The fourth of our Breo Heroes facing interrogation is Steve Holmes. Steve is a qualified mountaineering instructor based in Fort William, Scotland where he runs the mountain guiding company Vertical Fever.
How long have you been climbing?
I was brought up close to the Lake District and so my parents took me hill walking at a very early age, I then started to climb rock and ice about 14 years ago.
How did you get involved?
After leaving school I joined the Royal Marines, it was here that I got my first taste of easy rock climbing and winter mountaineering. I suppose most people joining the military get introduced to climbing in one way or another, for me it was just an extension of my love for hill walking and scrambling, only to climb you had to carry twice as much kit! Climbing is an unusual sport in that you need someone else to come along with you to ‘hold the ropes’. At first none of my friends were interested so I would go off on my own and solo easy routes, after a year doing this I managed to meet team up with a friend of a friend who was much more experienced, and so dragged me up hard routes in return for holding his ropes.
What’s your proudest achievement so far?
Hard to say really. I have been very fortunate to travel and work all over the world. I suppose surviving three years in the Middle East working as a security contractor is something to be very proud of as was finishing Royal Marines training. With regards to climbing, I managed to progress through the grades last year with a breakthrough when I climbed my first E5 called ‘On the Beach’ in Glen Nevis. Following this I went on to repeat ‘The Rebellion’ a bold E6 at Lochailort Slab, both of which I felt very proud to have achieved/survived!
What motivates you?
A challenge. I always feel like I want to do things at my limit, whether that be in sport, work or whatever crosses my path in life. Strangely though, I am not competitive with other people and have never entered a climbing competition. The personal challenge to see how far I can push my own body and mind is what really motivates me.
Who’s your hero?
Spiderman – what climber wouldn’t want those powers ha!
What are your hopes for the future?
Stay fit, healthy and motivated. I work in the mountains full time and have spent alot of money and energy getting the necessary experience and qualifications. It takes years to build up a client base as-well as proving your worth to other guides and instructors so they trust you with their clients. Injury can put a stop to all the fun and work as can doing too much and losing the motivation to get out there and push yourself. It’s nice to have a few inspiring trips on the horizon to keep the psych; for me that means the Alps, Bulgaria and going back to the Himalaya.
Any tips for aspiring climbers?
Buy a campervan, travel the world and climb as much as you can. Climbing really is a way of life, it doesn’t matter what grades you climb there is a great community out there to get involved with.
How would you spend £1 million?
Family & friends would get a large portion of it. I would also buy land and build a house in the Highlands, (with a drying room and climbing wall of course). Purchase a new Campervan and travel for a year with the other half and our husky dog. Save the rest for a rainy day.