Erik Vermeulen

Erik Vermeulen


Pretoria, Gauteng


Expeditionist, high altitude mountaineering, hiking

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With an adventure background stretching back to the early 1990’s, Erik is the owner of Xplore, a passionate expedition leader & photographer, as well as a sought-after motivational speaker. He has multiple summits of some of the world’s highest mountains under his belt and has guided a 15-year-old to the summit of Aconcagua. In 2020, he walked 800km in 12 days as expedition leader on the “Battle of the Sports” reality TV series.


Erik - First Ascent


What are some of your most memorable achievements?

Spanning an outdoor career dating back to my high school days in the mid-80s, it’s quite tough to single out some highlights. Doing the Otter trail as a 16-year-old was probably the first highlight. In recent years, guiding a 15-year-old to the summit of Aconcagua has been a highlight. Walking 800km in the 2020 “Battle of the Sports” with some of SA’s biggest sporting heroes was definitely memorable.

What are the ambitions that you are working towards?

For 2023 I’m part of a team entered into the Adventure Racing World Champs. So that will be the focus for the rest of the year and I’m planning a few long through hikes to train for that. I’m also leading a Kili climb in August for some high school pupils and their parents.

I have plans for a few record attempts, but the current global economic climate has put those on hold for a while.

What are some of your top tips?

From a gear perspective, my top tip for expeditions is to go light – and the easiest way to do that is to start with the end in mind and then work backwards. So for a Kili summit, for example, pack your summit day gear first, and then work backwards. Prioritise layering as this gives you more options for varying weather conditions. A good waterproof/windproof jacket like the Vertex will also offer outstanding insulation against wind chill. From a mindset and health perspective, drinking lots of water and having a positive mental attitude is incredibly important.

What is your favourite First Ascent product and why?

It would have be the power-stretch tights (and the new matching top). There is nothing better for a base layer or mid-layer on summit day and here in SA I’ve never been cold when wearing them on hikes or on the bike. Of course, the Transit Down jacket is incredibly versatile and can be paired with anything for both casual and mountain use.