In Episode 8 I sit down with Andy Pollitt, originally from Wales, Andy emigrated to Australia in the early 90s after numerous trips down here for long stints at Arapiles.
Andy grew up in North Wales and was the Rock Star of British climbing in the eighties, pushing standards with other climbers you may have heard of like Jerry Moffat and Martin ‘Basher’ Andersen. Andy’s climbing epitomised the bold British climbing ethic.
It would be impossible to cover all of Andy’s exploits in one podcast and we focus on a few in depth stories of him soloing the Great Wall, and his experience on the Bells, the Bells where his skin, as he puts it, emitted the ‘pungent smell of death’.
I wanted to understand what it was like coming to Australia as a foreign climber back in that time, and Andy drops us into his first experiences landing in Natimuk, competitive drinking with the locals and heading out to try Tapian routes with Malcolm Matheson. Andy went on to put up first ascents on Taipan including Rage – an alternate start to Serpentine, and that most popular route World Party – Andy gives us the inside as to why the bolts on that route might feel a little spacey.
Finally we get into Punks in the Gym, that iconic Australian route that Andy put 44 days of effort into in his pursuit for the first true redpoint ascent. Andy details his battle with the route, and why he restored the hold which is now possibly the most well known hold in Australian climbing – the Birdbath! Immediately after sending the route, Andy gave away his climbing gear and left climbing behind.
These days Andy lives not far from me in Melbourne, and has built out a career in rope access work. We caught up a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning – so you’ll notice a little bit of noise in the background at times as his neighbor get stuck into a bit of yard work.
The podcast picks up where Andy has hit the road with Jerry Moffat – for those of you who may not know, Jerry Moffat was a dominating force in climbing in the 80s and early 90s – when they both finished school, they hit the road for a crag called Tremadoc and ‘dossed’ or as we might call it, dirtbagged in a barn, living on 50 pence a day, and climbing as much as possible.
You can pick up a copy of Andy’s book from Pinnacle Sports online here. If you’re in Melbourne you can also pick up a copy at Northside Boulders.