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Interviews

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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) 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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