© Ray Wood
Born in Sheffield and brought up on the Peak grit crags by his dad Phil, Pete had a solid grounding in the technical skills required for hard climbing right from an early age. As he grew older he also had the benefit of having gritstone masters such as John Allen to act as a mentor both on the crag and down the pub afterwards. He soon showed great promise and developed his remarkable climbing style.
Pete climbs quickly and uses his feet in extraordinarily inventive ways. One of his nicknames (he has many) is ‘Golden Heels’; this moniker was inspired by his astonishing ability to heel hook anything that comes in his path as he glides up route after route.
After serving an extensive gritstone apprenticeship, which included ticking almost every climb on Curbar during guidebook research work, Pete moved to Llanberis in 2000. Early years in North Wales were spent onsighting many of the classic test pieces such as Zero E7 6b on Suicide Wall in Cwm Idwal and Rumblefish E7 6c on Dinas Cromlech.
Trips over to the Pennine grit were still important and Pete fulfilled a number of life long ambitions, flashing End of the Affair E8 6b at Curbar and making a ground up ascent of Master’s Edge E7 6b at Millstone.
Back in North Wales the slate scene was buzzing and Pete had steadily worked his way through the hardest routes, adding a few of his own along the way. He was certainly climbing well, but the real game changer occurred over the winter of 2007/8 when extended bouldering sessions in Parisella’s Cave and trips to Fontainebleau started to pay dividends. The big bouldering numbers began to fall and soon after Pete completed The New Slatesman, a fierce F8b in the Dinorwig Quarries. He followed this shortly after with the first full repeat of the famous Johnny Dawes route, The Quarryman E8 6c in Twll Mawr.
During the same year Pete teamed up with Ben Bransby and made an extremely adventurous ground up first ascent of Monkey Journey to the West E7 6c on one of the most impressive crags in the UK, Mount Sion West in Pembroke.
Pete on Pump up the Jams F8c © Ray Wood
More long hard hours in Parisella’s Cave lead to the second ascent of the phenomenal power endurance problem Silk Cut V13/Font 8B. With this level of strength and fitness Pete was finally ready to do battle with the hard sport routes downstairs on Lower Pen Trwyn. The obvious target route was Jerry Moffatt’s Liquid Ambar F8c/+, which fell after many sessions and much effort. The following year (2010) Pete cleaned up yet more repeats on LPT, culminating in the second ascent of Ben Moon’s route Sea of Tranquility F8c+.
That autumn he returned to Parisella’s Cave and nailed the full version of The Incredible Bulk, then following spring he followed it up with arguably ‘the’ line of cave, namely Dorsal Stream, which connects Lou Ferrino into Bonnie. Both rate hard V13/Font 8B or solid F8c+.
In the summer of 2011 Pete was narrowly pipped to the post on the first ascent of Megalopa F8c+ down on LPT, but he made good by grabbing the second ascent shortly after and in the process completed the trilogy of F8c+s on this challenging crag.
2012 was another good year; in October he completed the stunning Diamond Dogs F8c+ on Little Orme, but there were several other impressive ascents. In the quarries he climbed The Dark Tower F8a+, a super technical test piece, and on Craig Ystumiau he flashed the first ascent of The Last Prince E7 6c.
Pete also started a very fruitful bouldering campaign in the Ogwen Valley. Thus far this has yielded a number of impressive highballs, a desperate 8B called Isles of Wonder, and in early 2013, the first ascent of the most striking boulder problem in the valley: Snapdragon 8A.
During the summer of 2013 he continued to pick off the big lines on the Llandudno limestone. In June he climbed Pump up the Jam F8c, the infamous Pigeon’s Cave crack project, and then in July he forced a route through the massive central roof of Pigeon’s Cave. Dark Energy F8c+ is an outrageous line which crosses 15m of horizontal roof before finally turning the lip. In August a dabble with some deep water soloing on Little Orme saw Pete make the first ascent of the Tide is High F8a+.
Being the true allrounder that he is, there was no surprise when Pete joined forces with James McHaffie for a 'Super Sunday' on Dinas Mot in the Llanberis Pass. The result was four new trad routes, including Tropic of Cancer, a four pitch E7 7a.
Pete on Bytilith Wall 7C+/8A! © Si Panton
Over the 2013/14 winter Pete turned his attention to the dolerite bouldering crags close to Porth Ysgo on the Lleyn Peninsula. He was rewarded with three stunning first ascents on perfect rock. First to fall was Speak of the Devil 8A an immaculate line at Far Nefoedd; Pete followed this up with two impressive highballs: The Big Orange 8A! at Trwyn Talfarach and the nearby Bytilith Wall 7C+/8A! .
A burst of early spring sunshine prompted more new route activity from Pete on Little Orme. The Runner Bean F8a+ and Triton F8b are both proud lines and great additions to the roster of classic grade eight routes on the Llandudno limestone.
In June 2014 Pete developed Fedw Fawr, a superb limestone bouldering crag close to his new house on Anglesey. His best effort was the immaculate Mônster 8A. The following month he then went on to complete the epic Ropes of Maui 8B inside the Barrel Cave in the Llanberis Pass. The route-like proportions of this line left him well set for his next goal, a major sport project on the Diamond which he had tried numerous times the previous year. This time it went down quickly and The Pink Star F8c+ was added to Pete’s ever-growing list of high grade first ascents on the Llandudno Ormes.
"In the early days I climbed with my dad and Graham Parkes mostly on the grit, who both encouraged me to progress and gave me lifts out to the crag (and bought me beers afterwards)! Later John Allen took me under his wing and we did first ascents from his back log of last great lines on the eastern edges. This was a brilliant apprenticeship."