called Reign, made by Jaybird. We also use Wahoo fitness to keep track of our bike rides and runs which is a great tool to have. Other than that, social apps are pretty important for us, so we can document our adventures in real-time, giving people a good insight into what its like to take on some of these trips.



Stay tuned for part 2 of our Q&A with The Tempest Two where we discuss the challenges of the climb.


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Alan Lund

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