Interviews

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Climbers Against Cancer aim to increase awareness and raise funds for research in the continued fight against a disease that affects so many. Climbers Against Cancer is a non profit organisation, with all proceeds donated directly to cancer research facilities throughout the world.

Funds are raised through the sale of CAC t-shirts, hoodies and more via the website. Many fundraising events have taken place around the world with supporters selling the charity garments, climbing the height of famous mountains at their local walls/gyms, running marathons and many other interesting initiatives.

In this interview we chat with CAC's Helan Waywell...

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Over the past 12+ years Jon Gupta has organised, climbed, guided and summited mountains on over 80+ major expeditions all over the world – including organising and leading the current world speed record for the 7 summits! In 2017 alone, he guided Everest, lead the first team ever to finish the Yukon Arctic Ultra 430 mile race, set a new British speed record on Kilimanjaro of 8hrs 11mins and ran around the iconic Bob Graham Round in 22hrs 28 mins - A very accomplished mountaineer who enjoys using his knowledge to help others acheive their mountaineering goals through his company Mountain Expeditions and jongupta.com

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Hannah Baldwin is a two-times World Paraclimbing Champion. Since suffering from Crohns Disease from a young age, Hannah has found climbing to give her purpose and direction, and in recent years has enjoyed success in both competitions and on outdoor routes. Hannah reflects on being part of the GB Paraclimbing Team, dealing with her illness and her goals.

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Raphael Slawinski is a world-class Canadian alpinist with a penchant for humility, difficulty, and limestone choss. Raphael has established some of the hardest mixed and ice lines in the world, opened new alpine routes in Pakistan, and consistently avoids hyping or generously grading his achievements. He often climbs in the Canadian Rockies, which is notorious for its loose ('chossy') limestone, but when he climbs he demonstrates many years of experience. He works as a Physics Professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary and will probably dislike the tag, 'world-class choss master.'

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18-year-old Hamish Mcarthur is part of the up-and-coming generation of strong British climbers. Mixing indoor competitions with bouldering and sport outside, Hamish has worked through classic blocs and routes in his trademark quick time. In 2019, Hamish placed 2nd in the Youth World Championships and in January 2020 climbed two 8c+/9a routes in Spain, illustrating his skills after putting so much effort into indoor training.

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Steve Long is a climber, IFMGA Mountain Guide and President of the UIAA's (International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation) Training Panel. Based in North Wales, he still climbs and puts up new routes. In this interview, we hear some of Steve's highlights in climbing, as well as a few entertaining adventures and mishaps.

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Leo Skinner is a young gun emerging onto the British bouldering scene, with strong repeats of blocs up to Font 8B. Originally from South Wales, Leo often trains at the Llangorse climbing wall and competes for Team GB. With several hard problems and a few trips to Europe under his belt already, we'd say, 'watch this space...'

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Alex Hallam enjoys climbing. For him, the emphasis is having fun with good friends and going to exciting places, where there's a chance for an unexpected adventure. Someone will probably fall in the sea, there will be discomfort, and off-widths may be sought out (and climbed in shorts). There's a tendency for the modern climber to believe it's all about grades, training and sponsorships, but Alex represents a great number of people who go outside and rock climb simply because it's fun. The performance and numbers don't really matter, and instead it's more entertaining to spend a week in Font doing some bouldering but also eating 'Rice and Chicken and Yam' every night, whilst occasionally burning off/being burnt off by your mates. Alex works long stints as an Engineer at sea. 

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Lukasz Warzecha is one of the leading photographer and videographers in the UK, specialising in adventure and the outdoors. His company, LW Images, says, 'we believe in the power of non-fiction visual story telling.' His clients include National Geographic, WL Gore, The North Face, Petzl, Black Diamond, Mountain Equipment, John Muir Trust, Icelandic Mountain Guides, Ordnance Survey... and many others! Lukasz has also been Director of Photography for Epic Trails, a TV series focusing on wilderness adventure. From scuba to sailing, and from climbing to cycling, Lukasz has been busy...

