OUR CLIMBING EXPERTS ARE IN-STORE AWAITING YOUR QUESTIONS
Our expert climbers are passionate about their sport, and spend most of their spare time planning and executing routes across the UK and beyond. So whether you're a novice who needs advice about essential climbing kit for beginners, or an experienced winter climber who needs specialist technical equipment, they're in store and ready to help. Find your nearest climbing expert from the list below.
Andi Bundai - Store Manager
Andi started climbing as a child in Urkut - a large gorge in her home country of Hungary - before having a break for a few years and starting again in earnest around 2 years ago.
She visits local climbing spots like the Avon and Cheddar Gorges as often as possible, but also loves the fact that the The Climbing Academy is based in Bristol, where she goes twice a week to scale the indoor walls.
Portland by Weymouth. “Portland just really has everything as well as being one of the prettiest sights in the South-West.”
Store: GLASGOW BRAEHEAD - TREK
Craig started climbing 9 years ago at an indoor wall and instantly fell in love with the sport. He was soon getting all of his own kit and climbing outside which took it to a whole new level. Craig climbs regularly all over the UK and has ventured abroad. His love of climbing has grown to all aspects of the sport including trad climbing, ice/mixed climbing and bouldering.
Craig is a massive supported of Climbers Against Cancer (CAC) - so much so his car is branded up and people take pictures of it and try to spot it all over the climbing scene.
Craig’s goals for the next year are to obtain his S.P.A award, go back to Fontainebleau and ice fall climbing in Norway.
Fontainebleu, France. "I've just recently spent some time bouldering at Fontainebleu, and the routes there are incredible!"
Mark started climbing over 8 years ago and loves bouldering, although he also enjoys sport and trad climbing from time to time. He tries to get out on a climb, either indoors or outdoors depending on the weather, at least 2 or 3 times per week.
Most of the climbing Mark has done has been in the UK, either in Wales or the Peak District, or the indoor climbing centres in Manchester such as Rockover and Manchester Climbing Wall.
Dali’s Hole in Llanberis. “This place is climbing Mecca. The scenery is absolutely stunning, and everywhere you look you can climb.”
Climbing & Mountaineering Expert
Store: MANCHESTER 130 DEANSGATE
From bouldering, through sport and trad up to the Alps and Scottish winter – Andy does it all. Spending most of his weekends clambering around the Lake District, Andy became keen in walking and camping as well.
A Zugspitze and Grossglockner summiter and Peak District grit regular, Andy is planning big; currently training to get his form up for his planned trip to Australia.
Borrowdale, The Lake District: "Multi-pitch routes over there are just second to none and isolated enough for you to focus on climbing alone".
Brian Molyneux - Store Manager
Climbing and Mountaineering Expert
Brian has extensive knowledge of all types of climbing, from bouldering to winter mountaineering. His passion for the sport has taken him to some of the world’s best and most notorious climbing spots; he’s made films on the North Face of the Matterhorn and the Eiger in winter, and his first Alpine climb was in Italy on the Cima Grande, widely known to be one of the hardest routes in the country.
Some of Brian’s most adventurous and favourite climbs were in South America, exploring extreme parts of Patagonia.
Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia. “This place is incredible; the climbs are amazing and feature some of the hardest routes in the world. It’s fairly remote but the scenery is second to none and you might not see another person for days on end.”
Store: THE NORTH FACE SHEFFIELD
Neil started climbing at the age of 7, over 20 years ago, thanks to a cousin who invited him along on a climbing trip after he saw him attempt to scale - and promptly fall out of - a tree. The cousin has a lot to answer for, because Neil is possibly one of the most fanatical climbers we've got amongst our climbing experts.
His first ever trip was to local crags in Wharnecliff, and from there he progressed to trying out routes in Wales, the Lake District, and then after a few years’ practice moved on to ice climbing in the Glencoe mountain range, Scotland. At age 17 Neil spent a summer climbing in Chamonix, so if you’re thinking of a trip to the Alps to try out some routes, talk to Neil.
These days, he trains at least 6 days a week, mainly in The Foundry, but still frequently visits Snowdonia, Great Orm, and he is always aiming to try out new routes in Wharnecliff. He is also planning a trip to the Greek island of Kalymnos next year, for some fairer weather climbing, which will coincide with The North Face festival.
Llanberis pass, Wales. Neil is always looking for interesting rock faces will lots of diversity, and his favourite place to climb in the UK is Llanberis pass in Wales. "There's just loads to do, all sorts of different styles from multi pitch Trad, to bouldering next to the road, and the scenery is amazing." One of his ambitions is to go climbing on the granite of the Australian Grampians, near Melbourne, for the reasons above.
Climbing & Mountaineering Expert
Mountaineering and climbing expert Rhys tries to get out to the walls two to three times a week, and into the mountains at least twice a month. Well-versed in all aspects of the sport including indoor, trad, sport, bouldering, dry-tooling and winter climbing, it's safe to say Rhys is a font of knowledge when it comes to heading upwards.
Rhys's climbing has had its highs and lows. He has completed a Three Peaks Challenge in full winter conditions; fallen on a pitch on Ben Nevis's Douglas Boulder (and gone on to finish the route in the dark) but on other climbs has known when to turn back, having had to abandon an attempt on Thunderbolt in Glencoe.
Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia."I love Glencoe and Torridon, but the Glyders and Carneddau are my favourites closer to home. Pete's Eats in Llanberis is a great place after a long day in the hills - it does awesome food and hot chocolate!
Store: COVENT GARDEN
Nacho began ice climbing when he joined Ellis Brigham's Covent Garden shop over five years ago. Immediately realising he had found his niche, he became an ice wall instructor and now manages our London Vertical Chill indoor ice wall.
Nacho loves his job, and the opportunity it gives him to train his skills and technique on the ice: "Most people go ice climbing once or twice a year, I do it two or three times a month plus at least one trip a year somewhere outdoors. That has allowed me to improve and polish my technique quite fast. It also gives me access to quite a wide range of gear that I can test and try."
He also relishes the chance he gets to learn from some of the world's top athletes: "Meeting good ice climbers in the ice wall and learning from their experience also helped me, but I learned the most when I had ice climbing training classes with top worldwide climbers Tim Emmett and Dave Mcleod."
The Alps. "My favourite destination for ice climbing is the Alps. Lovely food, French or Italian depending on which side you are on and it's not overly cold, so the ice is soft and nice to climb."
Beth Shaun Flanagan
Climbing expert Beth loves the outdoors. A little over three years ago, Beth discovered her passion for climbing, since then she has gained her diploma in Outdoor Adventure Sports, worked as a climbing instructor teaching both adults and children, and has been on numerous training courses, one of which consisted of ice climbing with The North Face team in Scotland.
You’ll find Beth in the Lake and Peak districts spending her spare time testing out new routes and venturing to new heights. When she’s not out in the hills, she will usually be found at the Leeds climbing wall honing her technique or pushing herself on new bouldering routes.
This summer Beth is taking a trip to Magaluf to climb Puig de Massanella and relax at some of the local Majorcan beaches.
The Lake and Peak Districts. "A few of my favourite places to climb would be the Lake and Peak District due to the variety of climbs and the range of ability levels."
Stevie’s climbing expertise began seven years ago when she was just thirteen after she signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh award. Little did she know that what was a just hobby would soon turn into an obsession…
Since then she has continued to complete all three Duke of Edinburgh awards, obtained her Foundation degree in outdoor education, finished both the Cosford and Wendall 50 mile marches, and conquered the prestigious 100 mile Nijmegen March.
Having lived in the Lake District for 2 years, Stevie has explored almost all the hills the Lake District has to offer, yet she still discovers a new challenge in every trip. She has completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge, and while she has summited all three separately, hopes to tackle the National 3 Peak 24 hour challenge soon. Notably, Stevie has reached the top of Moldoveanu, the highest mountain in Romania.
Stevie will be visiting New Zealand later this year, where she plans to tackle the peaks of the mighty Southern Alps.
The Lake District. "After living there for 2 years, having climbed most of the hills there every trip is still a challenge."
Benj has been climbing for 18 years now. Learning and mastering multiple disciplines of climbing that include; sport, traditional, bouldering and multipitch. He is always eager to take on new challenges.
Benj is an SPA qualified climbing instructor, passing skills on to others by freelancing during the summer season. He has climbed all over the UK and has bouldered at legendary spot Fontainebleau in France. His favourite Crag is Robin Proctor Scar in North Yorkshire.
Currently Benj is training and preparing for a diploma to become a level 2 fitness instructor and level 3 personal trainer. He also intends on starting his own business to provide health fitness programmes for specific outdoor sports.
Benj’s ambitions for this season are to climb more sport crags than he did last year, and to get his two eldest children to start climbing at his local wall.
Fontainebleau - France.
Climbing & Mountaineering Expert
How long have you been snowboarding?
"I've been mountaineering for as long as I can remember, and climbing for the last 7 years."
What makes you an 'expert'?
"Being on the committee of my university climbing club for a few years, I have led large groups in the mountains, taught navigation, and instructed at our indoor and outdoor climbing sessions. On my many trips to Snowdonia, I’ve tackled some of the UK's most unforgiving weather conditions, there's no experience quite like it!"
Any unbelievable anecdotes?
"I always pack my climbing shoes on any backpacking trip. So far, it's paid off every time. In Belize, a friend and I took a wrong bus and wound up in small village quite far off the beaten track, whilst there we just so happened to start-up conversation with a man who described himself as 'the only man in Belize with an interest in climbing'. We spent the next three days deep in the rainforest, accepting fully the risk of flesh eating flies, so that we could sample our new friend's best recommended climbs.
"Another stand-out find was the little-known bolted sport climbing routes in Vinales, Cuba. Just beware - it's still technically illegal!"
What's your favourite destination/resort/challenge to carry out your expert activity? Why?
"Impossible to pick a favourite! Trad climbing on the Pembrokeshire coast is something quite special, with the waves crashing underneath, the seabirds circling all around, and the fresh sea-air in your lungs, it’s an extremely atmospheric spot for climbing. However, given the right conditions, nothing beats a bit of exploratory deep-water solo climbing on a nice stretch of river or coast in a warm country."
What are your aims this season?
"With the arrival of winter I’m looking to get into ice climbing, and move towards alpine mountaineering, big mountain days are high on the agenda!"