John Alcock

Email User

I am short, loud, deaf, permanently enthusiastic and notorious as the least flexible climber in Britain. Dubbed "the sixties porn star" by Ian Parnell (wore moustache from age 17 till the spring of this year", and "TV John" by Bristol wall users where I route-set.
Began climbing aged 9 at Taffs Well, then Gower. Climbed with Perrin, Crew etc in N Wales.
Moved to Scotland aged 13. My parents tried to get rid of me by sending me off munro-bagging on my own.Got lost a few times but never told them.
Soloed the Cuillin Ridge, aged 16.
At 17 got conned into leading Raven's Gully in Winter and began an ice-climbing spree. In the next few years soloed most Ben Nevis classics such as Minus Two, Point Five, Zero, Orion Direct, Vanishing.
Brief appearance on grit while at uni at York, then moved to Bristol in 1983.
Climbed 90 per cent of Avon routes in varying styles, including 4th ascent of To be is Not to Bolt and 1st ascent (with Ben Bransby) of the unrepeated E7 Level Headed.
Spent years following in the steps of Littlejohn and Fowler, including ascents with Ben of Caveman and Breakaway.
Became a Pembroke addict- still hooked. Have helped with the bird-ban surveys.
In my 40s I got into Alpine rock, with fun walls in the Dollies, Bregalia, Picos and USA. Diamond, Epinephrine and Scenic Cruise were my favourites.
I've done the Comici on the Cima Grande and the Cassin on the Badile with Frank Thompson.
I finally got back into ice climbing with a trips to Ouray, Veil, Cogne and Kandersteg. Ascents of Bridalveil, Rigid Designator and Stairway to Heaven (on Xmas Day) were highlights.
Had both hips replaced, which has changed my life.
I apologise for creating some of the loosest, crapiest routes ever done at Avon and Pembroke, but they're not a patch on Fowler's worst.
I learnt to ski post 40 despite a total inability to snow-plough due to arthritis.
A few year ago I went to Canada and failed on the Lotus Flower Tower (due to going out unfit after a crap UK summer) but later did Angels Crest at Squamish.
One winter I amused everyone down the Bristol Wall by climbing in big boots and a sack in training for an attempt on the Eiger. Unfortunately good conditions and a partner didn't co-incide, but I did ski into Alpine routes for the first time including solo ascents of the Chere Couloir and the Gabarrou-Albinoni on the Tacul. A few weeks after my 50th birthday I completed the Haute Route ski tour.
A few years ago I got into red-pointing for the first time. Did my first 7b (All Hands to the Pump)and then my first 7b+ (Chulilla). I've done quite a few 7b pluses since, but 7c remained elusive (no thanks to Frank Thompson for breaking holds off my projects.
I've had mixed fortunes in the mountains recently. I went to Alaska with Twid to try to Cassin Ridge on Denali, but was thwarted by heavy snow. Went back some years later and was thwarted by weather again, but did go part way up the Moonflower and narrowly avoid a huge serac collapse.
However in February 2012 we climbed the North Face of Les Droites in a day which was very satisfying if a bit exhausting.
In 2020 I retired at 60, 3 days into lockdown. Seems to have done me good as I finally climbed my first 7cs and led an E6 for the first time in decades. I even drilled my first sport route. I am still a useless boulderer, have become a rather wimpy trad climber, pretty professional red-pointer and a fairly bold off-piste skier. Just trying to stay alive, uninjured and get things done. Favourite climb this year- Heart of Darkness solo and by a new variation- pure climbing joy.


Best Climbing Experience
Impossible question.
Some highlights:
Solos in 1970's of ice classics such as Orion Direct and Point Five.
South West adventure classics such as America, Caveman and Breakaway with my mate Ben Bransby.
Endless great Pembroke days, particularly on-sight new routing and easy solos.
Casual Route, the Diamond with my forrmer partner Lorne
Comici Route, Cima Grande Cassin on the Badile and Scenic Cruise as Black Canyon with Frank Thomson.
La Demande, Verdon
Diedre UBSA, Penyon d'Ifach
Bridalveil Falls with Mark Miller.
Ginat Route, Les Droites with Twid
2 Alaska trips with Twid even though we didn't get up much.

Favourite Climbing-Related Discussion Topic
Slagging off bouldering and sport climbing even though I enjoy both.

Recent Postings

  • No posts in last 30 days

List all my recent posts.

Interests Outside Climbing
Media, wine, cycling, Avon Toad Rescue, Bristol Otter Survey

Anything Else We Should Know
Journalist, currently News Editor at ITV West. Worked all over the world for IRN, ITN etc including stints in the Gulf and Sarajevo.
Done some adventure film-making though not as much as I'd like including documentaries on Mike Banks and Rob Parker.

Read more about user profiles and how to set up your own.

Loading Notifications...