Tim has rapidly taken his high standard rock, winter and alpine climbing experience to the high mountains. In recent years he’s made the first ascents of Jugal Spire and Surma-Sarovar in Nepal, receiving a Piolet d’Or for ‘The Phantom Line’ on the former. He’s now an IFMGA Guide and lives and works full time in the mountains.
I grew up in Scotland and it’s the mountains here that have shaped the early years of my development as a climber. Initially I climbed indoors, then summer trad lead to winter climbing, I made my pilgrimage to Chamonix and eventually I travelled to the Himalayas.
Throughout my outdoor career I’ve been extremely lucky to have had some amazing mentors from my parents, Rosie Goolden, and Paul Ramsden who have all shared so much knowledge and enthusiasm with me, which I am eternally grateful for. Over the years I’ve realised that what motivates me is the mountains and everything they offer rather than just the climbing. Climbing has become the mode of transport on which I can meet interesting characters, experience new cultures, try strange food, take in breath-taking vistas and achieve a sense of fulfilment.
What I look for in my climbing is a sense of exploration and adventure. But more than that it’s the people that I share these adventures with that matter the most to me. This is what has allowed me to enjoy my job as a mountain guide so much. The moments that matter to me are finding structure in the world of mountain chaos, the glimpses of beautiful peaks between storm clouds, the wind on my face and the sun on my back and enabling people to achieve what seems out of reach to them. It’s these moments that I want to share with others so I can impart my passion for the mountains, in the same way others like Paul and Rosie have done for me.
Now having spent the last 15 years fanatically exploring what the world has to offer I feel like I have barely scratched the surface, but always when I return to the Scottish mountains, I feel like I am home.
The routes that mean the most
As I have alluded to above its not necessarily individual climbs that stand out when I think back over my climbing career, but rather a bivi shared with a friend, a conversation spent on a summit, seeing the happiness in a friends frosty face or lying in the grass at the top of a crag when I should have been in school. But 5 climbs that stand out for these reasons are:
Mongoose Direct VIII 8 Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, Isle of Skye
A very sustained and high quality 6 pitch winter route on a wild and remote cliff. This is the best of many great first winter ascents I’ve climbed with my good friend Jamie and an overall magical day.
The Phantom Line, Jugal Spire 6563m
An unforgettable 5 days spent hanging off the most impressive mountain face I’ve even set eyes on with my childhood hero. An experience that will last with me forever.
The North Ridge of the Piz Badile
One of the best ridges in the alps, 800m of perfect V.Diff rock all to ourselves with my girlfriend Beth.
American Direct, Les Drus
An amazing day of climbing as fast and light as we could, moving together for most of the route with my good friend Matt. It took us 10hrs from our bivi to the summit of the Grand Dru and we made it down to the Charpoua refuge in time for dinner.
Traverse of the Meije from the Promontoire, Ecrins
Climbed on our final guide assessment with my two mates Polly and Dan who made the 3 years of guide scheme a lot of fun and we were all hugely supportive of each other. We spent the car journey there and back reminiscing about all the good times from our time on the scheme. A few days later we all past and became fully qualified mountain guides together.
Essential Kit for Big Trips
- A kindle has been a big game changer for me for expeditions and time in alpine huts. There’s been days when I’ve spent 14hrs lying in a tent reading it.
- A camera. I like to capture the special moments and usually carry a camera with me on any climbs I do.
- A paper map. I didn’t always used to carry one when I was younger and have been caught out more than once when my phone has died. most memorable being on the cairngorm plateau in a blizzard at 2am and with winds strong enough that we couldn’t stand upright.
- Nomic Ice axes. I’ve owned a pair for the past 10 years and anything else would just feel wrong now.
- Mountain Equipment G2 pants. The first bit of free kit I ever got and I have used them on everything from new Scottish winter routes, virgin Himalayan peaks and alpine summits.
More from Tim
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The Phantom Line
Watch Tim and Paul's First Ascent of the Jugal Spire.
Guiding services across Scotland, The Alps and to far flung corners of the earth.
Tim shares his stories and experience from a wealth of climbing trips.
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News | First ascent of Surma-Sarovar (6605m), Nepal By Paul Ramsden and Tim Miller