A sublimely skilful climber with the vision to match, James has gone from climbing near his family home in the Peak District of England to exploring walls and mountains in exotic locations around the globe everywhere from Tazmania to Thailand. His first venture into rock climbing came at the age of 15 and it was soon clear that he was blessed with a naturally elegant climbing style. However, he also had the dedication and commitment to refine and develop that talent and by the age of 19 he was already one of the UK’s brightest climbing stars. James has been scouring the planet for more demanding challenges ever since.
Birthdate: December 15th, 1985
Hometown: Matlock, Derbyshire, England
Homebase: Connaux, France,
Favourite Book: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Favourite Music: I listen to a lot of electronic music, but depending on the day, I can also enjoy a bit of cheesy pop, soppy love songs or -God forbid - some R&B.
Favourite Food: Chocolate brownies or lemon curd… but obviously not at the same time! That’s just gross!
How do I focus? Let your body take over and don’t let your mind hold you back.
Best advice ever received: Don’t let go!
What inspires you? People surpassing what they previously thought possible.
Words to live by: “Excess is part of my nature. Dullness is a disease. I really need danger and excitement. I'm never scared of putting myself out on a limb.” (Freddie Mercury)
Favourite fitness exercise: Gymnastics rings.
I don’t leave the house without my … original yellow The North Face Base Camp Duffel. It’s been with me on almost every trip since 2005 and is still going strong.
Never afraid to challenge or question himself and always happy to try new things, he went on to excel in a broad spectrum of disciplines, from bouldering and sport climbing to trad and multi-pitch. His first ascents of The Groove and The Walk Of Life in the UK, two of the most technically difficult routes in the world, have raised the bar for hard trad climbing. His 2011 “ground up” ascent of Muy Caliente, an incredibly bold and difficult E10 on the imposing sea cliffs of Pembrokeshire, Wales, raised the bar for traditional rock climbing. James continued his success with fast ascents of several hard multi-pitch routes around Europe, including a flash of Mezzogiorno di Fuoco (Fr8b, 270m). In the autumn of 2014 he achieved a coveted ascent of the world’s first E11, Rhapsody, in Dumbarton, Scotland.
After meeting his future wife Caroline Ciavaldini, a fellow climber, in 2010, James embarked on a global climbing odyssey with her, experiencing climbs, sunsets and sunrises around the world from South Africa to the Philippines. Today he adopts a highly focused approach, seeking out technically hard challenges and unclimbed rocks and adapting his training to match. Always eager to share his passion for climbing with new audiences, he is currently writing an adventure travel book with Caroline and the couple have launched the S.P.O.T project which aims to share climbing equipment with developing communities in the Philippines and elsewhere.
Having matured as a man and a climber, James’s dream for the future is to continue to push the technical standards of his climbing with longer, harder and more challenging ascents. He is keen to return to South Africa and the Philippines but above all he remains motivated by the chance to discover new places and to fulfil his lifelong ambition of exploring the unknown.