Friday, December 30, 2011
I first met Gareth as a student at the University of Sheffield, where he was a member of both climbing clubs if my memory is correct (one was clearly not enough for his level of enthusiasm). We climbed a little over the intervening years but it was on a handful of productive trips to Hoy, Pembroke and the Scottish Highlands that I recognised his natural talent for climbing.
One of my overriding memories is summed up by the image above. Gareth is pictured on the main pitch of the Old Man of Hoy, climbed in a weekend from Sheffield for Simon King's stag do - Gareth definitely being one of the driving forces behind the trip.
A few years ago I was myself recovering from a badly fractured Tibia and Gareth kindly suggested that we went climbing in Scotland as part of my rehabilitation. An excellent idea. After braving a length journey to Fort William we started walking from the North Face car park early in the morning. Planning to do a route in Coire na Ciste was an ordeal as my leg resembled a match stick as I limped up the path. Gareth on the other hand actually made astonishing speed, despite walking effectively on tip toes in his stiff mountain boots - one of his ankles being practically fused. I eventually made made it up to the bottom of the route and pulled the rope out. Asking Gareth where the rack was, he casually announced that I was carrying it. I didn't have it, and between us we had an inadequate selection of hardware. This didn't phase Gareth at all as he carefully set off first, rigging the pitches nicely so I got the crux...!
My thoughts go out to Gareth's wife Julia and his family. Gareth's infectious enthusiasm will be sadly missed.