A pioneering young adventurer, Alex Staniforth (20), who has won praise from Bear Grylls and Sir Ranulph Fiennes for his feats, has been confirmed as an ambassador for YHA (England and Wales).
Described as ‘The Adversity Adventurer’ Alex joins fellow ambassador Alan Hinkes OBE as a spokesperson for the youth hostelling charity. Within the role he hopes to inspire young people and their families to get involved in the outdoors.
Alex, who was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was nine and has also had to overcome a bad stammer, credits the outdoors with helping him manage the panic attacks, anxiety, depression, low self-confidence, bullying and low self-esteem, which the conditions triggered.
The 20-year old endurance adventurer, author, charity fundraiser, athlete and motivational speaker from Cheshire made the headlines last year when he was caught in the avalanche on Mount Everest which tragically killed three of his team-mates. His experience has been documented in his recent book ‘Icefall’. Later this year he’s returning to the Himalayas to climb Cho-Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world and is using youth hostels throughout England and Wales as ‘natural training ground’ for the forthcoming challenge. Alex still has his sights set on the ‘Holy Grail’ – Everest, and hopes to conquer it in the near future.
Commenting on his new role Alex said: “I am delighted and proud to be an Ambassador for YHA. I always enjoy my stays at youth hostels. They make the outdoors accessible and I hope to inspire young people and their families to discover adventure.”
Caroline White, Chief Executive of YHA (England and Wales, welcomed Alex to his new role commenting: “Alex is an inspiration to us all. His personal accomplishments, coupled with his charitable work are an excellent fit with YHA’s mission. I hope his enthusiasm and love for adventure will encourage the many more young people and their families to experience the outdoors and the sense of achievement and personal growth it can inspire.”
Alex’s relationship with YHA began when he was 14 when he stayed in a Youth Hostel on a school trip. Since then he uses them on a regular basis, particularly YHA Snowdon Pen-y-Pass, which he uses as a base while fell running and climbing in Snowdonia National Park as part of his training for his adventures. He said: “The first time I stayed in a YHA I was amazed. I expected them to be old fashioned, however I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every Youth Hostel has its own individual charm. I like the friendliness and camaraderie. They are different to anywhere else I’ve stayed. With the more remote YHAs there is a sense of adventure and escape.”
Through pursuing his Everest ambitions Alex has raised more than £30,000 for charity and had the honour of being a London 2012 Olympic torchbearer carrying the flame through Chester. In 2013 he was also awarded the Diana Award for ‘Courageous Citizen’. His feats to date include climbing Mont Blanc aged just 17 and becoming the youngest person to complete the Three Peaks Cycle Challenge unsupported, involving 440 miles of cycling and walking the three highest UK mountains (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon) in just four days.