George Smith

George Smith© Ray Wood

George, or ‘Big G’ as he is sometimes known, is a big man with a mischievous sense of humour and a huge appetite for adventurous sea cliff routes. But it wasn’t always thus. Back in the 80s George was well versed in the vagaries of balancey wall climbing; check out his big routes on the California Main Wall in the Dinorwig slate quarries, such as Stairway to Silence E7 6b. However, a growing dissatisfaction with all that crimping on thin edges and fiddling in tiny nuts for protection lead him on a journey away from the traditional test pieces.

At first he delved into the world of sport climbing, becoming a keen devotee of Lower Pen Trwyn and the radical Diamond on Little Orme. Here he made key first ascents such as Wild Understatement F8a+ and A Skip of Fools F8a+. However his destiny lay in a different arena altogether, that of the atmospheric zawns and caves of Gogarth, the very best of the Welsh sea cliffs.

The sport climbing fitness gained on the Ormes left George well poised to make an impact and he wasted no time in tackling a series of mind boggling lines. These super routes travelled through some radical upside down terrain, often following alarming offwidth features and hanging chimney lines. Climbs such as The Heinous Flytrap E7 6b and Barfly E7 6b really broke the mould and altered perceptions about what could be climbed in a ground up style. He also teamed up with Adam Wainwright to establish the truly wild The Mad Brown E7 6b which breached the back wall of Wen Zawn and secured George a place on the front cover of the Gogarth North guidebook.

Although originally from the Lakes, George has lived in North Wales since the mid 80s. His love of the local crags can be traced right across the region with most areas sporting one or two of his signature routes; usually the steepest, most impressive lines. The outrageous Ugly E8 6b/c on Trwyn y Tal is perhaps his finest hour, a savagely overhanging and desperately difficult line on one of the scariest cliffs on the Lleyn Peninsular. Such was the formidable reputation of this route that it had to wait 17 years for a repeat.

These days George lives on Fachwen hill opposite Llanberis with his wife Anna and three daughters. He is still as active as ever, always beavering around searching out interesting crags and unclimbed lines. He also retains his comedic instinct, whether it is taking the starring role in Al Hughes' brilliant Upside Down Wales film, scribbling his humorous Boulder of the Month series for the northwalesbouldering.com website or writing regular magazine articles, often featuring his curious alter ego Ed Bellthorpe.

Having discovered that I wasn’t very good at general climbing I concentrated on an obscure aspect of the sport in a desperate effort to shine. Much time has been devoted to new routing, which is very time consuming but rewarding. I remain slave to the discipline of crack and chimney grovelling, though I have been dragged by youths, in the last few years into an appreciation of the wonders of remote bouldering.