The speaker line-up for the very first FEAT event in Jo’burg on Thursday, 1 October 2010 was as follows:
|Alex Harris has been climbing mountains for two decades, leading more than 20 expeditions. In 1996, at the age of 25, Alex resigned from a career in sales to follow his passion for exploration. Within months he led his first expedition to Mount Everest. He has climbed the Seven Summits, leading expeditions to both the North and South sides of the mountain. He is also a multiple South African Track Cycling Champion; and in 2006 Alex won silver at the World Masters Track Cycling Championships. In January 2008, Alex became the first South African to walk unsupported to the South Pole, a journey that took 65 days and covered almost 1200km. And he still has all his toes! Alex has made adventuring his career. www.alexharris.co.za|
|Andrew Kellett, one of Africa’s top exploration and freestyle paddlers, owns the rafting company, Gravity Adventures, which he runs with Marie-Louise, his wife. His rafting and geckoing trips on rivers around Cape Town, sea kayaking trips at Langebaan and rafting trips on the Orange River in the Northern Cape, haves set new standards for the rafting industry. Gravity Training, focuses on training river guides and teaching wannabe kayakers. Able to operate under extreme conditions, Andrew has notched numerous first descents and death-defying waterfall drops. www.gravity.co.za|
|Cobus van Zyl
Adventure racer /
|For the past 10 years Cobus’ strengths have been in hiking, technical mountain running, rope work and navigation. His adventure racing highlights include the multi-day, 750km expedition race, Primal Quest (Utah) and Greenland’s Arctic Team Challenge. Ice climbing in the Alps too is a passion; he spent two weeks there in July/Aug 2010. In early 2010 Cobus, with Ryno Griesel, set a new record of 60 hours and 30 minutes for the Drakensberg Grand Traverse. When not adventuring, Cobus is a systems engineer, working on the Rooivalk Attack Helicopter’s weapons.|
|Darron Raw is a Swazi, living in what he calls, Africa’s adventure playground. Having studied in Maritzburg, his early interests in kayaking and white-water rafting led him to pioneer an adventure business in Swaziland at the age of 20. Now, two decades later, Swazi Trails is a diversified tourism business that has helped establish the Swazi Kingdom as a destination worth packing your hiking boots, MTB or kayak for.
Married to Anita, a rafting client who bowled him over on a rafting trip one fateful day, the couple have two unavoidably adventurous kids, Kei and Paige, who share their jest for keeping the spirit of adventure alive.
|Julian first began his career in the exciting, fast-paced world of advertising with Publicis Worldwide and this is where his fascination with brands began. He then moved across to the client side and two and a half years later is proud to be the brand manager for Liberty – one of South Africa’s longest standing and successful brands. Julian has always been passionate about sports and branding and the opportunity to combine these two came about in the form of Liberty’s sponsorship of Peter van Kets. Being involved in his solo rowing expedition across the Atlantic has been a life-changing experience. Julian has travelled extensively and he has lived in Spain, Australia, South Korea and the United States. Outside of work he enjoys spending time on the golf course or with a reel and rod in hand, while in the company of his friends and family.|
|Kyle was the recipient of Mountain Club of South Africa’s 2009 ‘Supertramp Award’, an annual cash prize given to young people planning expeditions or trips of interest. The sponsorship made Kyle’s walk – circumnavigating South Africa on foot – possible, covering the bulk of his food and accommodation costs. Kyle started walking from Cape Town in May 2009, making his way clockwise around the country. Kyle completed this 6,000km adventure in February 2010. walksa.blogspot.com|
|In May this year, Mandy became the second South African woman to summit Everest; and the first African-born woman to climb all seven of the World’s heighest mountains on each continent. It took this mother of four, with a successful career in investment banking, only five years to knock off the seven mountains, starting with Kili in 2006. Mandy’s posts written during her time on Everest were captivating and insightful, telling of many surprising elements of the mountain that those not up there too are unaware of. She shares these observations at FEAT.|
|An accomplished photo-journalist, Marianne started climbing in 1996 while studying fine arts at Wits Technikon, Johannesburg. She relocated to England in late 1998 to have easier access to European climbing areas. In 1999, she spent six months in the USA climbing in nine different states. It was in Yosemite that she started big wall climbing on classic lines of El Capitan and The Leaning Tower. Marianne has climbed the Trango Tower in Pakistan as well as all three of the Torres del Paine in Chile. She is, to date, the only woman to have climbed all three; she is the only woman to have climbed the east face of the central tower. In 2006 she joined Mike Blyth and James Pitman on their journey to film ‘No Need for Parking’, an epic flying and rock climbing trip around South Africa. She is a member of the 7Summits7Flights team, jumping tandem with Pierre Carter. www.7summits7flights.co.za|
|Mike’s passions are adventure flying, business and film making. In 1992 he became South Africa’s first aviation world champion by winning the Microlight World Champs. Mike began expedition flying in 1995 when he flew his self-designed and made trike-type microlight from Cape Town to Norway. Taking to the air again in 1999 he flew from Buenos Aires to Cape Town. More recently, Mike, with James Pitman, became the first South African to circumnavigate the globe in their self-designed and made aircraft called ‘The Sling’. Mike is the recipient of many local and international awards for his flying feats. He has made three films (and is busy with three more), all of which have won numerous awards at film festivals around the world. Mike, 56, is married to Charmaine and has 3 children. www.airplanefactory.co.za, www.noneedforparking.com, www.trike-expeditions.com|
|Peter van Kets
|Peter is a professional adventurer and public speaker. A qualified teacher, he is married to Kim (also an accomplished athlete) and they have a daughter, Hannah. Although Peter has been part of many expeditions, he made his mark in the world of adventure by winning the 5,438km unsupported Atlantic Rowing Race 2007/8 (pairs) with friend Bill Godfrey. As if rowing the Atlantic once wasn’t enough, he returned in early 2010 to place second in the solo category and to become the first African to row any ocean solo and unsupported. He also won the prestigious Eastern Cape Sports Star of the Year (2007) Award – Premiers Award. In 2012 Peter will traverse the Tropic of Capricorn without the use of motorised transport, a 37,500km epic adventure. www.petervankets.com|
|With 30 years of climbing and mountaineering and 20 years of paragliding experience, it’s little wonder that Pierre’s most recent project combines his passion for mountains and flight. Although he has already summited and flown off Elbrus and Aconcagua, he’s doing it again. He also plans to add the ‘other’ five – with Marianne Schwankhart and Peter Friedmann – in his 7Summits7Flights conquest. www.7summits7flights.co.za|
|On foot or in the [bicycle] saddle, Ray leans towards unusual adventures and endurance challenges, linking them to worthy causes. After school, he spent several years developing websites and managing computer networks around the World. Returning to Cape Town, Ray changed his career and lifestyle to plan and accomplish adventurous expeditions.
As Getaway magazine’s ‘Gear Guru’, Ray is a well-known gear destroyer; he pushes equipment to its limit. With his IT and digital media background, Ray’s technical knowledge is unsurpassed; he’s the most technologically advanced, best connected and communicative adventurer around. www.raychaplin.com