Name: Ricky Bell
I’ve spent most of my life based in and out of Belfast. I got into climbing through my family, a Ford Seirra, a little trailer tent and wee black dog - The Burren, Wicklow, Donegal, Fair Head, The Lakes, North Wales, The Peak District, The Cairngorms, Skye… wobbling up, taking it in on classics. I climbed my first route in the Mournes when I was 10 years old and still have similar feelings to climbing on Mourne granite.
Since an early age, I was endorsed with the independence to go on climbing trips to sunny sport crags and sandstone boulders in France with some older climbing friends. My Mum gave me a needle and thread and got me to sew my passport into my back pocket. I went back to France every year for the next 4 years before realising there was climbing elsewhere in the world. I’ve climbed all round Europe and on some of the best rocks in the States. But I am most into exploring my own back garden. We’ve got some amazing climbing in Ireland and for a long time now I’ve been expressing myself here. There’s a lot of potential. When I was a kid I used to dream that the Gaia block and the Dreamtime boulder were in my back garden. It’s sorta still a bit like that.
Get to know Ricky
Tell us about your successes so far?
The Gentlemans Arete 8B FA at Fair Head is one of my most memorable achievements. It’s fickle and hard and logistically difficult and I had the best experience developing it and did it in one of those floaty flow states. That's what it's all about.
I think the trad lines in Ireland that I’ve got to open over the years hold real value for me. I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to open some beautiful lines in the areas I started climbing at.
The Complete Scream E8 6b
The Big Skin E8 6c
An Empty Book E8 6c
An Bealach Eile E8 6c
The Rathlin Effect E8 6c
Long Runs The Fox E9 6c - Solo No pads
Mental Crack E7 6c
The Lost Forgotten E7 6c
Peace Time E8 6c
Sleazy Lover E8 6c
These are the badest.
What are you working on? What are your goals for the future?
Recently I’ve been training a lot more consistently. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been which fills me with optimism. Maybe I’ll get to climb my long term project at Fair Head or maybe I’ll enjoy sharing climbing with young people or maybe I’ll do that slab in Fermanagh I tried last week. It’s sorta like that right now.
Why do you climb? What do you love about climbing?
I love it. I love the feeling of balance, movement and connection. I love the process of problem solving and the curiosity of what's round the corner. And I love the community and how they operate.
Which Scarpa shoe is your favourite?
I've always been a foot warrior, not really up in arms.
So I’m very grateful to have been supported by Scarpa for the last ten years.
For rock climbing the Instinct VS/ Instinct VSR is the go to. For me it’s like the best all round shoe I know. That's the one for rock climbing.
I’ve spent a lot of days working in climbing walls. Commercial setting, setting comps, coaching and just climbing for myself. I love the softer shoes for this. The Chimera are a joy for this. If people can have two pairs of shoes - I’d recommend this combo.
Tell us about your best day climbing?
I had a great weekend on a long trip to the states. I managed two Chattanoogan classics Apes on Acid 8b and The Jackel 8b+ both second go. They stood out to me because I remember that feeling of being confident in myself and super relaxed in my climbing. I had no agenda that trip and just flipped about from bouldering to ropes depending on what was on. It was a great way to get into climbing on the sandstone in Tennessee. I did a lot of on sighting that trip. Probably my favourite climbing trip. But specific days… EVERYDAY off the ground is a good day!
What do you do away from your sport?
Right now…* I’ve a new baby. 8 months and a 10 month old skinny dog and a new job - Youth Dev Office for Climbing in Norn Iron. So I’m spending more time enjoying the other great facets of life. Most climbing time is spent with my daughter climbing over, in and out of things such as sofas, beds, cupboards, wardrobes. My adventure window is a smaller shape right now and a bit of a moving target but I’m content and just as psyched to dream about my little hit list for climbing in Ireland and work my way through it. I ‘might’ never see the end of it as it gets better every year. It’s great, isn’t it.
Magic Carpet up Binnian please.
Keep up with the latest from Ricky on Social Media
An Appalachian Exploration Situation...* from Tops Off 4POWER on Vimeo.
Through The Green Door - Part 8. Peace Time from Tops Off 4POWER on Vimeo.
Through The Green Door - Part 9. Long Runs The Fox from Tops Off 4POWER on Vimeo.
The Murlough Bay Boulders...* from Tops Off 4POWER on Vimeo.
Michelle O'Loughlin, Ray Wood, Pat Nolan