The Journal

What's life like on the Apex?

Our Apex range pushes design principles right to the edge. We know this isn’t everyone’s cup of joe; we designed it for those who appreciate the opportunity and uncertainty inherent in any experiment. Those who like to push at the edges themselves. So, we spoke to a few of our favorite boundary-pushers recently, to find out what this idea means to them. Somewhat surprisingly, it seems that slowing down, living simply and accepting when to let go of control, makes for a better time out there in the extremes. Read on to find out why...

Lydia Bradey climbed Everest. Six times.

Lydia Bradey grew up in New Zealand – surrounded by rugged landscapes and peaks to climb. She made a conscious choice, as a uni student, to make a life out of being a climber. In that single moment, it changed from a hobby, to a career. “I was already passionate and excited about the mountains, and then it was like somebody just tapped me on the shoulder, and said ‘Hey, just GO climbing. I knew then I could do it – go climbing, as my mission. And that’s when I realised I was born to lead a peripatetic life.” And go climbing, she did. Lydia became the first woman to summit Everest without oxygen, and has guided others to the top five times since (with plenty of oxygen bottles in tow). Talk about the literal embodiment of Apex!

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When we spoke to Lydia (across a jagged video line between Melbourne and Lake Hawea on the South Island of New Zealand), she was philosophical about the current lack of international adventure. “COVID has affected my lifestyle, big time, but it’s OK and I’m quite free here. So I can’t get upset about it,” she says. “We bought a little 1970s A-frame on the wild west coast of New Zealand. So, we’ve been busy painting and working hard to make it a really nice space. And watching the amazing sunsets across the ocean! “Living simply, but living well, is really important to me. In the mountains, you have to – because in everything there is a consequence. But staying still? I love that too. Sometimes, when you’ve done something really big, you have to rest.”

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Now 58 years of age, Lydia is still the go-to guide of choice for many high-end expedition companies. Her experience, and ability to strategize at 8000 meters means she can still ‘outclimb’ the younger and stronger.

“In 2018, climbing Everest from the Nepal side, I and my little team were the first to reach the summit by 40 minutes – and we watched the dawn rise on the world. Those 40 minutes remain some of my most memorable summit days on any mountain.” Reassuringly confident and refreshingly sprightly in manner, Lydia credits her life with a couple of key values – empathy, hard work, and respect for nature. Quite a formidable combination when leading a life of wild, but deliberate, adventure.

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“Empathy is really important – for your surroundings, for the people you’re with, and the people you meet,” she says. “And being respectful of nature, means you don’t go bullishly across a slope that might avalanche. It means you might be looking into the sky to see the storm arriving… “Hard work is become something I’m really proud of. When I was a young climber, I was lucky that I was taken under the wing of people much older. I did a lot of hard work. I couldn’t lead the climb, but I could put the tent up, melt snow for water… whatever it was, I made sure I gave to the community. And that meant they looked after me and taught me well.”

“Living simply, but living well, is really important to me. In the mountains, you have to – because in everything there is a consequence.”

- Lydia Bradey

Kendall Wesenberg speeds down an ice track, head first.

Kendall Wesenberg began skeleton racing competitively in her early 20s – and finished her inaugural year as the first American woman to end the Europe Cup season in first place. Now a core member of the United States Olympic team, Kendall dedicates her days (and years) to the sport.

To anybody watching on from the side, skeleton seems, well, terrifying. And the athletes, pretty darn hardcore. But for Kendall, the adventurousness of the sport – and indeed life on the road – is balanced by a fair amount of convention and routine.

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“In season, we are up around 7am, at the track all morning, back to the hotel for lunch and then into dry land training, sled work, physical therapy, dinner, catching up with people back home, bed… and the same thing the next day,” she explains. And in the offseason, it’s much the same, minus the hotel rooms.

Despite that disciplined approach, Kendall has spent a bit of time honing her ability to ‘let go’ – to be OK with a certain lack of control. Somewhat ironic, you might think, for a person who spends their life hurtling down an iced track, face first! But, it seems that knowing what you can and can’t control is what makes a proficient boundary-pusher in the first place – understanding where the rules are to be tested, where there is room to explore. And then, when it’s time to pull back.

