Top Ten

The list to last a lifetime! These are the ten climbs, well nine climbs and a run, that I desire to do before I give up climbing. They represent a wide variety of climbing styles but most are slightly more committing than a stroll in the park! Most are alpine in nature though a rock climb does sneak in there!

To date I have done seven out of the ten but hope to have another done in the next year or so. The remaining two are beginning to look like a dream :-(

On the bright side it means I have to keep climbing!


When I began climbing, lists of climbs to do were fairly common and it seemed only natural that I create a list of my own of ultimate routes to aspire to. Not on a year to year basis but as something around which to base a, definitely non professional, career.

I had all but forgotten about the list I had made all those years ago until a chance conversation with a friend who had/has a similar lifetime list. I went back through my files and found it. It represents the variety and history of climbing but has a definite leaning toward the grand and historically important ascents.

The date in parentheses after the item is the date that I did that particular item.

Walker Spur (July 1983)

One of the six classic great north faces of the Alps. This was only my second route in the Alps! Lying on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses it leads directly to the summit. When at the tourist honey pot of Montenvers, the eye is drawn up the glacier to it.

Central Pillar of Frêney (August 1983)

With a history laced with tragedy: a failed attempt on the first ascent made even the UK press when four out of the seven climbers involved died in a storm. Situated high on Mt Blanc at the head of a remote glacier it is a committing climb with the hardest climbing at the top of a rock pillar known as la Chandelle.

Footless Crow (May 1985)

One of the high points of Lakeland climbing in the 1970s. A Livesey masterpiece, based on the old aid route Great Buttress, it was inspired by a comment to Livesey from Ray McHaffie after Livesey had done the neighbouring Bitter Oasis that he would be really impressed if Livesey freed the Paul Ross aid route The Great Buttress. The name came from the side of a hippie's camper van!

NW face Eiger (August 1985)

This is possibly one of the most famous climbs in the world, certainly amongst non-climbers. One of the three big alpine north faces; the other two being the north face of the Grande Jorasses and the north face of the Matterhorn. It is of course also one of the six classic north faces. A climb with a history laced with tragedy.

Diamond Couloir (December 1989)

The equator is not the place you would normally look for one of the world's great ice climbs but lying amongst the african plains and so close to the equator that “winter” and “summer” exist on the mountain at the same time is Mt Kenya, home to the Diamond Couloir.

The Skye Ridge (May 1999)

The great British attempt at an alpine ridge, and it’s well worth it! A couple of hours access walking at either end, then it’s six miles from summit to summit of rough walking, scrambling and easy but exposed rock climbs. The aim of most is to complete the ridge in a day, the record is an amazing 3hrs 32mins!

Bob Graham Round (May 2005)

Being a Lakelander I have also included the non-climbing Bob Graham Round. This is a challenge rather than a fell race. The aim is to traverse a 62 mile circuit of 42 lakeland fells of 2500ft or higher and return to the starting point at Keswick Moot Hall within 24 hours.

El Cap, The Nose

One of the most famous, and photographed, rock climbs in the world. It dominates the middle part of Yosemite Valley in California. Originally done as a mainly aid climb over a period of 18 months it has now been completely free climbed and the current record is 3hrs 15minutes! Not by the same team though!

The Cassin Ridge

Denali in Alaska is the highest point on the north American continent. The south buttress leads directly to the summit in nearly 8000ft of vertical ascent. First climbed by a team of Italians led by Ricardo Cassin under whose name it is usually referred.

Cerro Torre

Situated in the wind swept region of Patagonia in Argentina, Cerro Torre is one of the most striking mountains on earth. Only 3000m in altitude most of that is taken up by the striking, slender rock spire that captures the winds sweeping off the patagonian ice-cap and helps the mountain maintain its title of “The most difficult mountain on earth”.