Tony Howard is a British climbing legend. In 1965 he was part of the team that made the first British ascent of the Troll Wall in Norway. He later went on to found Troll Climbing Equipment with Alan Waterhouse and was soon joined by Paul Seddon, manufacturing chocks and other climbing equipment, but it was with Don Whillans that Troll really made its name: together they designed the world's first climbing sit harness which Whillans used on the 1972 Annapurna expedition. This was later developed further with the addition of a belay loop in the Mk5 harness, and modern day harness design is largely unchanged from this Mk5 concept. Tony has spent his life travelling the world seeking out adventures, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
In this rare interview he talks about how he got into climbing around his home in the Chew Valley in the Peak District, learning of and then climbing the Troll Wall, founding Troll Equipment and harness design, and his later adventures in Jordan, where he discovered Wadi Rum and beyond.
Tony’s book about the Troll Wall climb was written in 1965 immediately after the ascent and then forgotten about while Tony went off and had adventures, some of which are described in his new Vertebrate e-book, Adventures in the Northlands. Rediscovered in 2010, Tony's Troll Wall was published by Vertebrate Publishing in 2011. As two-time Boardman Tasker winner Andy Kirkpatrick said in his Alpine Journal review:
“The book is a real page-turner as bit by bit Howard, John Amatt and Bill Tweedale push and push and push for the top, forever driven, forever barred by some new obstacle, the story always moving, devoid of any ego or bullshit.”
To read more about the first ascent of the Troll Wall, order a signed copy of Tony's book: v-publishing.co.uk/books/biography/troll-wall-the-untold-story-of-the-british-first-ascent-of-europe-s-tallest-rock-face.html
(Like Adventures in the Northlands, Troll Wall is also available as an e-book.)
Photos by Tony Howard, John Amatt, Di Taylor and Bob Orrell.
Visit Tony and Di's website: nomadstravel.co.uk
Music: 'Hedgerow in August' by Tom Fahy: tomfahy.org