David Pickford is one of the UK's leading exploratory trad climbers with a wide range of major first ascents to his credit, stretching from his local sea cliffs in southwest England and south Wales to the mountains of Arabia, southeast Asia, India, Madagascar, North Africa, and Norway.
Some of David's significant first ascents in the UK include modern British trad classics such as Point Blank, Daddy Cool and The Brothers Karamazov (all E8) in Pembroke, Wall of Spirits (E8) at Pentire Head, the hardest route on Cornwall's Atlantic Coast, and the still-unrepeated Teahupo'o (E8 7a) at Bosigran, Cornwall. Further afield, along with fellow Scarpa athlete Sam Whittaker, in 2005 David made the first ascent of From Russia With Love (E7 6b, 500m), one of the hardest rock climbs in Kyrgyzstan's Ak Su Valley. In 2011, David established the first ascent of The Lady Of The Lake with Swedish climber Malin Holmberg, one of the most difficult trad routes in Norway's Lofoten Islands.
David has sport climbed to a high level, redpointing up to 8b+ and onsighting up to 8a+. When he was recently asked the impossible question of ‘what are the 3 best sport routes you’ve ever climbed?’ he replied: ‘I can’t choose, but if I really had to they’d be Geminis (8b+) at Rodellar, Spain; Snapdragon (7c+) at Waterval Boven, South Africa; and The Path of Yin (8a+) in the Grampians, Australia.’ He has also bouldered up to V11, and climbed WI6 icefalls in Europe.
In a climbing career spanning more than two decades that’s taken him to five continents, David says that ‘one of the best things about climbing and mountaineering is the way it takes you to some of the wildest and interesting places on Earth. Beyond the challenge of pure athletic performance, the thrill of adventurous travel will always lie at the heart of the climbing life.’
A writer and photo-journalist by profession, David is currently the editor-in-chief of Climb, Britain's leading climbing magazine. He admits that ‘when I’m at work, I’m always looking for a more direct new route from my desk to the office door.’
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