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Trad First Ascents

See this section of the site for a log of Neil's selected trad FAs in the UK, Scandinavia, Brazil and Mongolia .

 Racing very pumped arms up the headwall of Airdrawndagger E8 6c, Pembroke. First ascent in 2004.  Photo: Paul Twomey

Racing very pumped arms up the headwall of Airdrawndagger E8 6c, Pembroke. First ascent in 2004.

Photo: Paul Twomey

Trad first ascents UK

It's common knowledge that most of Britain's popular trad cliffs have been well travelled and thus it takes good fortune and X-ray specs to spot a worthwhile new line in areas like Pembroke and Snowdonia. For this reason trad new routing in the UK will always hold a special place. British trad is no longer under-rated on the global stage the way it use to be and nowadays it is common for international climbers to pay homage. For me, in spite of having climbed in many of the world's key destinations UK trad remains one of the most diverse and interesting climbing styles. 

 Leo Houlding abseiling from Firefox E7 6b, 6c, 6a, Norway during our ascent in 1998.  Photo: Andy Cave

Leo Houlding abseiling from Firefox E7 6b, 6c, 6a, Norway during our ascent in 1998.

Photo: Andy Cave

Trad first ascents - Scandinavia

In stark contrast to the UK, it would seem that there is a never ending supply of unclimbed rock to discover in Norway and Sweden for those who are prepared to go off the beaten track and risk frustration with the weather. As such my trips to Norway in '98 and Sweden in '99 were both full of highs and lows, with long drives and cafe stints being balanced with some truly memorable climbing experiences.     

 The delicate and poorly protected crux of Boiling Point E8 6b, Brazil. First ascent in 2000.   Photo: Mike Robertson

The delicate and poorly protected crux of Boiling Point E8 6b, Brazil. First ascent in 2000. 

Photo: Mike Robertson

Trad first ascents - Brazil & Mongolia

It's important to be ethically versatile when you travel the world in search of new rock. When we set out to Brazil in 2000 and Mongolia in 2001, we had no idea whether we would find any decent rock at all, let alone whether we would be placing bolts or fiddling in wires. It transpired that both destinations revealed fantastic granite outcrops and that trad seemed to be the best-fitting style.