First on the Continents 2014 – The Speakers

FIRST on the CONTINENTS – celebrating world class climbing across all seven continents.

CAN is delighted to announce the following speaker line up for these events during November 2014:

Andy Kirkpatrick (UK) speaking about Antarctica

Andy Kirkpatrick image006

Andy Kirkpatrick on Ultevanna, Antarctica










The US magazine Climbing once described Andy as a climber with a “strange penchant for the long, the cold and the difficult”, with a reputation “for seeking out routes where the danger is real, and the return is questionable, pushing himself on some of the hardest walls and faces in the Alps and beyond, sometimes with partners and sometimes alone.”

More succinctly, Metro magazine claims that he “makes Ray Mears look like Paris Hilton”.

Andy’s speciality is big wall climbing and winter expeditions, which involves pitting himself against a vertical climbs of over 1000 metres (that’s two and a half world trade centres), often in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees. Andy has scaled Yosemite’s El Capitan – one of the hardest walls in America – over twenty four times, including three solo ascents and a one day ascent (18h). One of these ascents was a 12 day solo of the Reticent Wall, viewed at the time as perhaps the hardest climb of its type in the world, and the subject of his award winning book Psychovertical.

In 2002 he undertook one of the hardest climbs in Europe: a 15 day winter ascent of the West face of the Dru. This 1000 metre pillar pushed him and his partner to their limits and was featured in the award winning film ‘Cold Haul’.

Other ascents in the last two years have  included a winter ascent of the Troll Wall in Norway, two speed ascents of El Cap with a blind partner, and two new routes in Queen Maud Land in Antarctica about which he will speak at First on the Continents.

I haven’t climbed Everest, skied to the poles, nor sailed single handed around the world. The goals I set out to accomplish aren’t easily measured or quantified by world records or ‘firsts’. The reasons I climb, and the climbs I do, are about more than distance or altitude, they are about breaking barriers within myself ” says Andy.

In March this year Andy lead BBC TV presenter Miss Alex Jones up Moonlight Buttress in Utah on a three day climb, including two nights sleeping on porta ledges. The climb raised over £1.2 million for charitable causes in the UK and abroad.

 Alex Huber (Germany) speaking about Europe

Alex Huber

Alex Huber








Alex Huber, originally from Bavaria in Germany, has been climbing since his childhood after being introduced to the sport by his father. With his brother Thomas he is one of  a new breed of climbers who push the limits of what seems possible in the mountains. From climbing routes with amazing speed to free climbing some of the world’s hardest routes Alex takes things to the extreme.

At First on the Continents he will speak about his 2002 free ascent (solo, without ropes or a climbing partner) of the Direttissima Hasse-Brandler route on the Cima Grande in the Dolomites. This 500 metres route, of which 350 metres are overhanging, would be an enormous mental and physical challenge. Before the climb Alex commented “During the day and night before my climb, I was attacked again and again by ever changing feelings. If I were to continue after reaching the ‘point of no return’ 60 metres above the ground, then there was only one exit – finish the 500 metres of the face”.

Reinhold Messner said of the climb “Alexander Huber, currently the best of all rock climbers, has soloed the Zinnen-Direttissima, with only a chalk bag and rock shoes on his feet. 500 metres of absolute exposure, without protection and possibility of return, a brilliant deed, which can hardly be surpassed in elegance.”

Alex’s list of other extreme mountain achievements include many first ascents on El Cap, a free ascent of Eternal Flame on Trango Tower with brother Thomas and a free solo ascent of Grand Capucin on Mont Blanc.

 Michael Kennedy (USA) speaking about North America

Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy












Michael Kennedy has found inspiration in the mountains for over 40 years and at 61 remains an active rock climber, backcountry skier, and biker.

An accomplished photographer and writer, Michael worked as editor and publisher of Climbing Magazine from 1974 to 1998.

Michael was a pioneer in winter mountaineering and technical ice climbing in Colorado in the 1970s. In six Alaskan expeditions he made first ascents of some of that state’s hardest routes (the North Face of Mount Hunter and the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker, with George Lowe, in 1977, and the Wall of Shadows on Mount Hunter, with Greg Child, in 1994) and three ascents of Denali (including a solo of the Cassin Ridge in 1981).

