Andy's story

"I haven’t climbed Everest, skied to the poles, nor sailed single handed around the world. The goals I set out to accomplish aren’t easily measured or quantified by world records or ‘firsts’. The reasons I climb, and the climbs I do, are about more than distance or altitude, they are about breaking barriers within myself”

The Ranulph Fiennes of British Climbing

John Humphrys, BBC

The US magazine Climbing once described Andy as a climber with a “strange penchant for the long, the cold and the difficult”, with a reputation “for seeking out routes where the danger is real, and the return is questionable, pushing himself on some of the hardest walls and faces in the Alps and beyond, sometimes with partners and sometimes alone.”

Andy's speciality is big wall climbing and winter expeditions, which involves pitting himself against a vertical climbs of over 1000 metres (that’s two and a half world trade centres), often in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees. Andy has scaled Yosemite's El Capitan - one of the hardest walls in America - over twenty four times, including three solo ascents and a one day ascent (18h), as well as climbing it with a paraplegic climber, his thirteen year old daughter and a blind friend. One of these ascents was a 12 day solo of the Reticent Wall, viewed at the time as perhaps the hardest climb of its type in the world, and the subject of his award winning book Psychovertical.

Andy has also taken part in many expeditions, including four winter expeditions to Patagonia, a crossing of Greenland, first ascents in Antarctica, and to many nights spent suffering to mention. The stories that Andy has brought back from these expeditions have become modern classics in the climbing world and have brought new meaning to the words 'epic' and 'cold'...

It is perhaps Andy's journey from remedial student to successful climber, writer and speaker that interests his audience most. Brought up on a council estate in one of Britain's flattest cities, Hull-born Andy suffered from severe dyslexia which went undiagnosed until he was 19. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to talk about his life and his climbs in a way that is totally accessible to the non-climber and allows the audience to experience the risk and tension of big wall climbing.

Andy also works in film and TV, as a stunt safety advisor and this plays a part in many of his talks, which take you from the heights of Patagonia to the chocolaty depths of Charlie and the Chocolate factory!

Recent Highlights

  • 2001: Solo Reticent Wall on El Cap over 12 days, hardest route ever soloed by a British Climber
  • 2002: Make second ascent of Lafaille route - the 'hardest wall in the alps' - on the Dru in winter over 15 days
  • 2002: Make winter ascent of the East Face of Mermoz Patagonia
  • 2003: Two attempts on a new route on the Troll Wall, Norway, 1st with partner, then solo. Route falls down 2 months later.
  • 2004: Set up Speakers from the Edge.
  • 2006: Cross Greenland with paraplegic adventurer
  • 2007: Climb El Cap with female paraplegic climber over five days
  • 2007: Attempt Torre Egger and Cerro Standhart in Winter while making award winning film Winter Patagonia
  • 2008: First book: Psychovertical wins the Boardman-Tasker award
  • 2008: Multi award winning film Winter Patagonia wins jury award at the Banff Mountain Film festival
  • 2009: Climbed El Cap with Phil Packer MBE to raise money for Help for Heroes, hitting his target of £1 million pounds
  • 2011: Come within 35 metres of first solo ascent on the Troll Wall, Norway after spending ten days climbing the route
  • 2012: Second book: Cold Wars wins the Boardman-Tasker award
  • 2012: Italian translation of Psychovertical wins prestigious Gambrinus nella sezione Alpinismo award and then the Lo speciale premio Veneto Banca, La voce dei Lettor award.
  • 2012: Make an ascent of El Cap with my 13 year old daughter Ella for BBC series 'My Life'.
  • 2012: Psychovertical and Cold Wars translated into German, Italian, Polish and Korean
  • 2013: Makes first winter ascent on the Troll Wall, Norway, living on the wall for 14 nights.
  • 2013: Attempt hardest route on Eiger North Face in Winter, climbing twenty seven pitches over a week before retreating in bad weather
  • 2013: Make 2 ascents of El Cap with blind climber Steve Bates, then help him to make a solo ascent over 5 days
  • 2014: Multiple first ascents in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, including South Ridge of Ulvertanna - called by some "The hardest mountain in the world"
  • 2014:Lead Alex Jones up Moonlight Buttress, Zion, raising £1.5 million for Sports Relief.
  • 2015:Films a three part program for the One Show with kids in Norway.
  • 2015:Solo's The Sea of Dreams on El Capitan over 14 days (4th solo ascent).
  • 2016:Solo of South Seas on El Capitan over 16 days.
  • 2016: 1001 Climbing tips wins Banff book award.
  • 2017: Film Psycho Vertical wins many awards.
  • 2018: Unknown Pleasure published.
  • 2018: Higher Education published.