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At the core of Britain's trad climbing heart is adventure - particularly in the mountains or above the sea. Of the many people operating during the golden era of discovery and new routes in the 1970s and '80s, one name comes up time and again: Pat Littlejohn. He's climbed an incredible amount of these adventurous, wild, and impressive routes, picking off plums for all to enjoy. His routes ooze high quality and good style - or at least, the occasionally loose rock oozes between your fingertips! Despite new routes (onsight and up to E7) from around the world, this interview focuses on the UK (it's easier to recount just one aspect of Pat's climbing life!). Nowadays, Pat climbs closer to home and sits on the board of the British Mountaineering Council's International Committee.

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Charlie Woodburn is one of the coolest climbers we can think of. He onsights wild routes. His headpoints are impressive. He films - and has flown in helicopters - for a job. He seems content to quietly go to cool places, and do cool things. Charlie also has a severe form of chronic arthritis, which means he's had the extra perspective of just being psyched to walk around in good health. Read on...

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Rhoslyn Frugtniet is a strong climber based in Bristol, who's quietly been ticking her way through classic routes and competing to a high standard on the international circuit. She's part of the rise of young competition climbers who've taken their skills outside, and occasional (revealing) news reports will pop up: '8a+ flash at Ceuse.' Chalkbloc interviewed Rhoslyn during the COVID-19 lockdown, and it sounds like she's coping just fine...

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Dave Pickford climbs, writes, and documents his travels. In climbing, Dave has established trad and sport first ascents, often adventurous and above the sea, up to E8. He’s also climbed 8b+, V11, and many 6000 metre peaks in the Greater Ranges. To date he’s climbed in more than sixty countries worldwide. Dave is a writer and editor by profession, and likes to drive very, very fast cars.

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Greg Boswell has pushed standards in Scottish winter climbing for many years - from onsight first ascents of grade X, 10, to exploring lesser-known cliffs like An Teallach. Greg's famously dedicated to training, and for a while it appeared he only climbed in winter - a true enthusiast! In recent years, Greg's also visited more remote locations like Senja and Lofoten in Norway, and the Buckskin Glacier in Alaska.

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Anna Taylor is a 21-year-old climber based in the Lake District, who's been making waves with her repeats of high-end trad routes. She's also recently returned from South America, where, together with Leo Houlding and team, she established The Great Northern Prow (E6 6c, 500m).

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Adam Lincoln is a climber and Rope Access technician, based near Preston, England. In his 30-year climbing career, he's travelled the world and ticked many classic UK sport routes. It's worth mentioning his job because it's allowed him to live this lifestyle. His stomping ground is the Yorkshire limestone, with Maham and Kilnsey relatively nearby. Chalkbloc caught up with Adam during his six-month climbing trip in Spain...

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Ramon Marin is originally from Catalonia, but now lives and works in London as a designer. He's climbed - and excelled - in many disciplines, from trad to sport to ice to mixed to dry tooling. His psyched attitude and genuine enthusiasm make him a real stand-out character of the UK climbing scene, and you'll consistently find him driving from London for a weekend's action, be it on the sport cliffs of Portland or trad sea-cliffs of Pembroke, for example. Read on to hear about Ramon's adventures.

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Franco Cookson is well-known for his bold, technical first ascents, predominately in the North York Moors. He's recently published a new guidebook to the area, and, whilst pushing standards, has been pushing the 'H' grading system, which gives specific grades for headpointed ascents (trad routes climbed after practice). Franco also had a bit of a reputation for his online comments, but that's all behind him now...

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Tom Ripley is an all-round climber based in Sheffield. Over many years, Tom's climbed many classic routes around the world, and has an impressive encyclopaedic knowledge of climbing. He's established a new route in Patagonia, and is part of the British Mountain Guides trainee scheme.

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According to his bio at The Guardian, 'Ed Douglas is a writer and journalist with a passion for the wilder corners of the natural world.' The climbing fraternity know him as a Himalayan climber, the editor of the Alpine Journal, a climbing writer (or a writing climber?), and former editor of On The Edge magazine.

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Tim Howell is a BASE jumper and climber. BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span and Earth, and represents the different objects you can jump from. Tim left the Royal Marines and decided to continue his 'North BASE' project - an idea of climbing and jumping the six classic North faces of the Alps (Grandes Jorasses, Piz Badile, Matterhorn, Eiger, Cima Grande di Lavaredo and the Petit Dru). Tim's been part of a new wave of BASE jumpers in the UK, and has opened exits on Ben Nevis and in the Slate quarries of North Wales.

