When he’s not running across deserts or exploring remote mountain ranges, Ricky works in humanitarian aid. His missions have taken him to Kenya, Sudan, Bangladesh & Pakistan. As a Chartered Accountant, Ricky is committed to ensuring that aid is delivered to the most vulnerable people in the most efficient and effective way.
Ricky uses his expeditions as fundraising vehicles for charities that he supports personally. Since 2004, he has raised funds for Facing Africa, Maggie's Centres, Kenya Children's Home and Raleigh International.
Ricky is currently based on Vancouver Island, where he has been taking time out to study web design and to prepare for climbing the highest mountain in North America. He will attempt to climb the West Buttress of Denali (6,194m) over 3 weeks in April & May 2012. You can find out more about Ricky by clicking on the panels below:
Phyllis Munday - Legendary Canadian
Ricky is proud of his family's historical contribution to mountaineering. His grandfather's cousin was Phyllis B Munday (1894 – 1990) a famed Canadian mountaineer, explorer, naturalist and humanitarian. She was the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Robson in 1924 with husband Don. At the time, Mount Robson was thought to be British Columbia's highest mountain. However, in 1925 Phyl & Don identified Mount Waddington (13,260ft) (which they called 'Mystery Mountain') in 1925. They spotted it from the summit of Mount Arrowsmith on Vancouver Island. In the words of Don Munday:
The compass showed the alluring peak stood along a line passing a little east of Bute Inlet and perhaps 150 miles away, where blank spaces on the map left ample room for many nameless mountains.
Although they ultimately failed in their heroic attempts to reach the summit, they had the honour of naming the mountain, which still stands proud as BC's highest. In addition, Mount Munday, which sits just 6km distant from Mt. Waddington, is named after Don and Phyl Munday, and they named Baby Munday Peak after daughter Edith.
Phyl was Awarded the Order of Canada in 1972 for her work with the Girl Guides of Canada & St. John's Ambulance as well as for her mountaineering career.
Phyl was honoured by having a stamp issued bearing her image. Echoing the feel and impact of the great posters of the 1930's, the stamp depicts Phyl in her climbing gear and participating in one of her favourite pastimes, hiking. This stamp was issued on August 15, 1998, as part of the Stamp Series: Legendary Canadians - 2,000,000 copies of the stamp were printed
Her spirit and determination continue to inspire Ricky to fulfil his own potential and serve his community
During an era when females in the mountains were about as common as men in the kitchen, a young woman named Phyllis Beatrice James discovered the “inappropriate behaviour” of mountain climbing.
Born in Ceylon, Sri Lanka on September 24, 1894, Phyllis’ destiny changed when her father, a Lipton’s Tea manager, moved the family to Canada in 1901. They settled in the greater Vancouver area. It was here that Phyllis joined the Girl Guides Association and climbed her first peak, Grouse Mountain.Her next step was becoming a member of the British Columbia Mountaineering Club. It was 1915, and Phyllis was 21 - smitten and unstoppable when it came to outdoor exploration.
While working as a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment during the First World War, a soldier was admitted into the hospital to re-cover from a bullet wound to his arm. Phyllis would say later that she didn’t like Don Munday at first, but his persistence and, more importantly, his love for the mountains won her over. Their marriage in 1920 became more than a partnership in love: it was a union unparalleled to anything the mountaineering world had ever seen.
It is hard to speak of Phyllis’ noteworthy accomplishments without also drawing her husband into the equation. The two were inseparable and tireless when it came to first ascents and explorations. But there is no question that Phyllis, or ‘Phyl’, as she became informally known to her friends, was independent and capable. In 1924, she became the first woman to reach the summit of the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Robson (3954 metres). Swiss guide, Ed Feuz, classified Phyl as “…a strong woman; as strong as any man.” It’s uncertain whether his description referred to the time she charged after a grizzly bear chasing Don into the bushes, or that she willingly took over a decade to explore and attempt “Mystery Mountain”.
