John Alcock

About John Alcock

Climbing is in John Alcock's bood. His parents had met climbing and introduced him to the sport on the cliffs of South Wales when he was just 9 years old. They trusted him to an extent that is hard to imagine today. By the age of 11 he was creating new climbs. At the age of 12 he was leading parties of scouts across the Brecon Beacons. After moving to Glasgow when he was 13, John's parents set him free to climb Scotland's mountains on his own. At the age of 16 he became perhaps the youngest person to traverse Sky's Cuillin Ridge alone. By the time he was 18 John had developed a life-long passion for ice climbing and proceeded to solo many of Scotland's classic hard ice routes.

But soon John's climbing had to be squeezed in between his commitment to a career in news journalism. John won his first national journalism prize while still at primary school and after graduating from the University of York, he worked his way up through Independent Local Radio in the Bristol area to reporting for Independent Radio News and becoming Sony Reporter of the Year for his coverage of the Lockerbie Disaster. A move to Independent Television News (ITN) saw John involved in the coverage of many huge national and international stories, including a stint in Kuwait and Iraq during the first Gulf War, followed by three trips to the heart of the Bosnian Civil War. Later John moved back to Bristol and for 30 years he was News Editor at HTV (now ITV News West Country)- leading the news-gathering team which won a Royal Television Society Award for its coverage of the fire which destroyed the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare. He also produced documentaries for ITV on the climber Mike Banks and the cave diver Rob Parker.

Despite the restraints of his career, John proceeded to climb many of the South West's most adventurous rock climbs and to pioneer a number of first ascents in Pembroke and the Avon Gorge. Level Headed, a three pitch E7 at Avon climbed with his friend Ben Bransby, remains unrepeated 27 years after the first ascent. John has climbed all over the world from sweaty sport-climbing in Thailand to the chilly remoteness of Alaska. His resume includes several of the most famous North Faces in the Alps and North America, along with many of the planet's most renowned ice climbs. The Ginat Route on the North Face of the Droites in winter, vertical ice pillars such as Bridalveil Falls in Colorado and Repentance Super in Cogne and solo ascents of classic climbs such as the Gabarrou Albinoni on Mont Blanc du Tacul have been among the highlights. Two hip replacements have not slowed him down. In fact he climbed his hardest rock routes after his 60th birthday and with his friend Mike "Twid" Turner has recently put up a number of new ice climbs inside the Arctic Circle, on the remote Norwegian island of Senja. John is less bold than in his twenties, but continues to climb and ski solo when in the mood. His enthusiasm for adventure remains as strong as ever.