Based in Inverness, Callum combines high standard summer and winter climbing with a career as a Mechanical Engineer working in renewable energy. In recent years he’s taken skills developed on the wild crags of the Scottish Highlands to the Alps and beyond.
My love of climbing comes from the variety of experiences on offer and sharing memorable days with good friends, I enjoy all disciplines of climbing, all year round. There are crossovers between disciplines but no two feel the same, there is so much to learn. My biggest passion lies with adventurous trad climbing in the mountains and Scottish winter climbing. The memories made on these days last in perpetuity. Climbing, to me, is synonymous with adventure and that adventure keeps me hungry for more.
I started climbing with the university club and served my trad climbing apprenticeship on the Aberdeen sea cliffs. This set me up well for exploring the mountain crags in summer and winter. In this domain I enjoy onsighting, climbing into the unknown with little information on what is coming up. Figuring out moves, unlocking sequences and fiddling in another small wire, because it might be the last one... the thrill of pulling it out of the bag. It's an unbeatable feeling when you're in that onsight bubble and it all just flows.
I have had some very fun trips to the Alps in summer and winter, climbing lots of day routes from Chamonix and 4000m peaks around the Saastal. I was an inaugural member of the Young Alpinist Group, which culminated in my first expedition to the Greater Ranges. On this trip to the Indian Himalaya we made the first ascent of a new route to an unclimbed 6303m peak. An eye opening experience into what expedition climbing is all about.
I always have a call to be back in Scotland. I moved to the Highlands in 2019 to be closer to the climbing and the mountains that I love. I work as a mechanical engineer for a renewable energy technology development company, we are working on making wave energy a commercially viable energy resource. Another passion in my life, balancing this with climbing is made easier by having an abundance of climbing and so many projects on my doorstep.
The routes that mean the most
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Carnmore Crag.
This one was about more than just the climbing, a great 5 days with friends in a wild and remote location. It was a roller coaster of emotions to get the route done but I got there in the end. At E8 6c it is my hardest trad climb, and also happens to be the furthest from the road!
The Godfather, Beinn Bhan.
A fantastic day out with great friends. One of Scottish winters finest crags and a big route, we had superb conditions and perfect weather - an exquisite mix. This route was a real high point in my "Winter Triple Eight" project, which was to climb eight grade VIII Scottish winter routes on eight different mountain crags in one season.
Origin of the Species, Creag an Dubh Loch.
A route with an interesting history, each ascent of this seems to have a story to tell. I was inspired by this one after seeing the guidebook photo of Jules Lines on it. A striking line on an amazing mountain crag. I could have picked all my top five routes from The Dubh Loch!
L'echo de Alpages, Grand Capucin
Chamonix granite's finest. One of the excellent alpine granite routes I have climbed, but I think this one had it all, bold slabs, techy corners, excellent jamming, powerful roofs, and of course a great summit.
Death is a Gift, Creag nan Clag (The Camel).
For someone like myself who predominantly enjoys onsight climbing, I had done very little sport red pointing. This route felt truly like my first sport project, I had a lot to learn about how to project efficiently and at 8a it was my first of the grade as well.
More from Callum
With the Seasons
With the Seasons is a feature length documentary about how the mountains shape our lives. It’s about the passion and commitment required for cutting edge climbing on Scotland's varied and unpredictable rock and ice.
Follow Callum and the Mountain Equipment team on Instagram
In October 2022, Callum Johnson, Matt Glenn, and Tom Seccombe climbed new line on the East summit of Barnaj II (6303m) in the Indian Himalaya.
More from the team
Barnaj II | Callum Johnson
‘How Not To’ Grytetippen North Face, Senja | Freja Shannon
New Routing in Greenland's Mythic Cirque | Martin Feistl
News | First ascent of Surma-Sarovar (6605m), Nepal By Paul Ramsden and Tim Miller