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Summit Mont Blanc 2020

Next summer in 2020 Alistair Galloway (BSc Biochemistry 2001) is planning an expedition to climb and summit Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Europe and the Alps at 4,810m (15,781 ft) – to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, young and gender diverse climbers, explorers and adventurers and a University of St Andrews Scholarship Fund, amongst other causes. 

The Summit Mont Blanc 2020 expedition team has set up a fundraising page with the aim of raising £75,000 for these projects, and is also currently seeking corporate partners for the endeavour. The team aims to undertake further high-altitude climbs in the future to build a lasting legacy of globalism, environmental awareness and responsibility. 

Alistair describes here key aspects of his life (including his time at St Andrews) that have shaped him and driven him to undertake this challenge.

Sport, climbing and adventure at St Andrews

Apart from studying, my time at University was filled with sporting activities: I captained the University Rowing Club, was a member of the cross-country, boxing, rugby and swimming clubs at various times, and stood for election as Athletic Union President.  I also have fond memories training and participating with team-mates in competitions around Scotland and the rest of the UK.

I started hill-walking and climbing as a teenager and enjoyed plenty of opportunities to spend time in the Scottish Highlands while studying at St Andrews, and as a member of the Territorial Army.

All of these things prepared the path not only for my future career but, ultimately, for this challenge.

After St Andrews

After I left University, I joined the British Army and attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served in Canada, Iraq, and Belize, amongst other places, as a member of the Household Cavalry, The Life Guards (alongside the Duke of Cambridge). When I joined financial services and working in the City of London, I still managed to pursue my passion for challenge and adventure by completing three ultra-trail-marathons (including the Eiger Ultra trail in Grindelwald Valley, Switzerland) five marathons and numerous half-marathons and 10km races.

Giving back

I remember my time at St Andrews fondly and I’ve always felt it was important to play an active part of the alumni community, as a way of giving back to the University. I was a member of the University of St Andrews Alumni Club London organising committee that established the London Scholarship Fund through Alumni Carol Services at St Paul’s Cathedral (2012) and Westminster Abbey (2013). More recently, I served on the General Council Business committee and helped provide input to University thinking on career opportunities for undergraduates, internships, commercial, development and entrepreneurial activities at the University.

One of the drivers for this and for establishing the Scholarship Fund at St Andrews is to provide an opportunity for those who have been in the social care system to attend the University. My father, who was born in Edinburgh, was brought up in social and foster care in Scotland, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to study at St Andrews and use the experiences this has given me to pursue the career opportunities and the challenges and adventures I’ve had. I would like other young people – who might otherwise not be able to come here – to benefit in the same way.

Preparing for the expedition

To prepare for the expedition I recently undertook a winter mountaineering skills course in Ballachulish and Glencoe and will be training hard over the next eight months by climbing in Scotland and Europe. I also intend to raise awareness through a series of preparatory walks.

Early in 2020, I will visit St Andrews with the Summit Mont Blanc 2020 team to link up with the University outdoor activity and climbing clubs to deliver a talk to both town and gown on the progress of the team in preparing for this challenge.

Be part of the adventure

To find out more about the expedition, arrange for the team to deliver an inspirational talk to your company, or enquire about corporate sponsorship packages please email or direct message Alistair via LinkedIn .

You can follow the teams progress via Instagram and Twitter and we will hear progress from the team on this blog throughout 2020.

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