I did use to have a real job years ago, but it seems hard to remember that now! I have been climbing and skiing all over the world for over thirty years! eek!
For the past eighteen years I have been running my mountaineering business from the foot of Ben Nevis, living closer to the North Face than pretty much anyone. I suppose I am best known for coaching and teaching Winter climbing and my knowledge of Ben Nevis in winter. During the summer I am involved with training and assessing of mountaineering awards within the UK and am found guiding on Skye lots. When not doing this it's a quick trip out to the Alps.
If climbing is my work then skiing is my passion, and I love the fact that you can continually improve no matter how long you have been doing it. I work as a ski patroller, give courses and lectures on avalanche awareness and winter safety and run off-piste workshops.
My enthusiasm for the mountains is as great now as it was thirty years ago, in particular I am passionate about winter climbing and am happy to discuss routes and epics (not ethics!!) with anyone.
My favourite day? Getting the first bin up La Grave on a powder day or seeing the grin on clients faces after they have just led their first serious graded winter climb.
My ambition? To never become blasé about the amazing job that I have.
Get to know Richard
Tell us about your successes so far?
Helping people realise their Scottish Winter climbing dreams. Guiding folks on all the amazing classics, especially on Ben Nevis. The same goes for taking people to untracked quiet steep Scottish powder. Oh, and being only one of four independant Winter Mountain Leader Providers for training and assessment in the UK.
Personally, things that stick out. A three day full traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles. Shooting Star VI / 6, the longest winter climb on the orion face. Soloing Orion Direct and taking part and hosting on the very successful international climbing meet a couple of years ago.
What are you working on? What are your goals for the future?
Finding the right work / play balance that will enable me to keep enjoying and loving the mountains. For me, this means working a little less, and focusing on the guiding and coaching at the mid to high grades that I really enjoy, so I can still find time to climb some new lines this Winter. I have my eye on one or two!
Why do you climb? What do you love about climb?
For me its the big mountain / Winter routes. Personally, its not neccesarily about being an elite rock climber or elite dry tool performer. Its the experience, commitment and a general overall competance that big mixed winter route demands. When your half way up such a route, its an all absorbing puzzle to be solved and other life cares fade away in that purity of focus.
Which Scarpa shoe is your favourite?
Sorry, the question is just too hard as they are all great at what they are designed to do!
For summer I love the Ribelle, a brilliant boot for mountaineering / scrambling and climbing. Technical enough to climb severe graded rock yet flexible enough to be comfortable all day.
For winter it has to be the new Phantom Tech's, the finest technical winter boot that has ever been.
For skiing I adore my Freedom RS. If the day doesn’t involve too much walking or distance on the skins, they are always the first choice. For work, I’ll often have the super comfy and light F1’s on. This Winter I’m really looking forward to trying out the Maestrale XT.
Tell us about your best day climbing?
We climb to be in the moment, and Scarpa allows us to get there. For those fleeting times when we are there, then they are all the best days.
What do you do away from your sport?
Learning to fly a speed wing, making music. I also spend a fair amount of time living on a small remote hebridean island, and wandering barefoot along the deserted beaches with my three German Shepherds is bliss!