Fadi Hachicho’s story is one that many of us dream about, but few of us are brave enough to make the change from dream to reality. The Columbia brand ambassador was bold enough to turn his passion into a way of life, and is now lucky enough to be working in the great outdoors, with support from his partnership with global super-brand, Columbia, as his full time job.
Fadi began as an adventure blogger before requests from friends gave him the incentive to establish his own outdoor club, taking small groups of people on adventure filled weekends in the deserts and mountains of the UAE and Oman. In August 2015, Fadi quit his job in the corporate world and travelled to Alaska to embrace the outdoors instead. There, he joined an outdoor leadership school and spent two months in the wilderness before eventually qualifying as a certified guide specialising in mountaineering, rock climbing and ice climbing. Upon his return to the UAE, Fadi’s outdoor club was transformed into Adventurati Outdoor, a licensed tour company focusing on trekking, canyoning and climbing. The business continues to go from strength to strength, and has many exciting trips planned for the upcoming season.
We got together with Fadi to discuss all things outdoors, and to find out how his partnership with Columbia helps to enhance his expeditions.
What is it that draws you to the outdoors? Is it something that you have always enjoyed?
I have always been into the outdoors. It was a part of my upbringing, as my father was old-school and made sure I was raised to enjoy and respect nature. We always had family camps and once I was old enough my father signed me up for Scouts which was a big part of my teenage years. Like most people, I then got busy with life, but after I came back here to the UAE I wanted to explore more than just the city boundaries, so I started going out on desert camps and into the mountains. I realised that the UAE has so much more to offer than it first appears, and so I got into hiking, rock climbing and canyoning. From there I found that what originally started as an interest became a passion, and then evolved into an obsession!
What is your favourite outdoor activity?
Canyoning, because it provides a little bit of everything from a range of activities. For example, it involves abseiling, as well as the fun part of jumping in water pools. It also incorporates hiking and bouldering. It’s a mixture of so many outdoor activities, and they are all great fun!
What made you decide to be a brand ambassador for Columbia?
Columbia for me is a brand that reaches out to everybody who is into the outdoors. The brand provides comfortable apparel that makes outdoor living much easier. Even before I was a Columbia brand ambassador, I frequently used Columbia gear because it’s a brand I know and trust, plus it’s built tough enough to last throughout all of my expeditions, both in the UAE and beyond.
How does Columbia gear help to enhance your experiences?
Columbia provides comfortable and durable apparel. I’m really fond of their t-shirts and tops that are made from lightweight, quick drying material. This is particularly relevant when you consider the heat and humidity here, as well as the desert and mountainous environment that we are so fortunate to have right on our doorstep in the UAE.
What are your Columbia essentials that you recommend to everyone?
I believe that the most important pieces of equipment when going out on an adventure such as a hike, are the Columbia high ankle boots, the dry fast shirt and the backpacks with waist and shoulder straps. These help to provide a comfortable experience, so that you can focus on your goal and the challenge ahead of you, rather than being annoyed by the lack of good quality gear.
Columbia’s slogan is ‘Tested Tough’. How do you think this encapsulates both the gear you use, and you as an explorer?
‘Tested Tough’ is not just a slogan for a brand; it’s a lifestyle. The outdoors is all about this lifestyle and being out in nature, surrounded by the wilderness, and setting off on a path, both physically and mentally. On this path, we are inevitably going to face a lot of challenges. To overcome these obstacles, we need to have the will, the ability and the endurance to keep on going to reach our goal. ‘Tested Tough’ for me is all about being there on that path and reaching my goal, and being able to say, “I’ve been tested, it’s been tough, yet I’ve still achieved.”
What is your most memorable expedition and why?
In my recent career in the outdoor world, I’ve had two memorable experiences that have shaped both the way I live and the future I ultimately chose for myself. The first one is when I climbed Mount. Kilimanjaro, which was where I realised that dreams do come true and made the decision that from that point on I wanted to follow my dream and make a living out of it.
My second trip, which also had a great impact on me, was when I visited Alaska. There, I signed up for an outdoor leadership school, and at that point, my dream became a reality. It evolved from being something that I longed for; it became my everyday. From then on, I’ve been living that dream.
Do you have any exciting trips planned?
Yes definitely! Just after new year I will be guiding two special expeditions catered for all those who have joined our trips within UAE and Oman and looking to challenge themselves on more demanding and difficult routes. In May we will be traveling to Nepal in an attempt to successfully trek to Everest Base Camp at 5,380m and in April another challenge in an attempt to successfully trek to Annapurna Base Camp at 4,130m. A popular trip of which you get to experience the natural beauty and the warm and welcoming hearts of the Nepali people.
Talk us through a day in the life of a Columbia brand ambassador…
A day in the life of a Columbia brand ambassador is not really any different to the life of any individual who is keen and passionate about the outdoors. However, I do consider myself to be incredibly lucky to have a brand like Columbia that is there to support me on my journey to reach out to different people of various backgrounds, helping me to inspire them to get out there and enjoy nature.
Words by: Rachael Bruford
Photos by: Daniel Birkhofer