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article imageActivist's ambitious plan to conquer mountains for animals Special

By Elizabeth Batt     Dec 20, 2012 in Environment
Stony Plain - With so many animal causes around the world, one activist decided that in order to succeed he needed to do something a little different. Richard Smith will be literally climbing mountains to help animals in need.
Smith is a fairly new contributor to Digital Journal, but he has already made it clear where is heart lies in the articles he's written so far. But when he approached me with a novel plan to raise awareness for animal issues, I was at first curious and then astounded by what he was proposing.
You see Smith is planning to tackle some of the world's most nefarious mountains for those animals most in need of human help.
But it doesn't stop there. I was even more astonished to learn that Smith is seeking no financial backing for this ambitious project at all. In fact, he initially told me about his project Climbing4hashtags.com:
This site, campaign, adventure, I’m heading out on is NOT about monetary support. I do not want any financial backers, or donations for any climb. I will not at this point, or any other point, be taking donation or financial support. Every climb and expedition will be paid for by myself; in fact, I have already rejected financial sponsorship twice. All I want is for people to get involved with the campaign and causes, if this is something they believe is something worth getting behind.
Smith's individual climbs will each be assigned a Twitter hashtag which he hopes people will use to spread the good word. His first climb for #killthetrade (saving elephants, rhinos and tigers), will be on June 9th 2013, and is a multiple climb incorporating Canada's Mt. Olive (3110m.); Mt. St. Nicholas (2900m.) Mt. Gordon (3200m.); Mt. Thompson (3050m.); Mt. Balfour (3230m.) and Mt. Rhondda (3110m.).
Last campaign: The Matterhorn  which sits on the border between Switzerland and Italy.
Last campaign: The Matterhorn, which sits on the border between Switzerland and Italy.
GammaCygni
The activist has established 15 climbs in all, each progressively more daring than the last. Smith's final two campaigns for example, will tackle Mt. Everest and the Matterhorn in the Pennine Alps.
So what should we know about Richard Smith?
RS: Well I was born and raised by both parents in Bristol, UK and now live in Canada with my wife and children, I'm 30 years young. My folks raised me as an environmentalist and animal rights activist.
By the age of 10 I was using my pocket money to join groups such as the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), and later the WDCS (now Whale and Dolphin Conservation). Now I am monetary supporter of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS).
Animal rights activism and environmentalism is a massive part of my life, apart from the mountains, and ocean, it’s the only real interest I have, to protect, conserve, and spread global awareness of the plight of the animals we share this world with.
Ever since a child I have been involved in someway with environmentalism and animal rights activism. I see my only real achievement as raising two kids who have a respect for the environment and the animals we share it with, that's the only achievement I will boast about!
So are you a professional climber? Have you done climbing in the past?
RS: As a child I climbed and hiked a lot in North Wales; but nothing on this scale. I love the mountains, and for a long time have had this overwhelming desire to climb, especially in the last year when I have started daydreaming of making an Everest attempt, it's become more of a desire now than a daydream. I have come to a point in my life where I want to climb mountains, and now is the time.
What on earth gave you the idea of this ambitious project?
RS: Spreading awareness is everything. It is the key to moving forward; only with awareness will the world see the issues animals face, the destruction being caused to the planet, and only then can real change be made.
I knew the time in my life was coming that I wanted to start mountaineering on a serious scale, and made a commitment to myself that I would make an Everest attempt within 5 years. The idea to incorporate my desire to climb, with my desire to spread awareness came from nowhere really. I just thought, how can I climb while spreading awareness, which led me to the idea of promoting hashtag campaigns while on expedition, and it just grew from there, and ended up being a full scale 15 climb campaign series.
How are you funding the climbs?
RS: Currently I am not accepting donations or funding. I am not interested in receiving funds from anyone or any organization. This is due to the fact I want the climb to belong to the causes, not a person, organization or sponsor.
I do not want anyone to think this is a mere strategy to have my expedition paid for; therefore each climb will be paid for by myself. However, with this said, the ONLY way I could be tempted to receive any type of sponsorship from a person or organization is if they shared the same moral beliefs I do. They would be supporting each hashtag campaign in full, and the sponsor would NOT be mentioned, or promoted; a silent sponsorship.
What has been the response to the new website so far?
RS: It has been slow, as any new website, or campaign is. People are responding with likes to the Facebook page, but not really engaging in regards to sharing, tweeting/retweeting etc; I am okay with this, it’s very new. I have complete faith that people will get behind it, and will support each climb. And if not, all I can do is try, and keep climbing. If I reach one person, then I have succeeded.
So how can people help?
RS: People can help in a few ways. Share the facebook page around, share the website and blog posts, but most importantly, spread awareness of each climb and its hashtag campaign.
Climb #1 is dedicated to help spread awareness of the plight of rhinos, tigers and elephants. People can help by simply tweeting #killthetrade with their support of the campaign while also mentioning #climb4hashtags.
Its all about awareness, the only help I ask for is for people to spread the word far and wide that these animals need our voice, and it's time we gave it to them.
Do you need equipment donated?
RS: I will accept equipment donations, and if people are interested in a list I will provide it, but I’m not actively looking for it. If it is something people would like to do, and maybe have their name added to the site under an equipment donor list, I’m sure we can do that.
Which climb do you believe is the most ambitious one that you have set for yourself?
RS: Easy … Everest. That will be the climb of climbs. The climb that makes you question every part of your being. I can’t wait to get there.
Surely you're not tackling the climbs alone?
RS: Each climb will be an expedition climb; I will be climbing with a group or climbers and mountain guides, and also Sherpa’s on Everest and Denali.
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To say I wish Richard Smith all the best in his endeavors seems somewhat underwhelming in light of what he's planning to achieve. So I hope folks will support his massive quest to tweet when asked and share his journey. Smith's extraordinary quest can be followed on the website: Climbing4hashtags.com, on his Facebook and Twitter page, or via his blog.
More about Richard Smith, climbing4hashtags, Activism
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