Jesse is a blind climber best known for his trad climbing. He has on-sighted trad routes up to E3 and climbed iconic British test pieces, such as The Old Man of Hoy and The Sloth, coining the phrase "non-sight" to describe the style of his ascents. He was also the first known visually impaired person to make first ascents in the Arctic. Jesse is a member of the GB Paraclimbing Team, British champion in his category and currently ranked 4th globally in IFSC competitions.
Jesse suffers from the genetic condition rod-cone dystrophy, as well as astigmatism and cataracts. As a child Jesse had approximately 20% central vision and his sight continued to decline into adulthood.
His blindness has never been an obstacle to his climbing however and Jesse has three decades' worth of climbing under his belt since being introduced to the sport by his father at the age of two. A childhood of trad climbing throughout the UK and bouldering in Fontainebleau, France, led to Jesse completing his first trad lead aged 11, by which time his sight was limited to about 20% blurry central vision and no peripheral vision.
Upon leaving home Jesse headed to the University of Bath to study for a four-year Master’s degree in Chemistry and joined the Mountaineering Club, continuing his love-affair with climbing every weekend and evening that weather and study allowed. During university his sight began to deteriorate more rapidly and by the time he was studying for his Ph.D. in materials chemistry he could no longer read.
“It began to be difficult to place gear as I could no longer see whether it was properly seated,” says Jesse. “I also stopped being able to pick out the holds at indoor walls. However this didn’t stop me climbing, I just learnt to adapt with the support of my friends.”