Matt is in his element on multi-day Alpine routes and big winter days, thriving in harsh conditions he's developed an impressive tick list stretching from the Himalaya to Chamonix and his home crags in Ireland.
For me climbing has always been a vehicle to explore new places and spend time with people I love. I’ve explored ancient Italian towns and far flung Nepalese Gompa’s purely because climbing has taken me there.
When I started climbing I wasn’t a natural rock athlete and I wasn’t enamoured with hard trad. I have always been drawn to bigger mountains and I knew my strengths would lie in the cross section between fitness, strength and determination. Scottish winter and Alpine climbing have always suited my mind and body much more than technical rock routes.
I cut my teeth on Mount Kenya, at this time my knowledge of alpine climbing was non-existent. Back then, fast and loose was a better description of my style (perhaps it still is). After a few years in Kenya, I was craving additional structure and challenge so I moved back to Scotland. I wanted to climb in well developed areas where I could push my grade and not have the risk of getting killed by a buffalo on the way to the crag.
Scotland was everything I had hoped for, I got scared out of my mind on hard mixed routes and I started to love rock climbing again in the summer. Scottish winter was phenomenal but I still wanted to go bigger. Moving to Chamonix seemed the best way to achieve that, so in 2020 I did. I lived in a van and climbed all the time; I was hooked. I had a lot of early success on bigger routes. It turns out I was really good at suffering which automatically qualifies you as a semi-decent alpinist. I spent the next few years climbing increasingly wild routes on bigger mountains until I finally reached the big time; climbing in the Himalayas.
I like to do things in my own style, climbing doesn’t always need to be serious. It can be fun and ridiculous, you can wear daft outfits, you can party hard and still get things done. There’s a lot of amazing experiences in life, some of them are climbing, many are not.
The routes that mean the most
Feast of the East, Beinn Eighe, Scotland
My first experience of hard Scottish winter climbing, in difficult conditions, in a remote place, with an amazing partner. Eyes on stalks all day, climbing well into the night and thinking we’d done a FWA (we hadn’t). Not easy to forget.
Rolling Stones, Grand Jorasses, France
My first time on a winter route on a North Face. I hadn’t built up slowly to this type of route but thankfully I just had to try and keep up with Tom. This route was something of a next step in my alpine climbing. A hard mixed route, requiring multiple bivis, in winter, on a north face.
The Mask, Fairhead, Northern Ireland
A phenomenal route at my home crag but I think I could include any route at Fairhead. There’s something special about climbing world class routes on a crag overlooking the sea, 30 minutes from where you grew up.
Westgrat, Salbitschijen, Switzerland
One of my favourite routes in the alps, a massive ridge comprising 5 towers, 35 pitches, 1000m of great climbing, great views, wild positions and all at moderate difficulty. Myself and a close friend climbed quickly, enjoyed the sun, laughed a lot and finished with a beer in the sun - the alps summarised in one day.
Massive Attack, Tengkangpoche, Nepal FA
My first trip to the greater ranges was pretty out there in many ways. Planned only 3 weeks before, Tom and I spent 7 days battling our way up a massive rock face mostly on thin seams and sugary snow. We were very fortunate to have knowledge from several generations of climbers to help us piece together a route through the improbable face. It’s hard to forget that kind of experience and being that exhausted.
More from Matt
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