The World According to James Ketchell

The first British man to row the Atlantic AND climb Everest reveals the importance of a good shower gel

7 mins

Mountain/desert/jungle/ocean which are you?


First travel experience?

A trip to California when I was ten.

Favourite journey?

Across the Atlantic Ocean.

Top five places worldwide?

Nepal, Antigua, California, Thailand, India.

Special place to stay?

Camp 4 on Everest, the world’s highest camp.

Three items you always pack?

Shower Gel, iPod, toothbrush.

Passport stamp you're proudest of?

Antigua, arriving in my rowing boat, Speedo.

Passport stamp most like to have?


Guilty travel pleasure?

Eating far too much.

Window or aisle?


Who is your ideal travelling companion?

My friend Rob, who I spent a lot of time in the Himalayas with.

Best meal on the road? Worst?

Best was in Kathmandu at the Everest steak house. Lovely steak after climbing in the Himalayas. Worst would be a chicken curry I had in Delhi.

Most surprising place? Most disappointing?

Middle of the Atlantic, it was amazing. The most disappointing was a holiday to Tenerife.  It was like a tacky English beach holiday, only hotter.

Where do you NOT want to go?

There is nowhere I wouldn’t go, to be honest.

Who/what inspired you to travel? Any travel heroes?

No one really inspired me to travel I just got a bug for it from holidays I would go on with my family. Michael Palin would be a good travel hero. I think he’s been to almost every country.

What do you listen to on the road? Any song take you back to a particular time or place?

All sorts really, dance and cheesy chart music, I did listen to the Verve a lot when I rowed the Atlantic, so that brings back memories. I listened to mostly dance while climbing Everest.

What do you read ?

I read autobiographies; I think fiction is a complete waste of time. Although I know a lot of people would disagree.

Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity? Anyone who made you lose it?

The sherpas I have been fortunate enough to meet while in the Himalayas. They are wonderful people. I’ve not come across anyone that’s made me lose faith in humanity. I’ve been quite lucky.

What's the most impressive / useful phrase you know in a foreign language?

Una cerveza, por favor. One beer please.

What is your worst habit as a traveller?

Sometimes misplacing things.

Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?

I would tell jokes and tell a few stories from my past expeditions.

When and where in your travels have you been happiest?

Antigua, the feeling of knowing I just rowed across the Atlantic single handed was amazing. It also helped that the people were great.

What smell most says 'travel' to you?

Ummm the smell of drains always reminds me of my time in Bangkok. Great city! That reminds me of travelling.

Given a choice, which era would you travel in?

The 16th century when there was still plenty of places to discover and explore.

If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, what would they be?

London, New York, and Kathmandu.

ElifarAfter a serious motorcycle accident in 2007, James Ketchell was told he would never walk properly again. Out of  this frustration 'Pushing Limits' was created, a series of expeditions designed to test James' limits and raise money for the charity, the ELIFAR foundation.

James has already rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and climbed Mount Everest, in the process becoming the first British person ever to do both. Later this year he will set off on his latest expedition, a 365-day cycle journey around the world. For more information, visit his website,

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