Meet Our Latest Brand Ambassadors
11 December 2017
2017 has definitely been our most adventurous year yet.
We partnered with a trio of adventurers who trekked solo and unassisted across the Gobi Desert and we were also kit sponsors of Mark Beaumont’s incredible record-smashing 80 Days Around the World cycle challenge. We’re obviously an outdoorsy bunch ourselves and have also ramped up our in-house product testing programme as well.
2018 is going to be a huge year for Highlander in a number of ways (watch this space for details) and as part of that we’re looking to build a team of brand ambassadors who we feel are really in tune with what Highlander are all about…positivity, adventure and inspiring everyone to explore their world.
On that note, we’re really excited to introduce you to one (or two) of our first Highlander Ambassadors, Luke & Elise Richmond of OLOC Adventures in Thailand.
These guys were not only part of the team that trekked across the Gobi desert but they also manage to make us jealous of their fitness regime and adventures on an almost daily basis so we genuinely couldn’t think of a better duo to hook up with!
We caught up with them to find out what inspires their ‘One Life One Chance’ lifestyle and what they have in store for 2018…
What does it mean to you to be one of five first official Highlander Ambassadors?
Luke: I am totally pumped to become an ambassador in the beginning is an amazing honour, especially with a company like Highlander. I can’t wait to help the continued growth of the company through our adventures and testing out some of the new and very impressive pieces of kit.
Elise: It’s really exciting to be jumping on board with a company that I’ve really tried a tested in expeditions. The company seems to be ever evolving which is something I feel perfectly suits my personality and the way I have chosen to live. A constant state of evolution.
What and who inspire you to live the lifestyle you do?
Luke: My parents were big travellers throughout my childhood so I learnt what life on the road was all about. They were my early inspiration to keep exploring and to never conform to a status quo way of life. Today I still gain inspiration from the greats, Shackleton, Hillary and Mallory and from current epic explorers like Mike Horn. What inspires me most however is the world and the adventures themselves, the more I explore the more I get to see of this incredible planet of ours. No matter how much I suffer she keeps me coming back for more.
Elise: I have always been a restless soul, always on the move. When people tell me to stop it only inspires me more to keep going, to continue exploring and to see as much of this marvellous world as I can. Luke has been a huge encouragement for this as well. His own personal slogan of OLOC – One Life One Chance is something I’ve injected into every day since I met him. In that sense I don’t want to waste a single second and having Luke around me almost guarantees I won’t.
What do you enjoy most about the outdoor life?
Luke: I enjoy the mental challenges the outdoors put me through. The physical side of hiking, climbing and mountaineering I can train for but the mental stuff only comes with experience. An adventure can bury you in a rabbit hole of negativity or raise you up to levels of euphoria never felt before and I love that side of exploring, discovering where your limits are. I have a mantra I use every morning while on big trips: Be grateful, you deserve this, thank you for allowing me to suffer.
Elise: Being outdoors forces me to be present and in the moment. When I’m out on expeditions it’s the one time when all that matters is the here and now, the next step, the next meal, the next place of shelter. Tomorrow doesn’t exist yet, and may not if you don’t get today right. I love that about being way out in the outdoors. It makes me feel more human than I do in cities.
What is your favourite piece of Highlander gear that you never adventure without?
Luke: Your Stow & Go rain/windbreaker is a perfect piece of kit for me. Lightweight and effective and something I can carry with me on a quick climb or a multi-day expedition. A second one also lives inside my scooter for when the heavens open up.
Elise: Your Fast Boil is too convenient to look past. After a huge day stomping around in cold weather it can be an absolute life saver when you don’t have to think about making a fire to get a warm cup of tea into you.
Where is the best place you’ve camped?
Luke: My favourite place is at high camp on the ridge of Vinson Massif in Antarctica. The last camp before the summit attempt is perched on a ledge with a magnificent view of the white continent thousands of feet below. On a clear morning I could sit in my tent drinking a brew, looking out at the untouched beauty of the ice and trace the deep blue cracks of crevasses running all over it like the wrinkles on an old explorers face.
Elise: In the middle of the Gobi desert, we stopped near a river we’d found for the night and as the sun set a heard of horses came to the water to drink. There was absolutely no one around, total silence and the sky was crystal clear from horizon to horizon and as night fell all you could see was stars.
Do you have favourite, must-cook campfire grub?
Luke: When I was growing up and going on camping trips with mum and dad my favourite meal was fresh cooked damper (Aussie soda bread) in the coals, smothered in butter and with a steaming vegetable stew to dip it in. These days with weight restrictions and dehydrated technology my go-to meals are Pad Thai and Chicken Korma. Instant morale boost!
Elise: You can’t go wrong with Maggi noodles! If the situation allows and you can get your hands on some bread, salami and eggs then you’re in for a great feast!
Any epic camp stories you can share?
Luke: After a particular horrific day climbing on Denali in Alaska, we retreated to our tent in whiteout conditions freezing and defeated. My climbing buddy handed me a hot cup of water, after not drinking for many hours, and it was the single greatest thing I had ever tasted. The cloud of defeat lifted and we started to giggle like school kids who had gotten away with something. In reality we were grown adults who had just escaped from the clutches of death.
Elise: One night just as we were making camp after a 40km day in the Gobi a car pulled up and out jumped a nomad family with their old grandmother in tow. She spread out a rug, placed out a hot bucket of freshly barbequed goat, some tea and said, “eat.” It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten and she force fed us until it was all gone! I will never forget those strangers!
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Luke: The Himalayas in Nepal is somewhere I am continually drawn back to and is a place that even with ten lifetimes worth of adventure it could never be fully explored. I believe it is a must see for everybody, the mountains are so enormous and the altitude so crippling it’s impossible to leave there un-humbled.
Elise: The South Island in New Zealand just takes my breath away. Its features are magnificent and it still feels like a hidden secret that people don’t know about. I consider it the ultimate adult playground for adventure lovers.
What cool projects have you guys got coming up to make us even more jealous?
Luke: We have so much on our bucket list at the moment and we just keep adding more and more every year!
In January 2018 we’re off to Tasmania on a base jumping trip. The plan is to climb Frenchmans Cap and then take the easy way down by ‘chute.
Later next year we’re off back to Nepal to climb the majestic Ama Dablam and then BASE jump it back down again. Climbing this beast will be the culmination of a bit of a dream, it’s been in my sights for a long time now, so much so that I put it on the OLOC logo.
The big trip for 2019 will be to paddle the full length of the Amazon River from source to sea. There still a lot of planning to go into that one but that’s going to be some trip!
Elise: Same for me but Luke can have the amazon to himself!!
To find out more about OLOC, check out the website www.OLOCAdventures.com
As if they didn’t have enough going on, Luke has written his first book, 'One Life Once Chance', which will be out in March 2018 and Elise has just launched her new fitness website www.eliseroserichmond.com. They both also run the Soi Sauce podcast (subscribe via iTunes).