Waikato alum Tim Stewart got his first taste of mountaineering in 2015 during a trip to Nepal on the University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Programme. Three years later, he is an avid mountaineer, recently conquering Mount Chimborazo, the farthest point from the centre of the Earth.
Originally from Paraparaumu, Tim came to the University of Waikato to study a Bachelor of Management Studies in 2011. A keen runner, Tim spent his days training for athletics in summer and cross country in winter. But a chronic hip injury put an abrupt end to his running career, and left a void in his life – until he took up mountain climbing first in Nepal and then during an overseas exchange in South America.
“I realised mountaineering has a lot of the same things I love about running: the competition with others and yourself, the mental toughness you need to build and push your limits, and the euphoria when you’ve exceeded your limits and achieved your goals,” Tim says.
In December, Tim reached Mount Chimborazo’s summit, his greatest climbing challenge yet. The seven hour climb in the midst of a blizzard was a gruelling experience and, of the 30 climbers who attempted Chimborazo that day, Tim was one of four who made it to the top.
“We were absolutely exhausted when we reached the top, but the ultimate prize of mountaineering is definitely reaching the summit,” he says.
Tim says his proudest professional achievement was receiving the Step Higher Award in 2015, his first taste of mountaineering.
“I was the very last person to be added to the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship, so being one of the few chosen for the Step Higher trip to Nepal was a massive achievement for me. It was a surreal experience to visit the Nepalese people and see their different values – they can be so happy with so little. Plus seeing Sir Edmund Hillary’s work was really inspiring.”
After he graduated from the University of Waikato in 2014, Tim went straight into a top job as Manager of Finance and Administration at social enterprise Agoge. He also worked as the Financial Director of Social Innovation New Zealand, a not-for-profit that engages students in social enterprise.
He has spent the last eight months travelling South America to focus on his mountaineering. In March, he will start work as a mountain bike guide on Bolivia’s 'Death Road’, where he will continue climbing in the Central Andes. Tim is always looking for new opportunities and aims to start his own social enterprise in an industry he is passionate about.
“Working at Agoge showed me that companies have a duty to use their influence for good so I would like to continue on that mission. I’m passionate about the adventure tourism industry, as well as improving education in remote communities so I am constantly looking to start a venture in this area.”