September 23, 2022 8 min read
Tristan has been a friend of the brand and ours for many years now and will be a familiar face to many of you as he features frequently in our photography. Since retiring from playing professional Ice Hockey, Tristan has turned his love of the outdoors into a career (well several careers) as a mountain guide, photographer more recently a stone carver. His passion for exploration, Scotland and conservation makes him a perfect fit for our brand an everything we stand for, so we couldn’t be prouder to have him as an ambassador.
You had quite a big career change from a professional ice-hockey player to a mountain guide and photographer. Can you tell us a bit more about your career and what drew you to work outdoors?
My Professional Ice Hockey Career was really great, filled with many highs and lows and lots of life lessons equally getting to play in amazing places throughout Canada, America and Europe meeting many different people from all walks of life some that l’m still very close with today. I knew in my last years of Ice hockey about 5 years ago that it was coming to an end, l could feel in my heart that a change was coming and naturally l was finding myself gravitating more towards the outdoors, somewhat of a calling you could say. It’s one of those things that when you’re in a certain industry you tend to look up to people and aspire to be like them continuing a similar path. As the outdoors started to take hold of me l started to enjoy being in the presence of fellow outdoor enthusiasts, hearing their stories and the different challenges they had faced. I equally wanted and felt the calling to go down this path as it felt right to do so. I gradually made the leap at the end of my last professional hockey season with the intention to become an experienced outdoor explorer who could one day guide and lead people in the Scottish Highlands sharing with them my passion for the outdoors giving them the confidence to follow their own path. While this was unfolding for me l had an interest in learning photography, l had certain visions in my head how l saw and connected with the land so in return l took baby steps learning the basics of photography slowly learning my way to becoming a skilled photographer capturing unique moments l found myself in, in the Scottish Highlands and further afield.
We’re all huge fans of your photography. Did photography or mountain guiding come first/when did you first get into photography?
Mountain Guiding came first even though there has always been a fond attraction of beautiful photography l have seen throughout my years of growing up.
You photograph everything from wildlife, stunning landscapes, and astrophotography. Which would you say is your favourite subject to photograph?
There is so many different approaches to this and challenges in their own unique way, all these different styles of photographing these subjects touch on a favourite of mine. With wildlife photography there is something very special about being in that exact moment when you may witness something that no one ever sees, it forces you to be completely present and patient. Then with landscapes it can change so much depending on which season you’re in, with the likes of different colours, textures, how the light plays on elements of the land and even how it
makes you feel which may invoke a certain part within that may encourage a different creative outlook. Then with astrophotography this always seems to amaze me, it’s one of those things that constantly invokes that awe element. You could be taking a simple shot of the night sky and boom you will capture a shooting star which that in itself is a gift because you could have been the only one to witness that or maybe even think to self who else saw that and how did it make them feel. Overall l would have to say all these styles of photographing are special for me in their own unique way, it’s the love of being in that constant element of unknown filled with surprises or as l like to say wee gifts.
Being a Scottish mountain guide you must have been to some spectacular places. What’s some of the most remote /amazing places that you’ve been to in Scotland?
The never-ending exploring of places in Scotland is a journey lm still on, but if l was to name a few places l would have to say Knoydart is absolutely epic. Probably some of the finest Mountains you can find in Scotland and most likely some of the most remote, it’s a wonderful place to go stargazing and properly feel secluded considering Scotland is quite a small country. Another favourite of mine is Assynt, extremely dramatic and has a great feel about it, lots of small lochs and hidden waterfalls complimented with lovely natural formations darted all over the land. Another would have to be Torridon, a must for anyone who wants to experience some epic Mountains on the mainland that are a little more accessible than Knoydart and areas of Assynt.
What tips would you give to someone new to mountain climbing in Scotland?