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Dave MacLeod is based in the highlands of Scotland and has developed his skills across a wide range of climbing disciplines to become one of the best all round climbers you'll meet... 8C boulders, 9a sport climbs, E11 trad, XII,12 mixed and 8b+ free solo with first ascents of routes such as Rhapsody, the world’s first E11 trad route, Anubis VII,12 one of the world’s hardest mixed climbs and Echo Wall on Ben Nevis alongside many FAs in Scotland. Dave also completed '24/8' in 2018, one of the hardest all-round climbing challenges around; an 8A boulder, 8a sport route, E8 trad route, VIII,8 winter route and 8 Munros, all in under 24 hours.
Dave's writing and recent Vlog series discuss training and improvement in climbing and his books '9 Out Of 10 Climbers Make The Same Mistakes' and 'Make Or Break' are among the best selling titles worldwide on training and injury prevention in climbing. 

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After our recent interview with Stefan Morris we thought it would make sense to chat to Edmund Morris too! Edmund is based in Pembroke and gives us an insight into climbing in Pembroke while working for YHA along with some local beta on routes.

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Andy Kirkpatrick is one of the best known climbers in the UK with a long history of difficult alpine and big wall routes, often in remote and cold locations. Andy's books range from award winning classics such as Psychovertical and Cold Wars through to instruction manuals on big walling, all are recommended reading.
Here's the interview with Andy chatting to Tom Livingstone...

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Jim Pope is a young and strong climber specialising in sport and competitions - but also dabbling in hard headpoints. From 8c+ sport routes to E9 headpoints and high rankings in comps, Jim is a 20-year-old who shows great potential. He's also interested in the 2024 Olympic Games, and is currently studying Sports Science at university.

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Ben Silvestre was raised in North Yorkshire and first discovered climbing when visiting friends who were studying at Sheffield University. He has applied his skills to winter climbing in Scotland, the Alps, completed a Patagonia season culminating in a three-day ascent of Cerro Fitzroy, made the first ascent of the east face of Jezebel in the Alaskan Revelation mountains, and was part of the first British ascent of the notorious Alaskan testpiece, the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker along with multiple climbs in the UK. Read on for Ben's comments on demons, motivation, Patagonia and social media.

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Malcolm Bass has, for over two decades, been climbing in remote and adventurous places. From Scottish winter to Alaska and India, he seems motivated to explore and push what he knows. Working as a Clinical Psychologist, it's unsurprising that his motivations include both climbing and his mental fortitude. Notable routes include first ascents in the Himalayas: Vasuki Parbat with Paul Figg in 2010, and the first ascent of Janhukot (6805m), made into a film by Pertex. Read on to explore Malcolm's thoughts on high-altitude climbing, his attitude to bailing, and his involvement in the Alpine Club.

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Ed Booth is one of the Shropshire-based climbers who'll turn up at a crag with a friendly 'hello,' climb your brilliant routes, and disappear off again with a cheery wave. He's climbed extensively throughout the UK, but started at his local crag (Nesscliffe) under the watchful eye of Nick Dixon. Understandably, Ed took the local ethics of headpointing and ticked many hard routes around the country, but he's also onsighted to a high level. Now working as a fireman and with a family, Ed's still psyched to drive to Wales or Yorkshire for the day. Ed's brother, Adam, is also a keen climber...

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Hazel Findlay is a professional climber based in North Wales. Amongst thousands of trad and sport routes, she's climbed El Cap four times, including the Pre-Muir Wall (5.13+). One of the pitches involves a technical open-book corner, high on the route. James McHaffie said Hazel's ascent was 'one of the best bits of climbing I've ever seen.' Hazel's also interested in the mental aspects of climbing, and openly talks about the mind, its powers and its limitations. You can find out more or learn from Hazel's coaching courses on her website.

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Stefan Morris is a Pembroke-based climber with a passion for photography. He's climbed extensively, visiting Greenland, Yosemite and Norway in search of high-quality granite. Stefan consistently produces interesting and honest climbing photos. He'll often publish an edited, enhanced photo alongside the original, illustrating an open approach. Climbing photos are rarely perfect to compose (poor lighting conditions, for example), so it's great to see Stefan's psyche for both climbing and photography. 

