Leo’s name is synonymous with adventure climbing. His success has led to media appearances on Top Gear and to being pitched as one of Britain’s top ten adventurers by The Telegraph. But don’t get the wrong idea, all this media attention is well deserved—Leo is without doubt the ‘real deal’.
Leo grew up in the Lakes and started climbing in 1990 at the age of 10. Just six months later he acquired the taste for adventure climbing when he became the youngest climber to conquer the famous Scottish sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy. By the time Leo was 15 he had become the British Junior Indoor Climbing Champion. In 1997 he moved to North Wales and started to make a name for himself, onsighting bold trad climbs such as Master’s Wall (E7 6b) on Clogwyn Du’r Arddu.
In 1998, aged only 18, Leo landed in Yosemite with the similarly youthful Patch Hammond and made a landmark ascent: a virtual onsight repeat of the Huber brothers’El Niño(5.13c, 30 pitches) just days after the brothers had made the first free ascent.
Back in North Wales he made the first ascent of Trauma (E8 7a) on Dinas Mot and nabbed the second ascent of Bungle’s Arête (8b) on the Rainbow Slab in the Dinorwig slate quarries. The challenge of bold, technical gritstone routes also appealed and Leo showed good form onsighting Deathwatch (E7 6c) at Ilkley and Strangeness (E7 6c) at Caley. However, his true desires lay on the big walls and in 2001 he proved this again by free climbing The West Face of the Leaning Tower (5.13a, 5 pitches) in Yosemite.