Start small, don’t think about tackling the biggest Mountains right away, maybe book yourself on a course, ask some friends if they fancy joining you on a walk and stick to the more common popular routes if you are unsure where to start, as these routes are all well sign posted and will have fellow walkers out who you can always ask if you feel lost. You can easily find the popular routes with a quick search online. Maybe think about doing some shorter hikes and getting a feel for the terrain before tackling climbing right away, get yourself to the local climbing gym and get a feel for what it’s like to climb. There is no rush, this is your journey and it’s all about going at your pace until you feel the calling to push yourself a little harder. The outdoor industry is a supportive one and before you know it l’m sure you will start to meet fellow outdoor enthusiast who are maybe on the same path. It’s an exciting journey, yes it can be intimidating but don’t let that put you off, it’s all about making those baby steps and gaining that inner confidence, you got this.
We often see your 4 legged companion, Nacho out with you on your adventures! Does he enjoy life in the Scottish mountains?
Nacho, or Sir Nacho as l like to call him due to how he presents himself on the Mountains. He is like the dog version of me, he tends to go everywhere with me when l’m working guiding and exploring unless l’m doing more technical routes involving ropes when l need to constantly be on guard for the clients safety. A brief background about Nacho, l rescued him from the nasty dog meat trade in South Korea so you can imagine what that was like, he had mega PTSD and a few underlying health conditions but since he has been with me his confidence has grown like no other and a big part of this is because of his time spent outdoors and gaining the confidence to be an independent Mountain dog. I would say he loves the Mountains from how he is when we are exploring but l know he equally enjoys his rest when we have long mountain days, then again l think we all like our comforts after challenging days on the Mountains. Regardless he is always smiling when we are heading for the hills.
You're clearly passionate about your environmental footprint. Do you have any tips to share on exploring without making a negative impact?
We are part of this earth and yes absolutely passionate about my environmental footprint, my biggest and most simplest tip is educating yourself about the flora and fauna that you walk on even on a micro scale which will in return give some insight into why it’s important we tread lightly, how we move about when exploring in natural landscapes and how beneficial everything is in supporting the network that makes this wonderful planet thrive. If you truly care, you will make the effort and allow time to educate yourself. So next time maybe think about that moss you’re walking on and how beneficial it is for the environment.
You’ve recently taken up stone carving, can you tell us more about it?
Would love to, when l lived in Canada l did a lot of soapstone carving and again it was one of those things much like leaving hockey having a calling to venture into the outdoors l had a similar feeling in relation to stone carving, at the end of the last lockdown l made a commitment to book myself on a stone carving course which then led me into becoming a stone carving apprentice working under my Mentor David McGovern at Monikie Rock Art who specialise in Medieval and Pictish Carving. It’s been just over a year into my apprenticeship and l have been lucky enough to work with David on some big projects ranging from 6ft stones weighing 2 tonnes to currently working on a 7 foot stone weighing just under a tonne which will be a replica of the Conan Bridge Pictish Stone, and been fortunate enough to have clients wanting to buy my own personal carvings and commissioned work. Overall, it’s one of those things keeping a traditional skill alive and following things that l feel a calling to
Are there any other passions you have that we don’t know about?
l feel it’s important to keep challenging oneself mentally and physically. One passion that l’m currently following through on is Sky Running, high level mountain running up or exceeding 2,000m. I will be competing in the Glencoe Sky Run doing the Ring of Steall on 17th September, almost a test to see how l do and feel at the end. This will be the first highly competitive thing l have signed up for since leaving my professional Ice Hockey days, l would be lying if l didn’t say l am feeling quite nervous and intimidated by it.
When you’re not mountain guiding, exploring, working or stone carving, what do you like to do to unwind?
Sometimes very difficult for me to switch off but when l enjoy hanging with friends, reading a good book, nature bathing, meditating, watching a good tv show or movie and relaxed walks. Reminding myself it’s okay to chill and do nothing which isn’t always the easiest.
What’s next for Tristan, do you have any bucket list adventures that you would like to try?
I have a few things happening, heading over to Canada and Nepal for some climbing and hoping to get into Paragliding so l can eventually do it solo. I have lots on the bucket list, but right now taking one step at a time and focusing on time building on relationships this year with friend’s and family while including the things l’m currently doing.
Thanks so much for the chat Tristan! You can follow along on Tristans adventures on his instagramhere.
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