Anna McCormack

Anna is well known in the outdoor world as an explorer, professional endurance athlete and gear expert. As well as having some first ascents in the greater ranges to her name and having taken part in many individual and peer-group expeditions through the years, she has also led youth and scientific expeditions to the Tien Shan with BSES Expeditions as Chief Mountaineer and to Namibia, as Country Director for Raleigh International.

Some of her favourite travel memories pre University include scientific research in Kashmir and climbing Masuru Kangri in Ladakh at the age of 17; at 18, a solo jungle trek across NW Sumatra, over-landing across Java and the Nussa Tengara and bivvying out on the shores of the crater lake of Mt Rinjani, Lombok (3,726m); on her 19th birthday, trekking and climbing through thick jungle to the summit of Indonesia’s highest volcano - Gunung Kerinci in Sumatra (3805m).

Later on, highlights included ‘accompaniment’ work in Central America during the El Salvadorian civil war,a year of co-operative living in Eugene Oregon, climbing and ski trips through the Pacific North West, Colorado and Western Canada, 3 months in remote West African villages researching non-timber forest product use for Ghanaian forest policy, biking across the Nepali and Tibetan Himalayas, hitching out to circumnavigate Mount Kailash in the far west of Tibet, exploratory paddling, biking and climbing throughout the Nepali Himalayas, off-roading through remote parts of Namibia's deserts and kayaking in Lake Ladoga, Russia.

Academically, Anna holds a Masters degree in Forestry and Land Management from Oxford University, a BSc from the University of Aberdeen in Environmental Science of the Tropics and a PGCE Teaching Qualification in Science and Geography from Leeds University (the last, primarily, in order to spend a year climbing and bouldering in the Peak District).

She has always been torn between her passions for environmental development / aid work and exploratory travel but luckily it was often possible to combine these. All in all, she has lived and worked in 12 countries and travelled through over 40. Four years of her life have been spent working in the developing world, often living in very basic conditions either as a researcher, volunteer or development worker. Two years were spent in the US and Canada and over five have been recently spent in the high Arctic. Hence, she is comfortable in most outdoor environments.

Professionally, she has worked for organisations as diverse as DFID, the World Bank and an international movement working alongside the FMLN guerilla army in El Salvador during the peace accords. Highlights have included being Country-Director of a development charity in Namibia and a regional manager of an international rafting company in Nepal. Closer to home, she spent two years in the Expedition Advisory Centre of the Royal Geographical Society in London and also worked as an instructor for Plas-y-Brenin, the UK’s National Mountain Centre.

For five years, Anna competed professionally around the globe as an adventure racing athlete, in the process working closely with over 40 companies in the outdoor industry and becoming an expert in both sponsorship and gear. As a sideline, she worked from time to time as a journalist and as a public speaker. Her last corporate role was with General Electric where she spent 2.5 years as the European Product Manager for eVent® Fabrics.

If you asked Anna today, to choose between mountain, desert, jungle and polar landscapes, it would be a surprisingly easy choice – mountain every time. Despite this, she loves her home in this remote Arctic region and has a solid background in polar travel. In 2006, for instance, she culminated two years of project planning and research around the design and development of enabling outdoor equipment for disabled athletes with a successful paraplegic crossing of the Greenland Icecap. For this, she was awarded a prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Medal for expedition leadership.

For the past two years, she has been concentrating on the development of the family business (and on growing the family) in Hetta and can’t wait until her son is old enough to accompany her on the next phase of her adventures.

A recent podcast in which Anna was asked about what drove her to live the life she has chosen to live.

In 2006, Anna led a pioneering crossing of the Greenland Icecap with a team of 5 other explorers, including one paraplegic girl, Karen, and Anna's husband, Pasi (click here for the expedition website).