Andy is best known for his punishing Big Wall climbs including his 18 ascents of Yosemite's El Capitan – three of them solo and one an 18 hour ascent. In 2002 he completed a 15 day winter ascent of the West face of the Aiguille du Dru; a 1,000 metre pillar considered one of the toughest climbs in the French Alps and indeed in Europe. A further achievement is a 12 day solo of the Reticent Wall in the Yosemite Valley - one of the hardest climbs of its type in the world.
In 2006 he skied across Greenland with paralympic athlete Karen Darke, they covered the 600km from coast to coast in 28 days. A feat made more incredible by the fact that this was the first time in his life that he had clipped his boot into a ski binding.
He has taken part in 4 epic winter expeditions in Patagonia, including winter attempts on Torre Egger and Cerro Standhart with Ian Parnell. More recently he completed the first winter ascent of Suser Gjennom Harryland on Troll Wall in Norway. Along with his climbing partners – two Norwegian skiers, they made it up the 18 pitch route in 12 days.
“I haven't climbed Everest, skied to the poles, nor sailed single handed around the world. The goals I set out to accomplish aren't easily measured or quantified by world records or 'firsts'. The reasons I climb, and the climbs I do, are about more than distance or altitude, they are about breaking barriers within myself.” said Andy.
"A climber with a “strange penchant for the long, the cold and the difficult.”
The US magazine Climbing once described Andy as a climber with a “strange penchant for the long, the cold and the difficult”, with a reputation “for seeking out routes where the danger is real, and the return is questionable, pushing himself on some of the hardest walls and faces in the Alps and beyond, sometimes with partners and sometimes alone.”
Andy has recently returned from a trip to the North Face of the Eiger where he attempted the 52 pitch, 2006 Russian route. On the climb Andy and his team used Montane clothing and equipment to stay warm even in cold and treacherously wet ice climbing conditions.
Andy's partiality for “the long, the cold and the difficult” and affinity for climbing exposed faces in brutal climates coupled with Montane's focus of creating supremely technical gear for mountainous and extreme environments makes for a perfect partnership. Indeed, Montane and Andy are no strangers – Montane supported Andy back in his early career.