Emma Twyford is one of the reigning queens of British climbing, best known for her trad climbing prowess. Her exceptional CV of onsights and flashes up to E8, alongside hard E9 headpoints, provides convincing evidence of her comfort on the sharp end, and sets an impressive bar for modern-day British trad. She has also bouldered 7C+ and, in September 2019, she became the first British woman to break into the ninth grade with her ascent of The Big Bang in North Wales. As well as being a top climber, Emma has a BSc in Sport Science and Coaching, is a successful freelance route setter, runs women’s route setting workshops and bakes a mean meringue roulade.
Emma was born in Exeter in 1986 but grew up in the Lakes and was introduced to climbing by her father at his friends at the age of seven.
“I was very lucky growing up in the Lakes,” says Emma. “My dad and his friend Mike Park started me off and showed me how to lead and place gear well. Having Mike as a mentor was great, as he taught me how to climb safely and competently. Then as I got older I went out climbing with Caff [James McHaffie], which was great as we did lots of cool climbs together and he really pushed my standards whilst being super chilled and psyched.”
Emma started competing indoors at the age of 10 and from the age of 14 competed on the GB Team. As a teenager she was British Junior Bouldering Champion. She continued to toy with competitions until her early twenties, gaining some good international results, including 5th in the 2001 European Youth Championship rounds and 4th in the 2002 Senior International Masters. Despite the success, competitions were not where her heart lay and in 2009 Emma left competitions behind.