Portrait of Matt Helliker

Matt has always been passionate about being in the mountains. The physical and mental challenges they give him, together with the satisfaction he gains from them, are something that only climbing and skiing can bring. Matt works as an IFMGA mountain guide and is one of the UK’s most accomplished alpinists with a list of hard new routes and repeat ascents from the European Alps to the Greater Ranges.

Discipline: Alpine climbing

Hometown: Wells, Somerset, UK

Currently Living: Chamonix, France

Height: 185 cm

Career Highlights: 

FA The Cartwright Connection (AI6 A2 5.8 M6) Mount Hunter, North Buttress, Alaska; FA Eyes Wide Shut (ED1 M6) Mont Rouge di Greuvetta, North East Face, Mont Blanc Massif; Criptonite (8b) Tetto Sarre, Italy; FA Death or Glory (ED2 M5) Huantsan Sur, North East Buttress, Peru; FA Meltdown (AI5 M7) Mount Grosvenor, Ruth Gorge, Alaska; le spectre de l’Ottokar (8b+) Gorges du Tarn, France; FFA Birthright (M6) Grand Charmoz, Mont Blanc Massif; The Demon Direct (IX/9) Coire an Lochain, Scotland; Night Fever (M8) Tour Ronde, West Wall, Mont Blanc Massif; FA There’s a Moose Loose about thus Hoose (AI6 M8) Moose’s Tooth, East Face, Alaska; The Great Escape (VIII/IX), Coire an t-sneachda, Scotland; FA For Whom the Bell Tolls (AI5 M6+) Mount Church, Ruth Gorge, Alaska.

When did you first start climbing/skiing?

I started rock climbing at the age of 12 in the Southwest of England on small single pitch cliffs, but I wanted to experience bigger challenges. Progression from cliffs to the mountains was the natural way for me and opened up my mind as to what was on offer. This is when my true passion of mixed climbing and skiing became evident.

What do you most enjoy about your sport?

The way in that climbing and skiing allows you to make your own decisions, your own choices and the sense of freedom that this gives me, together with the life long friendships that my activities forge.

How do you define success?

Being alive, happy and content in life but nothing beats for me the pure satisfaction that a first ascent gives. This is a cool feeling that I just can’t get from purely repeating existing routes.

What are you most proud of, either in life, your sport or both? 

My beautiful girlfriend Zoe, my close family… And my easy going, simple and flexible life I live.

Who are your heroes? 

I don’t have heroes but in my early years Mark Twight inspired me through his books “Extreme Alpinism” and “Kiss or Kill”. 

What are your hobbies outside of your sport?

Hmmm, I have a very narrow mind…. Apart from climbing and skiing not much else, but I do wanna surf a lot more in the future, I need to find another way to fill some down time and rest periods.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 

Chocolate muesli in the evenings and a packet of yellow bag M&M’s, but not always at the same time ;-)

What are your hidden talents?

I would like to say D.I.Y home improvements but many will disagree!

Tell us about your most favorite place in the world?

Impossible…way too many to list with way too many memories to single out any location. But for sure the European Alps are always a very special place for me and feel like home.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Mushroom farmer. 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be, and why?

My feet… Let's just say, you wouldn’t wanna get to near them after a day in boots!

Tell us about a time in your life when you have been scared?

Mostly flying in and out on expeditions by bush plane into the Alaska Range! 

Describe your perfect day?

Wake up in my bed, I get up, head into the kitchen and have a massive breakfast of muesli and fruit, cuppa tea, then a coffee…I’m good to go. Collect my skis and climbing gear already packed from the night before, meet a mate and head up into the mountains for a climb, 1 day, 2 days..more. Whatever works, it’s all good. Climb a great route, have a cool experience, descent and then ski back into the valley to my home, my girlfriend and if I’m lucky a tasty meal ;-) Bed, Sleep, Repeat.

How would your friends describe you? 

Dedicated, obsessive, addicted, focused, work-shy, driven and scruffy!