I went to Legoland when I was about ten and had to be pretty much dragged away from the climbing tower there so my mum sent me to our local bouldering wall. I’m lucky really because I grew up on a fairly remote farm but the local village had a council run wall called Upper Limits. It was very basic but I loved the place and I was always there when from then on. I ended up coaching the kids team there of whom some were very successful in competitions at national level. We’d also go to train at Sheffield or Manchester and on rock when the weather was nice. Upper Limits has now been moved and they’re trying to shut it down.
Tell us about your local climbing spots and the people you regularly climb with
When I’m at university in Newcastle I occasionally go to the bouldering wall and boulder with friends. Occasionally We will venture to Sunderland climbing wall. I haven’t had much experience on the rock in that area. If I’m at home I climb with anyone I know who is in the peaks at that time. Some of my friends boulder around grit others trad climb and I just join in with their endeavors. There are loads of gritstone crags within a short drive of my house. My favourites are the roaches, stanage and Burbage. If I can get my mum to spare some time to belay me then we’ll go to harpur hill quarry for sport which is a mile or two on the quadbike from our farm.
My relationship with climbing has changed. When I started it was because it was so fun and natural, a way of escaping stresses at school and releasing energy. Then I got the competition bug a bit and enjoyed getting fit and strong. When I was 16 I broke my leg very badly and climbing after that was frustrating mostly but I enjoyed being with friends and outdoors. Now I use it as a reason to travel and have adventure.
To stay safe and keep having fun. I’ve been sponsored by the british army through my studies for four years now and the military has given me lots of climbing opportunities. Expeditions in the UK and abroad and also with the army and tri-service competition climbing teams. I hope to do a lot of outdoor instruction in my career.
Tonsai! It’s amazing! The atmosphere is so relaxed and I love having a crag on the beach. The stalactites make the climbing so interesting and different and the landscape is beautiful.
This is a hard question. One climb I really remember is called The File on Higgar Tor. It’s only VS 4c but it taught me how to jam in drizzling rain! I think everyone should do it but I’m not getting on it again. Luckily I could wash the blood off my hands in the puddles on the top.
I enjoy orienteering and cycling at the moment. I’m really keen to get into triathlons if I can find time. I do a bit of yoga.
My best memory is from the 2008 BLCCs (British lead climbing competition). It was the my 16th birthday on the Saturday and because the junior comp was on my birthday and the senior one on the Sunday I could’ve done both but I decided to just do the senior one and see how it went. It was at Blackpool wall which is outside so you get the exposure and weather. It’s a great wall. I came out of isolation for the final and was having a last look at the route. Then one of the judges shouted at me because you only have 45seconds after isolation before you have to pull onto the wall. ‘you need to get on the wall!’, so I sprinted to the wall and jumped on the climb. I got totally absorbed in the climb and seemed to carry the momentum of my sprint into the climbing before I pumped out. I placed second that day which was unexpected. I was really chuffed.
I don’t have the head for trad but I love long multipitch climbs on trad. I love the freedom. I love sport for the pure physical aspect of climbing. I’m not really a boulderer but everyone seems to be doing that these days so I’m sucked into it.