Calum grew up in a small quarry town called Bethesda in North Wales, nestled in between the Carneddau and Glyderau mountain ranges, which despite their modest size offer great opportunities to have fun in the outdoors. Calum had always been into sport, whether it be rugby, running or kayaking but when he discovered rock climbing, he finally found something that he could see himself doing for the rest of his life.
Calum has always appreciated the variety of disciplines that climbing has to offer and has dabbled in all of them since he began nine years ago—with a low boredom threshold, variety is important for him. He took a gap year after finishing school and climbed three lifetime goals: Divine Providence on Mont Blanc, The Fish in the Dolomites and Golden Gate free on El Cap. After that year he realized that university and its associated costs could be put on hold, perhaps permanently, and he began accumulating his outdoor qualifications so that he could work in the mountains and earn money between trips away. At the moment he lives in North Wales with his girlfriend Gabby and when he’s not away working or on a climbing trip he loves spending time socializing with friends, going running and getting out cragging at every opportunity.
Hometown: Bethesda, Wales
Currently Living: Nant Peris, Wales
Height: 5’ 11”
Career Highlights: Paciencia (8a) on the Eiger N Face; Golden Gate (5.13a) on El Cap; Divine Providence (7b+) Mont Blanc; Gabarrou-Silvy (M8+), Aiguille Sans Nom; FA of Macleod-Muskett (M8) Aguja Guillaumet, Patagonia; FA of Wall of Paine (A3+-7b+) Paine Sud; Multiple FA’s up to E8, 8a and VIII 8 in the UK. On-sights up to E7 and 8a. Repeat of the Indian Face (E9 6c).
When did you first start climbing?
I started when I was 13 years old when my Mum took me climbing on Holyhead Mountain in North Wales. I was hooked from my first day out!
What do you most enjoy about your sport?
I love the variety of disciplines, the opportunities to travel and of course the fact that climbing itself is so much fun. You can find something great to do whether you’re in summer or winter and if it’s raining there’s always the climbing wall.
How do you define success?
A good adventure had with friends where everybody returns in one piece.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who put 100% effort and commitment into what they do in any discipline.
What are your hobbies outside of your sport?
I love running, skiing, biking and kayaking. I like reading books and writing too.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
What are your hidden talents?
I used to play the piano quite well although I rarely play anymore and when I’m fit I can also be quite a decent fell runner and compete in a few races every now and then.
Tell us about your most favorite place in the world:
So many to choose from! I love the Dolomites for its open and impressive landscape. Amazing rocky pinnacles amongst lovely meadows – the food is great in the towns and villages in the area too! That said, I love the mountains and coastline around my home area in Wales. Snowdonia is a fantastic area to live when the sun is out and the rock is dry.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not, I wanted to play rugby for Wales!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be, and why?
I suppose in a selfish way I’d love to be more motivated to train hard. I find it quite difficult to keep it up whilst I’m away working or on an expedition and seem to constantly be playing catch up to get myself back in to good shape for specific projects.
Tell us about a time in your life when you have been scared:
I guess there have been very emotional times when I’ve lost friends and family over the last few years. I’m generally quite good at controlling my fear and emotions though. On an expedition to Patagonia last year a fixed line got caught over a spike and we’d left all our gear at the top of the lines. I couldn’t see where the rope was jammed and ended up jumaring the line with a knot beneath me should the rope snap. If it had I’d have taken a 100 foot whipper on to the previous belay – spicy!
Describe your perfect day:
A nice lie in, followed by a swift walk in to an incredible alpine wall that’s basking in sunlight. Feeling strong, climbing well and following my nose up unclimbed terrain to a striking sunset on the top of a mountain.
How would your friends describe you?
Lively, enthusiastic, (over)optimistic, full of bad jokes too. They’d probably also say that I can be grumpy if I have to make an alpine start.