What is clear is that this young woman wasn’t going through a phase when she entered into the world of mountaineering. After the birth of their first and only child, Edith, in 1921, Phyl carried on as though motherhood were something she simply added to her backpack. Edith Munday was only eleven weeks old when she summated her first mountain; she would eventually travel on quite a few of her parents’ outings.
Having a Phyl along on expeditions was at first confusing to the men. Here was a woman who would carry more than half her body weight in wool and pitons, but would not be asked to make bread and biscuits. A woman could only be so talented, after all, and Phyl’s gift for physical endurance surely pilfered from other areas where a woman might have been expected to excel.
An excerpt from Phil Dowling’s The Mountaineers, reads
What she baked wasn’t exactly like pancakes and not exactly like bannock either. The men first called it “pannock” and later, “panic”.
Gender classification was something Phyl could avoid while in the mountains and perhaps this was part of the allure. By now, she and Don had tallied up numerous first ascents and roused more than just idle interest in the eyes of other mountaineers. Her male team members barely blinked when she’d stash her respectable city skirts somewhere on the trails and carry on in her bloomers. This was somehow less risqué than wearing trousers or knickerbockers.
It was a clear day on top of Mount Arrowsmith (1817 metres) on Southern Vancouver Island when the Munday’s first spotted the mountain that would hold their attention for years to come. Phyl was spanning the horizon with binoculars when she caught sight of a large massif about 200 kms away. At home, the two poured over maps and documents trying to find out what it was and how they might get there. They nicknamed the peak “Mystery Mountain”, until it officially became Mount Waddington in 1928. The mountain stood at 4019 metres and was the highest in the coastal range.
Their first exploratory trip into Waddington in 1926 started off a series of unsuccessful attempts that would span over the course of a decade. In the eleven expeditions the two took to the Mount Waddington area, the closest they would ever come to actually reaching the top was in 1928 when they quit within a tempting eighteen metres of its summit. The team, consisting of Phyl, Don, and Don’s brother, Bert, opted to turn back, deeming the final steps “too risky”.
The mountain’s seemingly impenetrable sur-roundings thwarted Phyl and Don time and time again. Though they certainly deserved it, this coastal monolith was not to be claimed by the Munday’s. They were, however, widely recognized for their discovery of this area: a 3505-metre peak on Waddington’s south-east ridge was named Mount Munday in their honour. Phyl and Don summited their namesake in July of 1930.
In 1946, the Munday’s had their last, first ascent together on Reliance Mountain, in the coastal range. Don died of pneumonia on June 12, 1950. Through the open doors of a chartered airplane, Phyl scattered her husband’s ashes over the summit of Mount Munday, claiming an end to what she called, “The best thirty years of my life”.
In her lifetime, Phyl received many awards, medals, and honours attesting to her merit as an influential and outstanding woman, but she remained decidedly independent through all the admiration: Phyl was seventy years old when she learned how to drive and bought her first car.
Phyllis Beatrice Munday died nearly a half-century after her husband, in 1990, at the age of 95.
Ricky grew up on a council housing estate in Bothwell, a small village on the outskirts of Glasgow. He was very active child and quickly showed a talent for sports. His nickname locally was "Roadrunner"; he frequently beat older kids in foot races in the streets around his house. His parents encouraged him to try all the sports on offer at Uddingston Cricket & Sports Club, where his father had captained the Rugby section.
From aged 7, Ricky played mini rugby and travelled around much of west central Scotland competing in the thriving local club scene tournaments. From under-9s to under-12s, Ricky captained his team from scrum-half. Frequently, Ricky would be asked to play for the more senior teams, where the one-year age difference meant a huge difference in physical size.