He was also active in the Himalaya, in 1978 attempting the North Ridge of Latok I with George Lowe, Jeff Lowe, and Jim Donini; the four were turned back 200 meters from the summit of this often-tried and still unclimbed route. In 1984 he and Randy Trover made the second ascent of the Northeast Pillar of Thalay Sagar in the Western Garhwal of India. In 1985, he and Carlos Buhler made the first ascent, in winter, of the Northeast Face of Ama Dablam in the Khumbu Himlaya of Nepal.

In addition to his professional and climbing experience, Michael served on the board of directors of the Access Fund, a climbers’ advocacy group based in Boulder, Colorado, and is now an honorary board member. He also served on the board of trustees for Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale and is involved as a volunteer with various local and national organizations.

Michael lives in Carbondale, Colorado, with his wife Julie. They are visited occasionally by their 24-year-old son, Hayden, who is also an accomplished climber, with numerous ascents in Canada, Thailand, Australia, Italy, Patagonia, Pakistan, China, Alaska, and throughout the western United States.

Michael titles his lecture ‘Finding the Balance’ : More than a mere chronicle of routes  it is an exploration of the intuitive side of alpine climbing and a celebration of the internal knowledge gained from living fully in the present. Mountains are fantastic examples of the power and mystery of nature, and the routes we climb on them are expressions of all that is best in the human spirit. In this lavishly illustrated presentation, Michael  traces a personal journey through the great ranges Alaska, Pakistan, Nepal, and India from 1977 to 1994.

Simone Moro (Italy) speaking about Asia

Simone Moro

Simone Moro












Simone Moro’s climbing CV in the Himalaya  is awe inspiring  – from his lightening fast ascents of Cho Oyu, Broad Peak and Everest (south to north traverse) –  to his passion for first winter ascents on the world’s highest peaks.

However,  he described his introduction to climbing as such “One Saturday afternoon I was in my garage at home, my head stuck in the cupboard which used to belong to my Grandad, playing with my Dad’s climbing gear …. that day my dad came down to the garage and saw me clipping on all his gear while I  pretended to climb…..he came towards me and smiling he said ‘tomorrow I will take you climbing at Cornagera …pull out all the gear and get it ready …..I couldn’t believe it. I was going climbing like real climbers and  I would be tied to a proper rope”

Winter ascents in the Himalaya take commitment to an extreme level. In 2012,with Denis Urubko, Simone tried the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat (8,125 metres). Battling  terrible weather they were forced to abandon the attempt after 51 days. In 2011,  with Denis Urubko and Cory Richards, he made the first winter ascent of Gasherbrum II in the Karakorum (8,035 metres). In 2009  he made the first winter ascent of Makalu (8,462 metres) again with Denis Urubko and in 2005 the first winter ascent of Shishapangma (8,013 metres).  Simone is the only Alpinist to reach the summits of three 8000 metre peaks during a full winter season. At First on the Continents he will be speaking about these groundbreaking climbs.

Simone also has the distinction of being a qualified commercial helicopter pilot and since 2010 has specialised in helicopter rescue in the Himalaya.

 Simon Yates (UK) speaking about South America

Low Res India 2011 034 Simon Yates

Simon Yates










Internationally acclaimed mountaineer Simon Yates  is one of Britain’s most prolific and accomplished exploratory mountaineers, best known for his role in Joe Simpson’s book and the subsequent film, ‘Touching the Void’.

In a career spanning nearly thirty years Simon’s climbing and travelling has taken him from Alaska in the west to Australia in the east, from the Canadian Arctic to the tip of South America.

Some of Simon’s highlights include the first ascent of the West face of Siula Grande (6356m) in the Peruvian Andes in 1985, first ascents of Leyla Peak (6300m) and Nemeka (6400m) in the Pakistani Karakoram in 1987, with the  team making a new route on the Central Tower of Paine in Chilean Patagonia in 1992 and the first ascent of Monte Ada (2100m) in Chilean Tierra del Fuego, 2001.