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“As athletes, we are out of control when it comes to some of the planning and variables in our lives,” she explains. “So I like to think that I am well practiced at adapting. The biggest adaptation for me recently has been finding new motivation to train by myself every day, connect with friends without being able to see them in person, and feeling rested without going on a vacation. “On the mental side of things, not knowing how to prepare for winter or what it is going to look like has definitely been a challenge. I have to constantly check in with myself and control what I can, until we know more.”

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And, like Lydia, Kendall has been using the current state of the world to slow down. “I have really been trying to enjoy the forced break and slower pace that has come with it,” she says. “I have learned to slow down and find ways to create experiences out of things that are closer to home.” And with that, a good dose of perspective on life that is bound to get back to its pre-COVID level of adventure: “I chose a very non-traditional route for my life and I really enjoy seeing just how far I can push limits and how much I can achieve. For now (and always), I am focused on living with authenticity and enthusiasm... and not taking it all too seriously. Plus, I have incredible people who consistently show up for me and who I get to share life-changing moments with – and those are the things that I find most worthwhile.”

“As athletes, we are out of control when it comes to some of the planning and variables in our lives. So I like to think that I am well practiced at adapting.”

- Kendall Wesenberg

Tim Harris wears the soles out on his boots, time and time again.

Melbourne-based business owner, Tim Harris, is a multi-faceted communicator. Whether it’s in writing, face-to-face, or through a camera lens, he sure knows how to connect to the human spirit. “I believe community is the life-pool of all things,” he says. “I think it's important to try and find common ground with those who surround you, no matter the circumstance.”

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Before he started True Tribe – the communications agency he runs with his wife, Clarissa – and even before he was a photographer, Tim was a youth worker in a local high school. This high school, at the time, had the highest suicide rate in the state of Victoria. “I felt pretty helpless about the situation,” Tim explains. “But I also knew that, by bringing a group of volunteers together, we could create a different culture in the school. For five years we ran programs that encouraged young people to explore their unique selves, and express themselves creatively. Through finding their creative voice, they were able to see it was OK to be different – and that by being different within a community meant they were part of something bigger.” Nowadays, Tim works hard to help businesses find their creative voice. And maintains his strong sense of community in everything – work and play alike. While his career pursuit might seem less ‘extreme’ than Lydia’s and Kendall’s, there are still plenty of boundaries to push, when you have an attitude like Tim’s. An attitude that sees him hitting the dusty roads on a motorcycle one minute, and pondering the adventure that’s found in sitting still, the next.

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“I like having a bottle of whisky ready to go to share when special friends come over. I like to have boots that will outlive their soles time and time again. And I like fast weekends, lived well. And recently, adventure has become less about adrenaline and more about enjoying what it is I decide to do in any given moment – believe it or not, this has been a really healthy shift for me.”And, there’s nothing like a global pandemic and forced isolation (we chat to Tim in August, while Melbourne is in its third or fourth – we’ve lost count – cycle of lockdown) to force a reset. “I have been allowing myself to blueprint what my future might look like,” Tim says. “Even small things like finding the best workflow for my shed! But in all seriousness, humans are the only creatures who have the ability to dream their future – it's where we find a sense of purpose.

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“If anything, I feel like COVID has shown us how boundaries can be pushed and rules can be broken so quickly. This is definitely not how I imagined life could be in 2020. This bastard has shown how much change you can effect, just by getting a bit of momentum. May all of our dreams and good intentions be a little bit more infectious, once we get out of lockdown.”

“I like having a bottle of whisky ready to go to share when special friends come over. I like to have boots that will outlive their soles time and time again. And I like fast weekends, lived well.”

- Tim Harris

Exploration comes in many forms. Even when the physical boundaries are tight.

What these three have in common – beyond an adventurous spirit and a fair serving of ‘chutzpah’ – is the ability to find adventure within. To explore in ways that aren’t as obvious. And bring fresh optimism to the fore. And that’s why we think they embody the Apex spirit so darn well.

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