When he’s not pointing a lens at wildlife, the BAFTA-winning television presenter is an all-round outdoor adventurer, with qualifications in kayaking, climbing, SCUBA diving and mountaineering.
Presenter of CBBC’s Deadly series, Steve Backshall seems drawn to danger and adventure. His first love is climbing and mountaineering, a passion that has taken him to the world’s sixth highest peak, Cho Oyu in the Himalayas at 8,201m. His time on the rock face has been far from smooth, including a fall in Wales which left him with a broken back and a crushed foot. It’s all a far cry from the fake tan and glitter of last year’s Strictly Come Dancing…
1) I have been climbing since my late teens at University. I have never been that good, but I do have a massive attraction to the mountains, whether it’s for rock climbing, ice climbing, deep water soloing, hiking or mountaineering. It’s the allure of a high place, the majesty of the views, and of course the wildlife.
I truly treasure all the amazing places we have to climb in this country – my favourite local area is near Swanage in Dorset, with the Jurassic Coast on your doorstep, but I also love Cornwall and the West Coast of Scotland. My favourite climb ever would be Mount Asgard on Baffin Island.
It’s the most majestic wall of rock; 2km of vertical granite and it just takes your breath away. It took 27 hours of non-stop climbing, we reached the top at 1am (it’s so far north it’s light through the night), and every single second was breathtaking.
2) After my injury it was the classic thing of having to conquer my fears because otherwise I knew I would never get back on the rock. I was back climbing before I could walk properly, but I am still not back where I was and I never will be. In climbing you are operating at the limits of your psychology more than your physicality, and I will never get back to my old limits. The last crucial bit of nerve I will never get back.
3) I think exploration and the desire for discovery really sets us apart as humans. We live in an age where the majority of discoveries are at the end of a microscope, but last year alone there were 1,400 new species described from the marine world and there are millions of invertebrates to discover in the jungle and some vertebrates too.
4) I am totally the wrong shape for climbing. Before an expedition I have to diet hard and change my training routine so it’s based on strength to body weight, with lots of hangs on the finger board, weighted pull-ups, weighted dips … I get away from my normal weights programme. And I spend lots of hours in my kayak or on the bike trying to shift weight.
5) My luxury on an expedition would be music also an MP3. I listen to a lot of podcasts, both science and comedy, plus dance to get my cadence going when I’m climbing, and slow, mellow music when I’m trying to sleep in my tent.