The Uddingston Rugby Club senior team was formed in 1906 and is one of the Scottish Rugby Union's oldest clubs. On the 1st of September 1985 the club celebrated the opening of a new pitch at Bothwell Castle Policies with a fixture between an Uddingston President's XV and the Co-optimists. The President's XV included Scottish Internationalist John Beattie (who later interviewed Ricky on his BBC Radio show), while the Co-optimists were lead by Scottish Grand Slam hooker Colin Deans and including Mike DeBusk (Boroughmuir & Edinburgh) and Jim Calder, Scotland's Grand Slam captain. The final score of 54 - 17 to the Co-optimists was no disgrace given the quality of the opposition.
However, during the period 1986 - 1989, while Ricky was learning the game, Uddingston were plying their trade in the Glasgow District Leagues. Ricky's team, coached by Duncan Sooman, was formed from a core of players from Muiredge Primary School in Uddingston. This group over-achieved to a remarkable extent. They dominated the mini rugby scene of Lanarkshire. Their regular opposition was local clubs, such as Cambuslang, East Kilbride, Dalziel, Hamilton and Allan Glens, all of whose senior teams played at a much higher level than Uddingston.
The team's success earned them tournament invites from Clarkston, Glasgow Accies and Whitecraigs due to their achievements and scored many notable victories, including a memorable victory over Glasgow Accies in the semi-final of their own tournament at New Anniesland. This led to a final match against West of Scotland RFC, who included future Scotland internationalist James Craig in their ranks. His pace proved decisive and Uddingston were beaten 4-1. Over the course of 3 seasons, the only side Uddingston failed to beat was West of Scotland. However, they had demonstrated an amazing ability to at a level well above their 'rightful' position.
Further afield, Uddingston were invited to tournaments in the Borders, to coincide with senior 7s tournaments. For Ricky, these trips were the highlight of his fledgling rugby career. Although he suffered from terrible travel sickness, Uddingston defeated the mighty border clubs Jed-Forest and Gala. Ricky's opposite man against Jed was Clark Laidlaw, son of the legendary Scottish scrum-half Roy, who coached the Jed team. Ricky would later play against Clark again for Glasgow Hawks RFC in Premier 1.
Having the opportunity to play against these high-profile, successful clubs and to watch the 7s action had a huge impact on Ricky.
Often, the club would send a bus or two through to Muurrayfield Stadium for Scotland international mathes. Immersed in the roars of 70,000 passionate Scots, Ricky would dream about one day running out on the Murrayfield turf. One day, Scott Hastings paid a visit to Uddingston RFC mini rugby section to deliver some coaching. He was a big hero to Ricky - incredibly, 13 seasons later, Ricky and Scott were matched against each other as Glasgow Hawks defeated Watsonians RFC at Old Anniesland in a league match. Ricky was fortunate to also play against his other Grand Slam heroes Craig Chalmers (now coaching Melrose RFC) and Gary Armstrong.
Ricky's rugby career foundered somewhat as Uddingston were unable to field a regular "midi" (under-15) side. By now, Ricky had left Muiredge Primary and started secondary school at Uddingston Grammar. Rugby was not offered by the school and the teaching environment was less than optimal. Ricky's Mum started looking at other options, whereby children who could not afford to go to fee-paying independent schools were provided with free or subsidised places if they were able to score within the top 10-15% of applicants in the school's entrance examination. Ricky sat the entrance exam for The Glasgow Academy at the end of his first senior school year, and was admitted shortly after.
Meanwhile, with rugby finished for the summer, Ricky discovered the joys of cricket. Several of his rugby team-mates also played cricket, and teh team carried their esprit de corps from the rugby pitch onto the cricket field. Although they did not dominate to the same extent as they had at rugby, several team members were honoured with District selection.
