I was brought up on a sheep farm close to Lambourn, but my life took a different direction from the age of fourteen when a new school teacher introduced me to climbing. Then at University in Leeds I was super lucky to run into people like Chris Snell who took me under his wing, and climbing quickly became an integral part of my life.
I also had incredible mentors like Al Powel who taught me a great deal about Scottish winter climbing and expeditions to the Greater Ranges.
I got really into expeditions, the whole journey thing, exploring and developing strong friendships through shared experiences. First Greenland, the Himalayas and then really fell in love with Alaska. I trained to be a IFMGA mountain guide in my mid-twenties and absolutely love my job. It’s so much fun to share your passion with others. These days I’m involved with training the new candidates, and find this equally rewarding and inspiring seeing the new generation of strong alpinists.
Living in the Alps with the changing seasons is so good for never getting stagnant. One minute you’re off ski touring, then it’s ice climbing, trying a new mixed line, bouldering, sunny granite in the alpine, a trail running race,…..
Get to know Jon
Tell us about your successes so far?
A few of my most memorable achievements include:
The first ascent of the North face of Tupilak, in East Greenland via ‘Silence of the Seracs’ ED2 in winter. I was quite young and inexperienced at the time. It was a wild and adventurous climb in the middle of nowhere, frickin cold, and I learnt a huge amount from my partner Alun Powell who is one of the gnarliest human beings ever.
‘Cartwright Connection’ first ascent on the north buttress of Mount Hunter, Alaska with Matt Helliker. The late Jules Cartwright was a true visionary alpinist and he told me about this line. The mixed climbing on this face is some of the best in the world.
Ski alpinism racing has taught me a lot about how to train the mind and body. Highlights are a 23rd place in the Pierra Menta 2010, and 18th in the 2009 European Championships with Carron Scrimgeour. More recently in 2022 with Petter Restorp we completed the first unsupported ski traverse from Chamonix to Zermatt in 23 hours.
My favourite mountain in the world is the Grandes Jorasses and I’ve done 11 routes the north face- only about another 30 to go!
What are you working on? What are your goals for the future?
These days I try not to travel too much and I really love trying to discover new mixed lines close to home in the Mont Blanc massif.
I’m often out with the binoculars checking how the conditions are changing, following the weather, and getting inspired by random white streaks down the granite walls that might be climbable….
Why do you climb? What do you love about climbing?
I just love being out on the boulders, cliffs, hills and mountains. From the excitement, anticipation and fear, to the beauty of sunrises, discovering incredible places, the pure flow of movement on the good days, unlocking sequences, and sharing these moments with friends.
Which SCARPA shoe is your favourite?
Phantom Tech HD. Complete revolution in performance for all things ice and mixed.
Tell us about your best day climbing?
A fantastic day soloing seven ice climbs on Ben Nevis when I was about 23 has to be one of the best. It was full moon and a perfectly clear night, crisp late season conditions with perfect squeaky snow ice plastered up all the classic climbs like Zero, Point Five, and Orion Face. Fingers crossed for a good winter!
What do you do away from your sport?
Partial to a bit of gardening, as a family we try to be self-sufficient for vegetables in summer. Also, quite into working with wood, if I wasn’t a mountain guide then I think I would be a carpenter.