I am originally from Northern Ireland but I currently spend a lot of my time based in Chamonix in French Alps. I started climbing when I was 18. I didn’t know any climbers, mountaineers or mountain guides, but I was fascinated by it all. I read a lot of climbing books.
I didn’t know where climbing would take me, and I certainly didn’t think I would climb some of the things I have. I think back then I had very little idea of what I could do but the journey to becoming a guide was a great focus for me and climbing became my life, not just because I loved it but I also wanted climbing and mountains to be part of my profession.
I enjoy all types of climbing mountaineering and skiing, and I also love pushing my limit in every discipline. Rock climbing is timeless because you can always do it, every season, and the simplicity of movement on rock is the base for everything else. If I had to live somewhere, where I couldn’t climb on rocks I would be very sad.
Get to know John
Tell us about your successes so far?
Voie Petit 8b on the Grand Capucin | Tresoir de Romain 8a+ on the Grand Capucin | L’or du Temps, Grand Capucin 7c+ Onsight | Freerider 5.13a on El Capitan | Ave Caeser 7c, Petit Clocher du Portalet | Castapiagne Rouge 8a, Verdon Gorge | Divided Years E8/9 Mourne Mountains | Bachar/Yerian 5.11X Tuolumne Meadows | South Tower of Avellano E5 6a, First Ascent, Patagonia | First Ascent of Above and Beyond, Aiguille de Pelerins, Chamonix | Sport Climbing redpoints up to 8b+ and 8a flash | Bouldering Font 8a | Lots of trad first ascents in Ireland up to E7 | The six classic North faces of the alps, and many more Alpine Grand Courses.
What are you working on? What are your goals for the future?
I hope to climb some more big wall free climbs, push my sport grade and go on an expedition again. Some day the Trango towers would be a dream.
Why do you climb? What do you love about climbing?
I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t climb. I love the movement, the challenge, the exploration, and the absolute variety.
Which Scarpa shoe is your favourite?
I’ve learnt a lot about shoes and how different shoes are good for different styles. Soft versus stiff shoes. I still keep coming back to Instinct lace ups which cover a good range of styles for me.
Tell us about your best day climbing?
There are too many. I don’t think anything stands out as particularly mind blowing in terms of achievement. I'm stubborn and I'll keep trying things until I succeed. And success is all the sweeter after a hard fight. New routes are really fun, and I had some great days on Owey Island on the West coast of Ireland, finding beautiful lines, with epic Atlantic sunsets, good craic, good music and Guinness.
What do you do away from your sport?
I like to take photographs, ski, surf and play music.