James' 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.
Matlock, Derbyshire, England
How do I focus
Let your body take over and don’t let your mind hold you back.
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 other fitness exercise
I don’t leave home without my...
Top 6 career highlights
- Trad Climbs Rhapsody - the world’s first and only E11 at Dumbarton Rock, Scotland (2014)
- Trad Climbs Muy Caliente E10 ground up - the first and only person in the world to climb E10 without ”top-rope” practice (2011)
- Bouldering Several Flashes of V13 boulder problems
- Sport Climbing Many routes up to Fr9a all around the world
- Multipitch/Big Wall Alanga, Mt Kinabalu, Borneo: 120m, 3 Pitch, Fr8b - Flash, 3rd ascent
- Multipitch/Big Wall Joy Division, Qualido Wall, Italy: 800m, 22 pitch, Fr8b - The first “one push” ascent
James learned to balance the risk: reward scales as a teenager, climbing Peak District gritstone with what he refers to as ‘sketchy’ safety measures. That risk clearly had an effect on his climbing and he rapidly became a sublimely skilful climber with the vision to match. His naturally elegant climbing style ensured he was one of the UK’s brightest climbing stars by the age of 19, just four years after getting his first taste on rock.
He’s adept at everything from bouldering to multi-pitch, but traditional climbing is where he really excels. His first ascents of ‘The Groove’ and ‘The Walk Of Life’ – two of the most technically difficult routes in the world – and his ground up (without top-rope practice) 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. And in 2014 he achieved a coveted ascent of the world’s first E11, Rhapsody, in Dumbarton, Scotland.
Away from the UK, and with his wife and fellow climber Caroline Ciavaldini, he’s climbed everything from choss in the desert to waterfalls in Asia. Together, often driven by James, they seek out adventure and climbs that are off-centre from the norm. Now based in the South of France, James has discovered joy in experiencing newness close to home and introducing his growing family to the outdoors, combining bike travel with climbing to show us all that magic can be found on your doorstep.