In addition to climbing for himself, Simon has successfully guided clients to the summits of peaks such as Ama Dablam (6856m) in Nepal, Denali (6145m) in Alaska, Aconcagua (6960m) in Argentina, Khan Tengri (6995m) in Kazakhstan, Spantik (7027m) in Pakistan, Peak Lenin (7134m) in Kyrgyzstan and Peak Korzhenevskaya (7120m) in Tajikistan.

Simon has written three books – ‘Against the Wall’, ‘The Flame of Adventure’, and ‘The Wild Within’, which have all been shortlisted for mountain literature prizes. He is a popular public speaker, regularly touring theatres in the UK and has talked to outdoor, general and business audiences worldwide. At First on the Continents Simon will be speaking about his notable climbs in South America.

Pat Littlejohn (UK) speaking about Africa


Pat Littlejohn relaxing on route to Mount Poi, Kenya








Pat’s climbing career began in the 1960’s on the sea cliffs of South West England where from the age of 16 he began putting up serious and challenging climbs. Through the following decades he became Britain’s pre-eminent sea-cliff explorer, notching up well over 1000 first ascents in Devon, Cornwall, Pembroke and North Wales.

On receiving an OBE for services to mountaineering  UK Climbing commented ”  Mention a Littlejohn route, and the word that most often comes to mind is ‘commitment’. These are truly world-class adventure routes, often on remote sea-cliffs, usually climbed completely on sight into the unknown.”

Having climbed all over the world on peaks up to 7000m, in recent years he has become a devotee of climbing in Africa, putting up climbs in a very adventurous style without bolts or pegs.

His lecture will focus on adventurous rock climbing from early days on the sea-cliffs to African big walls, with particular focus on the first ascent of Dark Safari (E6) on the 600m north face of Mt Poi in Kenya, possibly the hardest climb of its type in Africa.

Pat is currently the Director of the International School of Mountaineering based in Leysin, Switzerland,

Doug Scott   (UK)  speaking about Australasia

Doug Scott

Doug Scott










Doug Scott has made 45 expeditions to the high mountains of Asia. He has reached the summit of 49 peaks, of which half were climbed by new routes or for the first time in Alpine style.  In 1975 he became the first Englishman to climb Mount Everest with Scotsman Dougal Haston. Apart from this South West face of Everest climb during Chris Bonington’s  Expedition, he has made all his climbs in lightweight or Alpine Style, without the use of artificial oxygen.

In 1979 he made the first ascent (and only the third ever) of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain without bottled oxygen and in 1982 the first alpine style ascent of Shishapagma South face.  He has reached the highest peaks on all seven continents – “the seven summits”.  Doug’s new route directly up the west face Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea to reach the highest p0int in Australasia (4,884 metres)  is the subject of his lecture at First on the Continents.

He is a past President of the Alpine Club. He was made a CBE in 1994, received the Royal Geographical Society Patron’s Gold Medal in 1999 and the Piolet d’Or Lifetime  Achievement  Award  in 2011. Doug has long recognised that these achievements crucially relayed on the support of local mountain people, porters and Sherpas.  In 1998 he therefore founded the charity Community Action Nepal which today has over 40 on-going community welfare projects reaching 250,000 people, including  operating  nine schools, seven health posts and building two porter overnight shelters.

In Doug’s spare time he enjoys gardening, growing vegetables and rock climbing.

Mike Searle  (UK) speaking about the geology of all seven continents

Professor Mike Searle

Professor Mike Searle













Professor Mike Searle is a geologist at the University of Oxford who works on the structure and evolution of the Himalaya, Karakoram and Tibetan Mountain ranges.

He spent 10 years working around the Baltoro, Biafo, Hushe, Hispar, Shimshal and Hunza regions of North Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s mapping the geology, exploring remote corners of the Karakoram and climbing. He also made five mountaineering expeditions to K2, Masherbrum, Biale, Trango Towers, Hushe peaks and made two crossings of Snow Lake region. He published a book in 1991 – “Geological Evolution of the Karakoram Mountains” which included a geological map of the Central Karakoram.

At First on the Continents Mike will attempt to condense millions of years of geological history, across all seven continents, into a mere 30 minutes lecture!

THE SMALL PRINT: We reserve the right to amend the speaker list and programme  without notice should this be necessary

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