BEN

When did you join the Highball Crew?
I joined in February 2017.

What's your current job title at Highball?
Climbing Coach.

What is your favourite thing about working at Highball?
The coffee. No, sorry, that’s flippant and untrue. The best thing about working at Highball is seeing people - particularly the kids - exceeding their own expectations of their abilities. I love introducing people to climbing and then seeing them improve and become increasingly addicted to the buzz of solving the plastic problems. And it doesn’t hurt that the Highball crew are such a decent bunch of folk to work with..

What are your climbing goals or projects for 2021?
What with lockdown and various injuries my climbing has taken a bit of a knock, so I’d like to get my grades back up to where they should be. In terms of actual routes, my goals tend to be pointy rather than just steep. The Matterhorn is top of my bucket list, as is Corsica’s GR20. And I want to get back to the Dolomites and stuff myself silly on via ferrata.

Favourite holiday destination?
The Italian Dolomites. Probably my most favourite place in the world.

Hobbies / Interests outside of work?
Motorbikes (riding rather than fixing - I’m a terrible mechanic), photography (although technically that’s part of my other job) and heavy metal music (up the Irons!).

Two truths and one lie.
I played American football when I was younger and had tryouts for the British youth team, I used to present a breakfast show on a local radio station, and the reason I’ve grown such a long beard is because I have a birthmark on my neck that looks a bit like the silhouette of a cock and balls.

"Coaching at Highball is a second job for me, my first being a writer/photographer for Trail magazine - the UK’s best-selling hill walking and light mountaineering publication (I’m contractually obliged to say that). But journalism doesn’t pay hugely and I need to fund my bourgeois lifestyle and, more importantly, my annual skiing trip.

I got into coaching by accident. I started climbing at Highball, then I took my kids climbing, then my friends, then my kids’ friends, then my friends’ kids. And I enjoyed introducing folk to climbing, so when the opportunity arose to get paid for doing it, it was a bit of a no brainer.

In truth, I guess I’m more of a mountaineer than a climber, with the climbing usually a means to a summit. But mountains are in rather short supply in Norfolk, and Highball is the next best thing that doesn’t involve a 6-hour drive.  When I’m not at Highball you’ll find me in my home office writing, testing outdoor gear, and wandering the high and pointy places of the UK and abroad - the via ferrata routes of the Dolomites are a particular addiction of mine. I have 1 wife, 3.5 children, a dog called Billie and a python called Monty. I’m a big fan of skiing, malt whisky, American football, and heavy metal music."