A tour around the entire map of Ireland showcasing the very best climbing, the secret gems, funny epics and the finest lines.
Ricky Bell gives a talk and shows some short films about his experience climbing in Ireland.
Belfast based Ricky has been the undisputed star of the climbing scene in Ireland since he broke through in the mid-noughties. He has dabbled with most climbing styles but is a trad climber at heart; his track record of hard repeats and first ascents in Ireland shows this in spades.
Ricky started climbing in ‘94, having already been inducted at an early age into an adventurous lifestyle by his mum and dad.
“My parents introduced me and my sisters to adventures from an early age. They took us out into the hills, down rivers and into the sea. Rocks and ropes where always my favorite.”
Family holidays consisted of camping trips (in a “grotty trailer tent”
) to some of Britain and Ireland’s best climbing locations, namely North Wales, Scotland, the Lakes, and the Peak. Closer to home Fair Head, the Mourne Mountains and The Burren became regular destinations.
As Ricky got older he was taken under the wing of some of the big faces in the Irish climbing scene:
“Phil Holmes took me up harder routes and taught me some valuable skills. Ali Moles and Ron Browner encouraged me onto the harder routes. With these two I onsighted my first E5 and clipped my first F8a.”
While some of his peers left Ireland, tempted by the Pennine crags and training facilities of Sheffield, Ricky stayed in Belfast and studied Engineering at University. Any spare time was spent exploring the delights of Fair Head and the Mournes.
Over the last decade Ricky has become absorbed in hard 1st
ascents on trad, remote pioneering and exploration.
Ricky has travelled widely around the world, climbing at many of the high profile venues in France, Majorca, Sardinia, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and the US. Despite all that he lists a number of classic trad routes in America as holding the finest memories for him. That list includes Positive Vibrations
5.11c on the Incredible Hulk in the High Sierra and various Yosemite routes such as The Alien
5.12b, The Bachar/Yerian
5.11c X, Astroman
5.11c, The Regular North West Face – Half Dome
5.12a and The Nose
on El Capitan.
Ricky is also a keen boulderer and has visited Fontainebleau almost every year since he was 16. Back home in Ireland, he has climbed many classic first ascents on the impressive Fair Head boulders.
He’s ticked some sought after classic big routes too – during a trip to Red Rocks in the States, he climbed the superb Rainbow Wall
5.12a with his old friend Si Moore. He also did the West Face of El Cap 5.11c in Yosemite.
When he is not climbing Ricky does a mix of rope access work and route setting to pay the bills. He also runs a coaching company with his old friend, and Ireland’s top boulderer, Michael Duffy.
No doubt the future holds many more wild climbing adventures for Ricky, but whatever happens his passion for new routing in Ireland remains undimmed; he will always love the ‘process’:
“It’s mad, you invest so much time and effort into these routes or boulders or whatever it is that is your wee ‘project’, spend weeks training specifically for them, nights thinking about them and dreaming up a name that fits your experience. You climb up it in 30mins and it’s all over.
You take one last long look at it as if shaking hands with a close friend that know you’ll never really see much of again. And that’s it, you move on to the next wee project. Simple.”
Date: Sun 10 March 2019
Time: 19:00 – 20:30 GMT