During the following years Ricky became ever more absorbed in hard trad climbing, exploration of new lines and building relationships within the climbing community.
“I'd met one of my best friends, Craig Hiller, photographer and fellow rock cleaner, and we found an amazing partnership in our love for running around the Mournes finding new lines and listening to electronic music,” says Ricky.
In 2006 he soloed the second ascent of Si Moore’s Crystal Methods (E8 6c) on Binnian North Torr in the Mournes. The following year he made the second ascent of The Rockafella (E7 6b), “a perfect line” at Fair Head. Then in 2007 he got the first ascent of Where the Grass is Green (E7 6c), another of the best E7s at Fair Head.
Divided Years, John Dunne’s remarkable route on Buzzard’s Roost in the Mournes remained the biggest challenge. Ricky saw the line when he first started climbing and had vowed to himself that he would climb it one day. At that time Dave Birkett and Dave McLeod had repeated the route but no Irishman had done the deed. In 2008, and after some epic, sweeping falls, Ricky became the “first Guinness drinker”, as he puts it, to climb the route. Originally given E10, the route has now settled to E8, but regardless of the grade it remains a major highpoint in Ricky’s climbing life.
In the following years Ricky continued to pick off extraordinary first ascents. Highlights included The Big Skin (E8 6c) at Fair Head, The Thing in the Forest (E7 6c) in the Cooley Mountains, (which he did ground up), and Sleazy Lover (E8 6c) on the spectacular East Face of Lower Cove in the Mournes.
In 2011 Ricky produced his finest new route when he succeeded on the magnificent prow of the Rathlin Wall at Fair Head: The Rathlin Effect (E8 6c):
“It's probably the hardest, and in my biased opinion, the best route in the country,” says Ricky. “It took about six sessions to actually find the line and clean it before I could climb on it. It runs through some really steep terrain so I had to aid climb the bottom section and clean it that way."