A love for first ascents has also taken him around the UK and the world, with hard trad routes in Orco and Red Rocks to his name. With an appetite for suffering, a good sense of humour and endless enthusiasm, Tom has also pushed the boundaries closer to home with a string of creative challenges – some hard, some odd, but usually both.
Tom has also pushed climbing in unusual directions. After an injury forced Tom into avoiding crimps, he focused on developing crack climbing skills and eventually an offwidth obsession. After ticking everything in the UK and some of the hardest routes in Europe, there was only one place left to visit. A trip to the south-west of the US, the offwidth capital of the world, resulted in the first ascent of Century Crack (5.14b) – the hardest of its kind. From the widest of cracks, the obvious challenge was then the thinnest. After spending months in his now famous training basement, a trip to Squamish resulted in an ascent of Cobra Crack (5.14).
"I was born in South Africa and spent the following 20 years living in lots of different places due to my parents. I think the regular moving around gave me an appetite for change and ever since leaving school, I’ve never quite been satisfied with staying in one place for more than a few months.
In recent years I’ve specialised in trad and in particular, crack climbing. This has taken me from the depths of my basement in Sheffield (training on wooden cracks) to some of the world’s best hard cracks. My main passion lies in new routing and exploring new places, so as my climbing progresses I naturally look for first ascents and ones that include hard crack climbing."