Daniel Hughes is best known for his achievement of becoming the first person to make a live video broadcast from the summit of Mt Everest in 2013. In an attempt to raise £1 million pounds for impoverished South American children through the UK's Comic Relief, he reached the peak of Mt Everest, the highest mountain on Earth, and gave a live video interview for the BBC.
Imagine cycling to the top of a 3000m mountain in South America, along a steep, 29 km (18 mi) trail featuring 58 switchbacks as it winds its way sharply upwards. This is what cycling climbs – in this case, Valle Nevado in Chile – are all about, and for most of us, the mere thought is terrifying enough to put us off.
Yet for Daniel Hughes, British adventurer and content creator, this is neither terrifying nor off-putting. Quite the contrary: he has dedicated himself to finding, completing, documenting, and showcasing the best cycling climbs in the world. To this end, he has traveled all over the globe to create Epic Cols – an online archive of his travels, which can be used as a guidebook, a source of inspiration, or looked upon as a work of art.
Epic Cols features more than two dozen climbs like Valle Nevado, complete with stunning imagery produced by Hughes himself. It's considered to be the most significant cycling collection in the world, and it's certainly the most ambitious project ever embarked upon in its niche.
This is by no means his first great adventure, however. Daniel Hughes has always pushed himself beyond limitations is evident from his life story and achievements.
As he himself puts it, he suffered enormous adversity during his school years, leading to introversion and low self-esteem. In his opinion, joining the military was the event that turned his life around and led to him becoming as successful as he is today.
"I owe everything to the military," he says. "At the university, I flew with the air force and then spent 7 years serving as a reservist in the Army". At only 23 years old, he became a member of SAS – the Special Air Service of the British Special Forces. This is no mean feat: the five-week selection process is infamous for its back-breaking difficulty, requiring incredible physical and mental strength to successfully complete. This is not to mention that Hughes was one of the youngest soldiers to make it into SAS.
He followed this success with a series of others, including climbing Mt Everest – which brought him international fame, as he became the first person to make a live video broadcast from the summit of the highest mountain on Earth. Done as part of an effort to raise funds for Comic Relief, the feat brought Daniel Hughes into the international spotlight.
Since then, he has built an impressive portfolio of other high-profile achievements. Alongside publishing Epic Cols in 2020, these include representing Great Britain in two ITU Duathlon Championships (2014-15) and coming in eighth both times, as well racing for a US Pro Race, becoming a certified Boeing 787 Dreamliner pilot, and gaining OFQUAL 4 Accreditation and OFQUAL 5 Award for Chief Pilots.
Among his other pursuits, Daniel is a speaker on the UK's Leading Authorities, focusing on leadership and decision making in high-pressure situations. Regarding overcoming obstacles, his advice is that once we've conquered our physical and mental limits, we can completely reset the boundaries of what we believed possible.