The Glasgow Academy was a new world for Ricky and over the course of 5 years he had hi eyes opened to a new world of possibilities. Where before, his horizons had been limited to central Scotland, with the occasional foray south to the border country to play rugby, he was now part of an
Ricky found it hard to adapt to his new life outside of the strict regimens of The Glasgow Academy. He moved through to the east coast to begin his new life as a zoology student at the University of Edinburgh. Non-one from his close family had attended University and it was a huge culture shock. Ricky had always been quite shy and was most comfortable surrounded by people he knew and trusted. Without his usual support systems, Ricky's train derailed - he enjoyed alll aspects of student life apart from the one thing he was there to do. He spent a year living in the Halls of Residence but dropped out at the end of the year. During this time, he had given up rugby and only played a couple of social matches for his house. Although he was asked to train with Glasgow District under-19s, his heart wasn't in it and he dropped out of that too.
There were a couple of positives to come out of this period; first, Ricky and a friend volunteered with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme at their old school and they delivered supervised and trained kids in the Scottish Highlands and in the Lake District.
Ricky's love for adventure had started during his early years growing up. However, the major turning point in his life grew out of adversity. While on rugby tour of South Africa with Glasgow Hawks in the summer of 2003, Ricky received a telephone call from a partner in his accounting firm, who had initially recruited him 2 years before. Ricky was waiting for the results of is professional exam re-sits; the Institute of Chartered Accountants require that you sit and pass alll 4 professional technical exams at the same sitting and also that you achieve a certain average grade across all exams. Ricky had failed to achieve that grade on his first attempt and the pressure had been on during his second attempt. He was asked to see the Partner when he returned to the UK. This could only mean one thing; he would be made redundant in line with the firm's policy.
Back in the UK, Ricky was aced was a tough situation; he had failed his tax exam and would be forced to try to find another firm willing to take him on and transfer his training contract. Two months after his redundancy, Ricky had failed to find a firm to take him on and with so much time on his hands he needed something to burn up his nervous energy. He saw an advert in the newspaper about 4 Glaswegians who had entered the Jungle Marathon. This event involved running for a week through the Amazon rainforest. It appealed to Ricky's adventurous nature and he planned to apply. Sadly, registration was closed, but Ricky had discovered another, more challenging event; the world-famous Marthon des Sables (MdS). The MdS requires competitors to run 243km/151 miles over 6 or 7 days - equivalent to 5.5 regular marathons. Competitors have to carry everything they will need for the week on their backs in a rucksack (food, clothes, medical kit, sleeping bag etc). The only exception is a tent, since competitors sleep in coummnal tents at each campsite. Water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint. Competitors must also prepare their own food and must carry a minimum of 2,000 kcal per day. Mid-day temperatures of up to 120°F are common. the terrain varies from uneven rocky, stony ground to dry lake beds as well as the feared sand dunes. Ricky thought about it for a moment, then signed up.
The event was due to take place just 6 months after Ricky registered; he now had to find a job, train for the world's toughest race, raise sponsorship to cover the cost and continue to play rugby for Glasgow Hawks. You can find out how he did here.
Since mid-2009, Ricky has been deployed on humanitarian missions in South Darfur and Khartoum (both Sudan), Bangladesh and Pakistan. During the short breaks between missions, Ricky had planned and carried out 2 major expeditions to New Guinea. Ricky is fully aware of the risk of burnout that staff working in humanitarian aid face. Staff in the field are normally given little time off, and are normally compensated with Rest & Recovery (R&R) days in the nearest 'safe' town or country. However, it's often impractical to take this time off. The demands of working in humanitarian aid are great. He has witnessed colleagues' personal lives and professional judgement suffer due to overwork and the transient nature of expat life. When he's on mission, Ricky makes sure to keep in close touch with friends & family and to focus on his expeditions during his limited free time. With this in mind, following his last expedition in November 2011, Ricky decided to take some time out to study web design on Vancouver Island and focus on his personal life. Ricky is currently planning to incorporate a web design/SEO company. In addition, he plans to launch his own commercial expeditions from mid-2013. Ricky wil attempt to climb Denali's West Buttress in April/May 2012; beyond that he plans to climb the Triple Seven Summits.