Guy lives with his family in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he works for a low carbon energy engineering consultancy. He has put up new rock and winter climbs in regions as diverse as Africa, the Middle East, the Alps, Peru, Norway and the Greater Himalaya.
However, it is for his first ascents and explorations in Scotland he is rightly best known, having for many years been at the forefront of exploratory Scottish winter climbing and also climbing many new routes on rock. In the early 2000’s Guy made second ascents of many of the hardest winter test-pieces from the 1980’s and 1990’s - more recently has pioneered many of his own first ascents across Scotland up to grade X.
These are typically long and sustained mixed routes, often in very remote locations, and always climbed from the ground up. This committing and adventurous approach encapsulates the very essence of hard Scottish winter climbing. Guy has recently turned his exploratory urges to mountain rock, climbing a batch of high quality mountain routes in the Northwest Highlands up to E7.
He has also published two coffee table books on Scottish climbing – the Great Mountain Crags of Scotland (2015) and The Great Sea Cliffs of Scotland (2020).
Get to know Guy
Tell us about your successes so far?
For me, my greatest ‘success’ has been staying motivated to find and climb really high quality routes in interesting locations that people have been motivated to go and climb themselves. In winter, some of my routes, like Sundance (VIII,8) on Beinn Eighe, and the God Delusion (IX,9) on Beinn Bhan, appear to be slowly gaining popularity, which is great – to my mind these are world class challenges in a uniquely Scottish mould, so it’s great to see them getting some attention.
In summer, routes like Rainman (E5) on the Cuillin of Skye, and Land of the Lost and Found (E7) on Quinag are also slowly gaining reputations as some of the best at their grade in the country. For me it’s really quality rather than difficulty per se that counts.
What are you working on? What are your goals for the future?
Well I still have lots of interesting winter projects to try, and as long as some of my keen and fit young partners like Greg (Boswell) stay active, I’ll still have a chance of getting up some of them! I still aspire to on-sighting a grade X first ascent – I know what that really means, and I know I’ve not achieved it yet!
I think there’s probably only one or maybe two climbers that have, and their level of fitness is awe-inspiring. I’d also like to keep improving on rock, and have several new lines to try in the mountains that will require that – as always, in far flung locations in the Northwest Highlands.
Why do you climb? What do you love about climbing?
I don’t really have any choice – my body, mind and soul demand it; if either of things ever pack up, I guess I’ll need to find something else. As long as I can be outdoors, somewhere wild and expansive, the sound and smell and feel of the rock and the elements – those are the things that really make it all so life-enhancing.
Which Scarpa shoe is your favourite?
The Instinct Lace-ups – comfort, performance and durability; you couldn’t ask for more!
Tell us about your best day climbing?
It starts with a sunrise, in the mountains, and in the company of a close friend. We try hard to climb something new, something inspiring and adventurous. We return home in a beautiful sunset, unhurt and souls replenished, and it finishes with a good malt by the light of a crackling fire.
What do you do away from your sport?
I have a very busy day job and two wonderful kids who keep me occupied most of the time. I love music in all its forms, and I like to write. I’ve compiled a couple of books on Scottish climbing and plan to do more. I’m also lucky enough to have a wonderful partner and soul mate who underpins everything and makes it all worthwhile.