PODCAST: Factor Two - S2 Episode 5: Patch Hammond - No More Heroes?

In this podcast series, Wil Treasure shares stories from the climbing world through interviews with both well-known and lesser-known characters. In-depth, personal accounts that aren't read from a page on a variety of themes. Settle down with a cuppa and have a listen...

Patch Hammond has remained a bit of an enigma in the climbing world. If you flick through the magazines from the late 1990s you'll see a scruffy youth with an impressive climbing CV – onsighting E6 and E7 in North Wales and climbing with the likes of Tim Emmett, Neil Gresham and Leo Houlding.

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park.  © UKC Articles
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park.

In the last episode we heard from Leo about their ascent of El Niño on El Capitan – Leo's first big wall. Patch and Leo had travelled to Yosemite together, but while Leo was socialising at Camp Four and becoming part of the Yosemite scene, it was Patch who was heading off trying to get better at the style of climbing there. Patch met Ben Bransby for the first time in the valley. Encouraged by the Huber brothers, the two of them set out to repeat Freerider – the same route featured in Free Solo with Alex Honnold. They set off from the base of the wall to attempt it ground up with no experience and borrowed gear and made an impressive effort. They didn't quite manage to free climb the route, but put in what was at the time the most impressive British attempt on El Capitan.

Under the wing of the Hubers, Patch talked Leo into attempting El Niño, telling him that he'd already done a 5.13a pitch and was convinced Leo would stand a chance of onsighting 5.13b. Plus the route would suit them – no crack climbing on this one, slabs and adventure climbing exactly like they'd been training on in the slate quarries and at Gogarth.

Patch's memories of those years climbing revolve around the community he became a part of, and the mentors who guided him. He still seems in awe of the fact that he could be a part of this scene where everyone was a hero to him. He didn't seem to realise that maybe he was one of them, too.

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12 Sep

Probably the best climbing podcasts out there (of those I've listened to anyway)

Really good stories told by great characters.

12 Sep

My god this is sooo good, what legends! Also really refreshing to have a nicely produced climbing podcast, with good sound, good narrative and no rambling, climbing podcast are normally so sh*te

12 Sep

Absolute gold dust. Loved this along with the Leo one. Two of my hero’s and that period in North Wales and their ascent of El Cap basically we’re my inspiration when I started climbing.

NickDixon always recounts how good Patch was in this era.

Ive still never met Patch. It’s great to hear this podcast and hear the tales first hand.

14 Sep

So good! The last two have been class, great work.

15 Sep

Enjoyed this a lot listening whilst vacuuming yesterday! The only thing I did end up annoyed that it wasn't discussed was: what is Patch up to these days? All those late 90s stories were a big part of my climbing life back then, but then he disappeared from the magazines. Did he just get a 'normal' job and does a bit of climbing at the weekend (I suppose like most of us)? Or did he find another sport he loved and just stop climbing? I remember reading that Adam Wainwright started surfing and pretty much stopped climbing seriously - does Patch have a similar story?

I don't seem to be able to shake climbing, even at my rather lowly level - so I'm interested in how others' relationship to it has developed and changed over the years.

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