Northern England has some of the world’s best rock climbing.
But I always wondered what it would be like to climb in other places.
I’ve enjoyed ‘climbing’ since I was a teenager.
But it all really started one day when my friend Callum said:
Fresh out of university, I was supposed to start a career. With a long-term girlfriend, I was supposed to get married and have babies.
I couldn’t just leave everything behind and go climbing.
At a pivotal point in life, I decided to get my priorities straight.
So I quit my job, left my girlfriend and went to California.
After climbing those big rocks, this is what I thought would happen.
But in reality, it was more like this.
Losing my big-wall virginity was an incredibly powerful experience. It brought a whole new passion to my life.
I wanted more. I wanted to stay in America forever and climb big rocks. But, by law, I couldn’t.
So I stayed anyway as an illegal immigrant.
Back then, in my mid-twenties, life was simple. I worked temporary jobs, I lived in a van, I had no real commitments.
Climbing was just a fun thing to do.
Or at least, that’s how it all began.
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- Neil Chelton