New Mills climber takes sport to Olympic heights

Andy Turner makes his final ascent on the lower tier of the Beinn Udlaidh, Scotland. Credit: Lukasz Warzecha
Andy Turner makes his final ascent on the lower tier of the Beinn Udlaidh, Scotland. Credit: Lukasz Warzecha

In a tale reminiscent to Cool Runnings, a New Mills ice climber has been invited to attend the Winter Games.

Despite the distinct lack of icy rockfaces in the High Peak town, Andy Turner has become a pioneer of the slippery sport, helping it in its bid to make it an Olympic event.

The outdoor instructor, one of only two Britons selected, will be showcasing the treacherous activity at a cultural event at Sochi 2014, which starts on February 7, to demonstrate why it should qualify as an official discipline.

The 43-year-old mountaineer, who has been climbing for seventeen years, said he was approached by the Russian Olympic committee while competing in the Ice World Cup in 2012.

After four gruelling rounds in Russia, Switzerland, Romania and Italy, the best competitors were invited to apply to attend the Games next month.

Andy, who teaches outdoor pursuits at the Buxton campus of the University of Derby, said it was a nerve-wracking three months before he got confirmation that he had been chosen.

“It’s the icing on the cake,” he joked. “Last year, I contracted bronchitis during the cup. Five weeks of exertion in snowy conditions took its toll.

“We don’t yet know what Sochi will entail yet, whether it will be competing or workshops or a combination of both, but it’s just good the sport’s getting recognition. There’s going to be two of us from each country and we’re really excited about it.”

The climber, of Church Road, has competed in three Ice World Cups, reaching the quarter finals in 2012, finishing 23rd.

Having lived in the foothills of Ben Nevis, as well as near mountainous parts of North Wales and Northumbria, the keen cragsman took to ice climbing simply due to the climate.

“It takes you to some amazing places around the world, to remote places, people very rarely see,” he said. “It’s a challenge. People think it’s about an adrenaline rush but you don’t always enjoy the climb. It’s the feeling at the top.”

While the thrill-seeker would normally spend six or seven hours navigating an icy peak, in competitive climbing, the athletes ascend man-made overhangs, or walls, in six to eight minutes.

“It’s like a puzzle you have to work out. As a competitor, you’re put in isolation, while others attempt the climb so you can’t learn from their mistakes,” he explained.

But as ice climbing is not yet an Olympic sport, Andy will receive no funding from Sport England. Flights to Sochi alone will cost him £1,500.

If you are interested in sponsoring Andy, visit for more details on what opportunities he can offer you and your business or contact him via email on