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Sport First Ascents

This section is a log of Neil's sport first ascents in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

 Freakshow 8c, Kinsey, UK.  Photo: Lukasz Warzecha

Freakshow 8c, Kinsey, UK.

Photo: Lukasz Warzecha

Sport First Ascents - UK

'I always felt that I missed out on the big sport climbing development boom in Britain and when I first started frequenting the 'honeypot' cliffs in Yorkshire in the early 90s, it was widely believed that their potential had been exploited. As such, it came as a major surprise when I spotted a handful of great new lines on two of our best cliffs, Malham and Kilnsey, some two decades later in 2015. However, as always with sport climbing, choosing a project is the easy part and finishing it is a different story!' NG

 Tyrant 8a/+, ET Cave, Kalymnos.  Photo: Simon Kincaid

Tyrant 8a/+, ET Cave, Kalymnos.

Photo: Simon Kincaid

Sport First Ascents - Kalymnos

'I will never forget my first impressions of the magical Greek island of Kalymnos when I went out there to run a coaching holiday in 2001. At that time there was less than a hundred routes on the island and everywhere I looked, I could see scope for incredible new climbing. Sure enough, I was cast under its spell and every year for the subsequent decade, the lure of next 'king line' would draw me back. For me, no other sport destination can rival the overall experience of climbing in Kalymnos.' NG

 The Axeman 8a, White Mountain, China.  Photo: Mike Robertson

The Axeman 8a, White Mountain, China.

Photo: Mike Robertson

Sport First Ascents - Cuba & China

'Our exploratory trips to Cuba and China in the 'noughties' were based on the theme of gambling on destinations, which had very little climbing development and even less supporting information. In both cases, when we Google-searched the climbing in these countries, all we found were a couple of blurred black-&-white photos of minor cliffs and a few sentences about worthwhile potential. Sure enough in both cases, the climbing surpassed our wildest dreams and many years later, these destinations have now gained a place on the world stage.' NG