Interview with Tim Moss – the founder of TheNextChallenge.org

by | adventure interviews, interviews

tim moss
We’d like to introduce you to one of our friends, favorite adventurers and an all around awesome person  – Tim Moss.
He’s one of the best-known British explorers and the founder of TheNextChallenge.org.
Tim was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.
1. So Tim, let’s not bit around the bush, has anyone ever told you that you were crazy?

I’m told that occasionally! I don’t think so, though.

I just like exploring.

2. OK, now that we got that awkward question out of the way, tell us a few words about yourself. Not like your hometown or a driver’s license number…but, who is Tim Moss?

I’m someone who enjoys physical activity, being outdoors and going on expeditions.

That has led me to visit various countries around the world, undertaking a range of different activities. That has ranged from mountaineering in the Andes to spending 16 months cycling around the world, to running the length of every London Underground Tube line and setting a world record for the longest distance cycled on a ricksaw.

3. How did this passion for adventure come to be?

I got into walking as a kid. Every year from the age of 14, my friends and I would load our rucksacks with camping kit and travel to a national park in the summer holidays for a few days’ walking and wild camping.

That naturally strayed into climbing and mountaineering. Then, at university, I saw a poster advertising expedition grants. I applied and got some funding to climb new mountains in Kyrgyzstan.

After university, I got a job at the British Schools Exploring Society (now just ‘British Exploring’) where I organised expeditions to the Arctic for a living. I also got to work in the Royal Geographical Society where I was surrounded by fascinating people.

From there, I decided to set up my own website to help others have adventures.

4. Why did you decide to start TheNextChallenge.org? What’s the idea behind it?

I got into walking as a kid. Every year from the age of 14, my friends and I would load our rucksacks with camping kit and travel to a national park in the summer holidays for a few days’ walking and wild camping.

That naturally strayed into climbing and mountaineering. Then, at university, I saw a poster advertising expedition grants. I applied and got some funding to climb new mountains in Kyrgyzstan.

After university, I got a job at the British Schools Exploring Society (now just ‘British Exploring’) where I organised expeditions to the Arctic for a living. I also got to work in the Royal Geographical Society where I was surrounded by fascinating people.

From there, I decided to set up my own website to help others have adventures.

5. What do your non-adventurer friends and family think about what you do?

I get plenty of jokes at work about always being on some kind of mission and never just eating pizza in front of the TV (which I do!).

I think my friends understand most of what I do. They can see the appeal of travelling and exploring new places. Not everyone understands why I would sleep outside in a plastic bag though or why I would choose to spend my holidays sweating my way up a hill!

6. Is there an anecdote or one particular adventure that comes to mind that your family frowned upon?

Before my wife and I cycled around the world, I remember that her mum half-jokingly said that we couldn’t visit any countries whose name ended in ‘-stan’. Presumably imagining places like Afghanistan and Pakistan (neither of which we had any intention of visiting!).

We took great pleasure in discovering that lots of the countries we travelled through referred to England as ‘Inglistan’.

7. We are a website about sleep, so let’s touch on that – what’s your daily sleep routine like and is how do you plan your sleep arrangements on “overnight” adventures?

I like my sleep and I don’t work well without it. When I wake up, I prefer to get straight out of bed rather than snooze, so that means aiming for early nights (boring!)

My favourite way to sleep in the outdoors is bivvying. I like the fact that you’re really outside in the elements rather than hidden away from them. On a still, dry night, it is hard to beat.

9. Is there one hair-raising adventure from your past that stands out?

The most hair-raising adventure was my first: climbing in Kyrgyzstan. But that quickly taught me that while I like adventure, I don’t like danger, so I try to avoid anything too hair-raising now.

A trip that stands out otherwise is crossing the Wahiba Sands. It is a tiny desert in Oman, comprised entirely of huge, rolling sand dunes. My wife, Laura, and I walked across it. We timed it for a full moon so we could walk late at night when it was cooler.

We had to carry all of our own water and ration it very tightly. When we reached the road at the far side and stuck our thumbs out for a lift, we had 100ml left between us.

10. What does the future hold for Tim? Anything especially exciting we should pay attention to?

Laura and I recently returned from one of our toughest trips: walking across the frozen surface of Lake Baikal in Siberia. It freezes every winter and we dragged sleds across it, pitching our tent on the ice (double camping mats for that!) and melting snow for drinking water.

Our stove broke half way across so we had to smash through the ice to get fresh drinking water then dash to shore so we can collect firewood to melt snow. Very dramatic.

It was fun but hard work and very cold. So I think our next trip might be somewhere warm! A desert perhaps…

11. What’s Tim Moss’ message to the the adventurous souls out there?

You do not need lots of time, money or expertise to have an adventure. And you do not need to be a bearded, masochist.

Adventure is available to everyone, be it climbing in the Himalayas or camping out on a school night.

12. Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention? This is your chance to brag a bit, we encourage you to use it.

I offer an annual expedition grant. It was originally funded by the money I got from the adverts on my website (£200). Then I invite 100 members of the public to donate £2 each. Following that, lots of other ‘adventurers’ came forward and we now get £1,500-2,000 each year.

We’ve funded 40 different adventures over three years, from short family trips to multi-month epics.

Anyone can apply. Details are here: www.thenextchallenge.org/grant