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March 10, 2016


Matt Helliker is one of the most prominent British alpinists. He has climbed around the globe, completing numerous and daring first ascents, proving himself as a talented climber.

Some of his ascents include:

  • Death or Glory on Huantsan Sur North East Buttress, Peru
  • There's a Moose Loose about this Hoose (ED4), East Face of the Moose's Tooth, Alaska
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (ED2), Mount Church, Ruth Gorge, Alaska
  • Meltdown (ED3), Mount Grosvenor, Ruth Gorge, Alaska
  • Rutless (VIII/8), Ben Nevis, Scotland
  • the second ascent of Babylon (VII/8), Ben Nevis, Scotland (with a new direct start)
  • second ascent of Pistol Grip Pump (F8b), Cheddar Gorge, UK
  • a first winter ascent of Cecchinel-Jager (VIII/8), Pointe Lachenal, France
  • first ascent of Birthright (V, 6, 4c, A2)  on the Grand Charmoz, France
  • second ascent of Plein Sud (900m VI, WI4+/5R, M6+), South Face of the Grandes Jorasses, France
  • Eyes Wide Shut (ED1, M6, AO, UIAA IV+) on the North East Face of Mont Rouge de Grouetta, France
  • Supercouloir de Peuterey Integral (TD) to the East North East Face of Mont Noire de Peuterey, France.

One of his hardest ascents is the Cartwright Connection (ED4, M6, AI6, 5.8, A2) on the North Buttress of Mount Hunter in Alaska. Along with Jon Bracey it took six days including a storm, running out of food and a big final 36-hour push which Matt described as the longest and hardest climb of his life.

Matt is currently living in Chamonix and he is an IFMGA mountain guide.

Matt and Jon recently climbed the Citadel, also known as “The Mountain God”. The Citadel is a 3000m peak in the Neacola Mountains, in Alaska. Matt and Jon embarked on a journey to make the first ascent of the 1200m long north-west ridge. Adventure film maker Alastair Lee joined them in this adventure, in order to capture alpine climbing like never before.

“Employing the latest cineflex technology combined with an innovative vision the final results are truly incredible; the next dimension in mountain film. ‘Citadel’ is a stunning visual experience. To match its visual prowess ‘Citadel’ is laced with a strong sense of narrative. Like all good stories it is character driven and centres around one of the most unlikely yet successful partnerships in world alpinism. That of Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey.” (Posing Productions)

Climbing an icy mountain

We asked Matt some questions:

When and how did the climbing bug catch on to you?

I started climbing aged 12. Where I grew up is a really amazing area for rock climbing in the South West of England, beautiful sea and inland cliffs on the moors. So I would always see climbers out and as a young boy this was really inspiring to me, so I just had to try it. The UK is one of the only places where you can enjoy all aspects of sport, so I feel that I was very lucky to experience this.

Who would you say inspired you the most during the years?

I had a friend who was a mentor to me, this was important. I think when you’re young and inexperienced, it's important to explore your limits yourself but to also be given a guiding hand. Rock climbing to winter climbing to alpinism has many aspects that needed to be learnt, so having someone there really helps with this progression.

You described your ascent of Cartwright Connection (ED4, M6, AI6, 5.8, A2) on the North Buttress of Mount Hunter in Alaska as the most demanding climb you did. Why is that?

It was big, hard and scary....

You are also a mountain guide. How do you manage to cope with training and climbing hard routes with guiding clients on easier routes?

Well, sometimes I guide clients on hard routes like the Matterhorn and Les Droites North Face, but for sure this work doesn't come up all the time. I'm lucky enough to make most of my income with sponsors, so I guess I'm climbing 80% full time, so thankfully I've got time to train and do my own projects.

Why is it so important to make the line for the first time? These and other “records” are pushing people in extreme hard conditions where they often risk their lives and sometimes even stay there forever. Being a strong climber is not enough? What is so addictive about being first?

I get so much satisfaction from being first, the feeling of not knowing whether a route will go or not adds to the buzz factor. I also really enjoy the research looking into new lines, to see what’s possible or not. I think I've got a good eye for a line. I still enjoy repeating classic hard routes, but most of the time I would rather fail on a new line than going and climbing routes that have been smashed to bits by hundreds of teams before me.

Have you ever been scared while climbing?

For sure, but it's "controlled" scared!! I think......

Any climbs for the future that you are planning for?

I have loads of projects in my black book! But I keep these to myself, careless talk costs routes.

What do you like doing in you spare time, except training and climbing?

To be honest I don't feel like I have much spare time in between training and climbing as this takes up most of my time, but hanging out with my girlfriend, skiing, family, traveling is also very important to me.

 Do you see yourself living at the same rhythm in 15 years?

Steady on I'm not done yet.... totally and loads more I hope.

What are you most proud of in your life so far?

Being happy and able to live the life I choose, for so many other people this is not possible and I'm aware of this.

From this prospective would you change anything in your life?

Nothing, I feel very lucky.


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