Sometimes ice climbing hurts! © Tavener Collection
Dougal grew up in North Wales, a climber’s paradise if ever there was, but initially confined his outdoor interests to white water kayaking. He spent five consecutive years as the British Junior Champion and as a member of the British team. He also became a Junior World Cup winner during this period. Eventually the call of the mountains became too much though and he turned his attention towards climbing.
The fitness and competitive instinct developed during his years as a top class kayaker stood Dougal in good stead; before long he was rising up through the grades at an alarming rate. Within a year or two he had headpointed the thin and scary My Halo E7 6b in the Dinorwig slate quarries and onsighted Lord of the Flies E6 6b on Dinas Cromlech. He then went on to onsight more thin and bold routes on North Stack Wall at Gogarth, such as Flower of Evil E6 6b and A Wreath of Deadly Nightshade E6/7 6b.
At first instruction work at Plas y Brenin kept him in the area, but soon the lure of the Alps became too much. After leading two expeditions in South America he made the move to Austria in 2005. This dropped Dougal into another world of possibilities where he gorged on an abundance of classic routes and the chance to make quality first ascents in both winter and summer.
Hard mixed climbing had an immediate appeal and Dougal climbed several test pieces such as Tension M12 and Fontok M11 at Dryland. He also seconded Albert Leichtfried on the first ascent of Illuminati, a five pitch M11+ WI 6+ route in Val di Lunga in the Dolomites.
Dougal pushed his standard on steep physical sport routes too, climbing a F8b+ project line at Tonsai Beach in Thailand and Magnificat F8b at Ceuse. More recently in Austria he has made several hard ascents at Achleiten, including the third ascent of Silver Surfer F8b+/8c, the second ascent of Falling Pieces 8a+ and a repeat of Rocketman F8b+.
On the bigger faces Dougal has some notable ticks under his belt, including the North Face of Grand Charmoz in Chamonix and the Hasse Brandler ED on Cima Grande in the Dolomites.
In 2007 he competed in the Winter Climbing Championship in Saas Fee and was the climbing member of the Austrian team which won both the 2009 Nissan Outdoor Winter Games and the Nissan Outdoor Games in 2010. Dougal also picked up an award for the best sportsman in the latter event. The team had to produce an extreme outdoor sport film which was viewed by thousands of spectators on a giant screen in the centre of Chamonix. Dougal’s team’s film was judged to be the most impressive, capturing the power of the elements and showcasing a range of spectacular adventure sports.
Away from the arena of films and competitions Dougal repeated Via Italia a nine pitch trad route on the South Face of the Sella group in the Dolomites. The crux is a five metre F8a roof crack.
Dougal is currently based near Innsbruck and is close to finishing his mountain guide scheme/qualifications. He runs a guiding company: Alpine Elements; check out the website at: www.dougaltavener.com
Dougal Tavener, Silver Surfer F8b+/8c, Achleiten, Austria © Tavener Collection
“Since living in Austria other extreme sports have become a big part of my life: free ride skiing and downhill mountain biking... indeed anything that gives me a chance to push myself to the and beyond the limits whilst being in the mountains.”