Paul Ross - 500th New Route - Aged 73

© Paul Ross Collection
The 'Team 500' on route - yes that is spiderman...!  © Paul Ross Collection
The 'Team 500' on route - yes that is spiderman...!
© Paul Ross Collection

Paul Ross attempting pitch one of his 500th new route - Team 500  © Paul Ross Collection
Paul Ross attempting pitch one of his 500th new route - Team 500
© Paul Ross Collection

British Expat Climbs 500th New Route on Utah Sandstone, USA

Paul Ross started climbing back in 1953, soloing easier climbs on his then local cliff of Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale in the Lake District. A year later Paul led his first new route with an ascent of Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect (HVS) on Black Crag, Borrowdale.

He recently made the first ascent of Team 500, a three pitch 5.11- trad route in the Three Finger Canyon area, Utah. This is his 500th new route, and the 73 year old Englishman has more to come:

"I have lots of projects in sight ...I hope the body holds up a few more months!"

Paul made a total of 138 first ascents in the UK, including the very difficult Post Mortem (E3 5c) on Eagle Crag in Borrowdale back in 1956. It is thought that this route was the first of that grade in the Lake District and it is no push over even today.

A quick glance through the UKC Logbooks shows that UKC users Franco Cookson and Dave Warburton (E8 and E7 first ascensionists on their home turf of the North York Moors...!) were unable to complete the route when they attempted it back in 2008. Franco commented:

"I led on scared and knackered - made my own fist jam out of a pile of chockstones and led up the green crux. I was slipping and the holds were buried. I eventually had to down climb the whole route - it was too steep to ab for the gear. A failure, but an experience..."

The route line of Team 500  © Paul Ross Collection
The route line of Team 500
© Paul Ross Collection

Paul left the UK in 1968 and landed in the US, working for Outward Bound. For the next twenty years he put up first ascents in several different places in the US, specialising in huge girdle traverses, up to 2000m in length.

In 1988 he was back in the Lake District, where he climbed another 60 first ascents. Of these, he is most pleased with his two routes on Honister Crag (both E3 5c) and Swan Song (E2 5c) on Scafell.

Paul explained: "I never had too much interest in established rock climbs. I always felt that ground up / on sight FA's are the purest form of climbing."

Around that time Paul also managed twenty first ascents in Morocco, climbing with "the old chap Joe Brown - a great lad."

Paul then moved back to the USA in 1998, eventually settling in a small town in Colorado  close to the Utah border in the Moab area.

Paul gave UKC the lowdown on his recent new routes in the Utah desert:

"Here one can do pure adventure climbs on sight up 400' towers and up to 2000' slabs. In the last 8 years most were done carrying a Bosch Drill on one's back, as hand drilling in most sandstone leaves the hole too big for the bolts and usually small angle pitons have to be used.

We have climbed about 39 previously unclimbed towers and some new routes on established towers. Two FA's I liked were our 900' girdle around the Famous Castleton Tower near Moab,and the FA of the 800' Texas Tower. Many of these FA's on Towers involved aid . We rarely if ever use pitons for aid, all are done using clean gear and bolts on blank sections. Over the last eight years we have done about 150 FA's in the Eastern Reef area of the San Rafael Swell ,Utah - both slab and wall climbs up to 6a (and of course another girdle a mile and a quarter long at 5b!)."

You can check out more details of some of Paul's ascents on the Mountain Project Site on the following links:

Paul Ross on his first ever day on rock - soloing Little Chamonix in 1953 - We were actually looking for Jackdaw nests...
© Paul Ross Collection

Lance Bateman and Paul Ross celebrate after Paul's 500th new route.  © Paul Ross
Lance Bateman and Paul Ross celebrate after Paul's 500th new route.
© Paul Ross

This post has been read 19,379 times

Return to Latest News

Support UKC

As climbers we strive to make UKClimbing the kind of website we would love to visit, with the most up-to-date news, diverse and interesting articles, comprehensive gear reviews, breathtaking photographs and a vast and useful logbook system. As a result, an incredible community has formed around the site - we’ve provided the framework but it’s you who make the website what it is today. If you appreciate the content we offer then you can help us by becoming an official UKC Supporter. This can be a one-off single annual payment or a more substantial payment paid monthly or yearly which includes full access to Rockfax Digital and discounts on Rockfax print publications.

If you appreciate UKClimbing then please help us by becoming a UKC Supporter.

UKC Supporter

  • Support the website we all know and love
  • Access to a year's subscription to Rockfax Digital.
  • Plus 30% off Rockfax guidebooks
  • Plus Show your support UKC porter badge on your profile and forum posts
UKC/UKH/Rockfax logo

14 Oct, 2010
Very, very impressive. The bugger looks in his 50's as well...
14 Oct, 2010
Loving the spiderman outfit! And the photo of Little Chamonix near the bottom. Great. Jack
14 Oct, 2010
Bloody brilliant! Shows that it's never over until you give up. Keep going mate. Keep going... Mick
14 Oct, 2010
Nice one Paul, you've had nearly as many wives!
14 Oct, 2010
If I am that fit in 2026 I'll be well chuffed. One wife been quite enough though. Almost 30 years and no complaints (except that nut curry).Well done Paul.
More Comments
Loading Notifications...
Facebook Twitter Copy Email