Kathmandu ambassador Tim Jarvis is an environmental explorer and adventurer. He uses his world-first expeditions to share stories about environmental causes and help people to take action. A WWF-Australia Global Ambassador, Tim was awarded 2016 Conservationist of the Year by Australian Geographic for his 25zero project.
How did you first come to love the outdoors?
I remember when I first had an experience in the outdoors that made me sit up and take notice. I was 12 and I got lost in bush in Malaysia with four other kids. There was a bit of panic setting in and I remembered that I carried a compass in my backpack and I got it out and thought, ‘If we head east from here, we should get out of the jungle, reach the coast and maybe find our way back to this place where we were staying.’ And that’s what happened.
At the end of it, I was kind of scared and so was everyone else. But I got back and thought, ‘If you follow basic principles and you trust your gut, you can get yourself out of tricky situations.’ That began a feeling of being empowered in the outdoors that’s kind of continued ever since.
How did this lead to becoming an advocate for the environment?
My love of nature was really the first thing that got me into the outdoors. When I spent time out there, I realised the importance of protecting it and that led to my career in the environmental sciences. Things have kind of gone full circle because now I use my expeditions around the world to try and highlight environmentalism in leadership.
What are some of your best moments of adventure?
I’ve been doing expeditions for as long as I can remember. South and North Poles, across many deserts, mountains. In recent years, I’ve attempted journeys done the old way - the same way the Heroic Era polar explorers would have done them, using 100-year-old technology and old cotton smocks, retracing the journeys of Sir Douglas Mawson and Sir Ernest Shackleton.
I think the best feeling I had was turning up at the South Pole after 47 days unsupported. There was a scientist working at the south pole, not expecting anyone to turn up in the direction I’d come from and I crept up behind him and put my hand on his shoulder. And that was a moment.
25zero is a major project to highlight the real impacts of climate change, by climbing all the mountains around the equator that still have a glacier. There are 25 of those and they’re at zero degrees latitude. In a quarter of a century they’ll be gone due to climate change.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability is a big question these days. Some of the issues we’re faced with - like climate change and biodiversity loss due to the expansion of cities and agriculture - are getting to the scale now where we’ve reached a tipping point. We're destroying nature faster than ever before. And yet the flipside is that politicians and people in positions of power are now judged increasingly on a very short media cycle. So you’ve got big, intractable problems on one hand, that certainly take more than one term as a Prime Minister to sort out, yet you’re being judged on what you said 10 minutes ago.
What advice do give to people who want to make a difference?
The advice that I give to people is that they need to be the change that they want to see.I’m not trying to paraphrase Gandhi when I say that but I think too many people are waiting for someone else to save us all from climate change. It will come down to individuals and organisations to be the change agents. So I always say: Be that organisation. Be that individual.
You’re also a patron of Nature Play SA, which encourages kids to get outdoors. Why is this important to you?
It’s important for kids to develop an understanding of the world around them and their place in it by getting out there and finding things out for themselves. It’s also critically important that our children grow up being exposed to nature so they develop an empathy for it and see the value in its protection. We do not inherit the world from our parents, we borrow it from our children, and our role now is to help those children develop a bond with it for the benefit of us all.
How do you see your work fitting in with the Kathmandu brand?
I think the Kathmandu brand is about attitude. It’s about getting out there, travelling, doing it responsibly, expanding your horizons and discovering new things for yourself. It’s also about making a contribution, it’s about really standing up and making a difference and I think Kathmandu are doing that with the way they produce their clothing to ensure it’s sustainably driven.
The strength of the brand for me is about practicing what you preach. It’s about going out there and experiencing things for yourself but also making a contribution to the world we want to see.
I think together we can do some really wonderful things.
Gear guide: Tim Jarvis Talks Kathmandu XT series
I’ve very excited by Kathmandu’s XT range. It’s extreme gear for extreme situations and that’s what I need for the places I go to. I’ve used it a lot for my 25zero project where you’re going all the way from tropical heat and humidity at sea level, with temperatures 25-30 degrees above the dial, up to 6,310 metres above sea level in places like Mt Chimborazo in Ecuador, where it can reach minus 25 or 30 degrees at the other end of the scale.
The XT has proven to be a very good partner for that variability. I’m very excited to be able to offer feedback to be able to further develop that gear.