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Alex Mason is a climber based in North Wales with a knack for finding quality new routes. Most recently, he forced a way through one of the steeper sections of Gogarth's Main Cliff to add Democide (E8/9). After being part of Bangor University's infamous climbing club (the 'BUMS') in 2010, he now works at the Beacon climbing wall, and splits his time between climbing and his family.

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Becky Coles is an expedition and adventure travel specialist who has led expeditions, travelled and climbed on all 7 continents and in over 70 countries, giving her a unique breadth of experience and knowledge.

Becky also has a Geography PhD from the University of Sheffield and is a qualified International Mountain Leader and Mountaineering Instructor (MIC) along with being a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. 

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Simon Verspeak is based in North Wales, and runs an outdoor instructing company called Oranje Bergsport (the name is homage to his Dutch ancestry and means Orange Mountaineering). Simon holds the Mountaineering Instructor Certificate (MIC), the highest level of climbing/mountaineering qualification in the UK. Find out what it's like to be an outdoor instructor both in the UK and abroad, and to work on the local Mountain Rescue Team.

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Calum Muskett started climbing aged 13 in his local area of North Wales. He made quick work of many classic trad routes throughout the grades, and has since established a few new routes of his own. Calum famously onsighted The Cad (E6 6a) aged 14, which is good going! Ever energetic, he's training to become a British Mountain Guide, is finishing a Master's Degree at Bangor University, and takes an active role in issues close to home.

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Louise is only 15 years old, but she's already competing internationally with the GB Youth Climbing Team. A part of the generation of youngsters benefitting from training specific coaching and training, it'll be great to see what the future brings.

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Robbie Phillips applied years of training to climbing big walls in the United States, Chile and Madagascar. He's also climbed a number of multi-pitch routes in the Alps, including Paciencia (8a, Eiger), Project Fear (8c, Cima Grande) and End of Silence (8b+, Berchtesgaden). In between climbing trips, he works as a coach and gives presentations and is based in Scotland.

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Holly Rees has quietly been crushing for several years, but recently made headlines when she climbed Mecca (8b+ at Raven Tor, in the Peak District). ChalkBloc caught up with Holly to find out more.

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Emma Twyford is one of the leading figures in the UK climbing scene. She's consistently been climbing in interesting places, on hard routes of all styles, and also manages to route-set as well. Chalkbloc caught up with Emma as she prepares to battle with The Big Bang (9a) again - and potentially become the first British woman to climb the grade. Good luck!

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It's not an exaggeration to say James McHaffie ('Caff') is one of the most accomplished climbers in the UK. With a dark wit and a keen eye, he's consistently been operating at a high standard across many disciplines - from bold trad to hard sport, from big walls to new boulders. Just read his highlights in the seventh question... In recent years, Caff has become more involved in the BMC Youth Meets and has helped young climbers to learn the skills of the trade. Chalkbloc asked Caff a few questions before the techno party started.

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Ethan Walker has an impressive tick-list of sport and trad routes from around the world. Chalkbloc caught up with Ethan to hear his thoughts on how climbing in the UK compares with the rest of the world...

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Steve McClure should need little introduction. A legend in British climbing, he's established cutting-edge sport routes in the UK, onsighted E8 trad routes, been part of the legendary Petzl Roc Trips, and been cranking since the 80's... all while being part of a family and supposedly 'not strong!' It's all in Steve's book, Beyond Limits.

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David Mason and Mina Leslie-Wujastyk are a couple based in Sheffield, but they've travelled and climbed extensively around the world. Together, they've climbed some impressive - and hard - problems and routes. From flashing Gaia (E8 6c) to Mecca Extension (8c), and from Font to Waterfall Boven, they've certainly been busy. Enjoy the interview.

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Maddy Cope has climbed extensively in the UK, in both sport and trad. She's now cranking out impressive grades (just climbing her second E9 (Prinzip Hoffnung) and her second 8c recently), but still enjoys the simplicity of movement, and the mental aspect of climbing. She was based in Bristol for a while, and has climbed many of the classics in Pembroke.
Tom managed to catch up with her just before her ascent of Prinzip Hoffnung (F8b+/E9/10) 

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Angus Kille has climbed an alarming number of hard, bold trad routes in the U.K. - and 8c sport routes to boot. He's based in Llanberis, North Wales, but has just spent three months in Spain, climbing and coaching in the sunshine. Find out what makes Angus tick through big leads and the headspace required.

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