Ben is widely recognised as one of the best climbers operating in the UK. He has an impressive record of ascents spread across a range of different disciplines—what follows here are merely some of the highlights of his remarkable climbing life.
He was born within one mile of Almscliff, the famous Yorkshire grit crag, and was introduced to climbing by his parents, who are also keen climbers. By the time he was 11 he had lead his first extreme, Short Circuit (E2 5c) at Ilkley. Ben also rose quickly through the youth competition climbing ranks; in fact he was the first ever junior champion in 1992.
A move to Cirencester gave him access to the vibrant Bristol climbing scene and a host of new experiences on the sea cliffs of Pembroke and Devon, plus a range of serious trad routes at Avon. He was also traveling a lot and onsighted his first E5, Right Wall on Dinas Cromlech, in 1994. Ben's confidence continued to grow and by 1996, at the age of 17, he onsighted E7. A couple of years later he headpointed the exceptionally bold Chupacabra E8 in Huntsman Leap in Pembroke.
A degree course in mechanical engineering brought him north to a communal climbers' house in Leeds, which he shared with other talented young climbers. such as Patch Hammond, Adam Long and Ben Tetler. He was soon onsighting grit E7s, like Messiah at Burbage, and managed to boulder 8B.
In 2000 he flashed Carmen Picasso (E8 6c) at Gorple; even though there was a pre-placed wire this was recognised as the first ever E8 flash. In 2002 he freed The Nose on the Sgurr of Eigg (E8 6c) with James McHaffie.
Despite his love of the British crags Ben's sights were set on bigger challenges; following on from the first ascent of The Thumbnail, a 1400m E6 in Greenland he made ascents of Salathé Wall and The Nose (in only 11 hours!) on El Cap in Yosemite and then a one-day free ascent of Freerider, a 31 pitch 5.12d, also on El Cap.