Tom Ballard

7b in Grimsel Massone Grindelwald Via Italia 61 - 8a Disturbia M9

Tom Ballard was born in the Peak District of England in 1988 before moving to the Highlands of Scotland in 1995. Here he went to school in the sight and smell of Britain’s highest mountain – Ben Nevis 4406 ft. He has never had any other wish or thought than to be a climber. 

What sets him apart from his peers is the pure simple enjoyment and satisfaction he finds in being on his own. As the mood takes from boulders to alpine faces he enjoys it all. At the moment he seems most content and happiest in solo alpinism. Although mixed climbing runs it a close second. A creative climber he gains quiet satisfaction in either creating new routes or making free ascents of climbs that formerly used aid. 

Mixed climbing suits both his temperament and physique. Besides his own creations at Nellembalm, Val Udai, Uschenen, Grotta Prinoth and Eptigen, he has climbed Vertical Limit M12 and made the second ascents of Spiderman M13, Superman 13+, and Ironman M14+. 

He particularly took to the airy style of the Dolomites where he has enjoyed over 160 routes, most of them solo. During the winter season of 2013 on the Catinaccio he was definitely pleased with his first ascent of the 1960 aid classic into Via Olimpia – Going for Gold as an F8a free climb. To balance out the ‘sport style’ he also added a new route; Just Like a Pill VIII+/IX- ,a ‘trad or adventure style’, route at the right-hand side of the East Face.   

Tom learnt to ski and snowboard in the ephemeral winters of the Scottish Highlands strapping on his first skis at five and a snowboard as seven year old.  Where as long as the grass and heather is white; it must be the ski season. Gullies and couloirs are to his taste whether in Les Ecrins, Val di Fassa or the Bernese Oberland he  enjoys all aspects of this winter wonder world whether it be ski extreme or freeride or old fashioned ski alpine! Call them what you may.

The Bernese Oberland and the North Face of the Eiger are the mountains he learnt his alpine craft on.  Where amongst others he made the first solo ascents of The North Pillar Direct  and Locherspiel.  Later he free-climbed the The North Pillar Direct as Solitaire F6c+. The forgotten North Face of the Agassizhorn 3953m gave him a new route  600m If Ghengis Can, We Can  ED  Wi4 M5 and he made most probably the first solo of the uber classic Tillman – Welzenbach on the North Face of the Gross Fiescherhorn 4048.8m! 

He has climbed and descended over a 110 alpine climbs mostly alone. 


band; Pink Floyd, book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, foods; pasta and chocolate, drink; water, approach shoe; Vitamin, rock shoe; Instinct, alpine boot; Phantom 6000, ski boot; Rush, and quotation “All men dream: But not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” (T.E. Lawrence.)