In August of 2023, we welcomed Annéne to the WILD AIR team as our Digital Media Manager. Now, being a business that plays in the sports, adventure and outdoor world, we needed to find someone who not only met the qualification requirements of a digital media manager but also lived that lifestyle too!
In meeting up with Annéne for her interview, I soon realized that she would be a perfect addition to our team and the rest is history!
So, let’s get this party started!
Kicking off with a bit of background on you. Where did you grow up and how would you describe your approach to life?
I grew up in Pretoria, a proper city girl. I remembered being extremely upset during my first hike in the Drakensberg mountains at 11 or 12 years old and couldn’t believe my parents would punish me like that. Amazing how much that has changed now.
I come from a family of adventurers so following in those footsteps was somewhat inevitable. I discovered my true love for mountains, exploring and the outdoors during my time at Stellenbosch University. It is a love that is continuously growing as I expand my interests in trying out more adventure sports such as freediving and most recently, surfing.
I would say my approach to life is to make every moment count and to fill up my free time with as many outdoor activities as possible. Hanging out with friends usually involves a trail run, hike or ocean activity. There’s so much to do and see and we’ve got limited time so it’s important to make the most of what we’ve got and to tick off those adventures that we dream about!
Where did the passion for adventure sports begin and what does it look like now for you?
As mentioned before, I truly discovered mountains and how much joy they bring during my studies at Stellenbosch University.
I first got into hiking, and hiking is still a major passion of mine, however over the last few years I have turned my attention towards trail running and I am OBSESSED. I am currently training to run my first trail marathon and now that I’ve incorporated 5 hour long ‘long runs’ into my weekly routine, I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
Running allows you to cover bigger distances in a shorter time which allows you the opportunity to explore even more! I now use my runs to try to spot gems around the mountain and then I will go back on a hike with my camera to fulfill my other passion (landscape and adventure photography).
During my recovery weeks, you can most likely find me in the ocean learning how to surf or looking for shy sharks on my dives!
What has been one of your top adventure experiences / trips to date and what is next on your bucket list?
My top experience was summiting Mt Fuji in Japan. I lived in Japan for a little while and summiting the highest mountain was an absolute “must-do” for me.
The period when you can summit with overnight huts open are quite small and extremely busy so after doing some research I learned that going just before or just after the season is the best time to avoid the biggest crowds, the only issue is that you would have to do it in one go. But to me this meant that it would be a proper adventure and that got me super stoked.
I planned a trip for myself and a few friends. We flew out from Kagoshima (the city we called home) to Tokyo after work on a Friday afternoon. We then rented a car and started the journey to the trail head. It was peak traffic time so it took us 5 or 6 hours to get there.
Once we arrived it was time to take a nap because at 11pm we were going to embark on our journey to summit for sunrise (you don’t have to reach the summit for sunrise, but we really wanted to watch the sunrise from the top of Mt Fuji so that is what we did). The hike was long and we started out a bit slower than expected, but we made it just below the summit and watched the sunrise underneath a shrine. Truly spectacular!
Thereafter, we spent some time at the summit before sliding down the mountain. It being a volcano meant there were a lot of loose rocks / sands around it so it really was easier to “ski” down than to hike, although this was really horrible for ITB issues.
We camped next to a lake that evening overlooking Mt Fuji before flying back home on Sunday. The best not-so-micro-micro adventure I’ve ever been on. It’s not every day you find people willing to travel 7 hours each way to hike throughout the night with you lol.
If you could have a week to hike with anyone in the world, anywhere in the world, who would it be and where would it be?
Jimmy Chin in New Zealand. Jimmy Chin is one of my all time heroes and New Zealand is the top country on my list of places to explore. Jimmy being a professional adventurer and at the same time one of the best adventure photographers and adventure film directors out there is truly an inspiration for someone like me. I would love to see him in action. I can’t even imagine how much you can learn from someone like him.
When you aren’t out in the mountains, what are you up to?
When I’m not in the mountains, I’m in the ocean.
But other than sports; I enjoy camping trips, going away with friends, dancing and watching documentaries.
Any words for people thinking of getting into adventure sports and exploring their local area?
Just start! There are multiple groups that you can join. These groups usually cater for people at most levels. It is also a great way to meet people with similar interests and at a similar pace and level to you. It gives you the opportunity to make plans to go hike / run / surf on days that there aren’t organized groups going out.
And also, explore your local area! A lot of locals are quick to jump on a plane to go explore across the sea but we seriously have some of the best best best spots right here on our doorsteps waiting to be explored.
See, I told you that she has a zest for adventure life! You can expect to see a lot more of Annéne’s work published across our WILD AIR network of channels as she grows within her role. Give her a follow on @adventure_annene on IG.