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Guy Paterson-Jones Interview

Apparently I'm likely to fall off everything I climb if I don't drink tea beforehand, but I'm willing to take that risk.
Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy chilling out at Yellowwood.  Photo by Hilton Davies

Age?  16

Where were you born?
South Africa

Where are you living now?
Either in Hout Bay or Kommetjie (both in Cape Town), depending on whether I’m staying with my dad or my mom.

How long have you been climbing?
About 3 years so far.

How did you start climbing?
At my school, Bishops, we’ve got a climbing club.  One day when I’d just started high school I decided to give it a go just for the hell of it, and since then I’ve been completely hooked.

What was the first crag you went to?
I think it was the easy section at The Hole.

What did you study / what work do you do?
Well, I’m in grade 11 at the moment, so that’s what I’m studying at the moment.  I’m also trying to find some freelance programming work, but I’m not doing any right now.

What do you want to do when you’re big?
Climb rocks, have fun. More seriously, I  think I want to get into some interesting computer science related thing . Not too sure what that thing will be yet hehe.

What routes have you opened and are you opening any new routes at present?
I’ve opened a few routes recently with Hilton Davies at Yellowwood, Time Warp Direct and his route, Judgement Day.  Though it’s not really a route by itself, I also opened an alternate crux pitch to Whinge at Wolfberg.  I have a few ideas for things I want to do some time at Yellowwood, but nothing concrete.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Looking towards Judgement Day(a new route that we opened in February 2012) – goes up directly beneath the Great Roof then out right. Left of Guy’s head is the Armageddon Understairs pitch. Our latest addition is further left of Guy on the orange/yellow rock joining the water-streak on the grey rock where Time Warp goes straight up. Photo by Hilton Davies

Does anyone else in your family climb?
Some of my younger siblings try it every once in a while for fun, but none of them are very into it.  My dad used to climb back when he was in university, but not really any more.

Who taught you to climb?
To start with I pretty much learned from whoever I went climbing with, be it with my friends or my dad etc.  After about a year of climbing I met Andy Davies at Silvermine and started to climb a lot with him, which was great as I got on a lot of harder routes and progressed quite a bit.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
A very tired but elated pair after sending the opening of Judgement Day. Hilton (left) and Guy (right). Photo by Hilton Davies

How did you and Hilton Davies become climbing partners?
I went climbing with Andy Davies at Table Mountain a few months ago and Hilton joined in as well.  After that, he invited me to Wolfberg and since then I’ve been trad climbing with him somewhat regularly.

What was your first route at Yellowwood? 

Armageddon Time.

What did you think of the route?
It’s really cool, really exposed and in some parts really scary.  I’ve sort of come to realise that most routes at Yellowwood are like that, but when I did it I found the whole experience an awesome adventure.  On some pitches, most notably a traversing pitch I lead in the middle of the wall, I think I came close to a mental meltdown, but looking back I think it was all just part of the package.

What training do you do and how often?
I don’t really train per se, but I go climbing at Cityrock twice a week and just push myself.  For some reason that seems to work for me, since I’ve definitely noticed improvements in my climbing as time goes by.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Looking back at Guy coming across the halfway ledge. The Witteberg in the background (Exposure in F Major, Thunderbolt Direct, Pisa Wall etc). Photo by Hilton Davies

Do you train specifically for routes?
I like to think I would if I found a really hard route that inspired me, but to be honest I don’t have a very good project mentality.  I find it hard to keep working on one climb, week after week.

What trips did you do last year?
I went to Oudtshoorn and Montagu earlier in the year and I climbed in the Cederberg a few times as well – at Tafelberg, Wolfberg and Rocklands.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy at the top of Sunset Traverse, Rocklands

What is the biggest epic that you’ve had?
Its not much, but me and my dad had a pretty minor epic on Table Mountain once. We decided to go climb two routes one day, Bombay Duck on the lower buttresses and then Jacob’s Ladder up on fountain ledge. Bombay Duck went fine without any hitches, so emboldened we strode on up to the ledge and walked to the start of Jacobs.

On the first pitch, we only knew vaguely where we were going, my dad having done the route years ago. Or rather, we both pretended that he had, since ignorance was far preferable to the alternative. Anyway, we somehow ended up beneath the steep overhanging crack of Roulette, another much harder route nearby and very definitely not the same line as Jacob’s Ladder.

After a bit of brainstorming we realised we had gone right instead of left to the stance, and eventually we managed to get ourselves to the right place with a bit of extra traversing. Then I started up the second pitch, the famous traverse-over-space pitch. Of course, I made the classic mistake and railed off right at the lower of the two rails, blindly following where I thought the route must go.

By the time I had made it to the correct rail and gotten to the point where you are supposed to climb upwards to a stance, I had used up virtually all of our useful gear. When you consider that we were climbing with about six nuts and four small to medium cams, it’s not too hard. By the time I reached the end of the pitch I was literally in tears, my last pro being about 10 meters below me.

After my dad seconded the pitch and I calmed down a bit, he set off on the last pitch, and we both arrived at the summit feeling very elated. The sun had just set, however, and neither of us had a headlamp.

Eventually we found our way down, but I think I was left a little scarred by the experience. I’m surprised I ever trad climbed again – I think it took a while for the shock to die away…

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy sending Sid Vicious (26) on a rest day. Photo by Kath Fourie

What is the longest fall you’ve taken and where?
Probably about an 8m fall on Gift of Wings at the Mine in Cape Town.

Would you say you’re climbing the hardest ever in your life?
So far in my life, definitely.

Do you Sport climb? Yes.
Do you boulder? Yes.

Have you aid climbed?
Not proper aid climbing – I’ve pulled on gear a few times, if that counts…

You’ve been doing quite a bit more Trad climbing, if you have to choose between trad and sport – which one would you go for and why?
I’d definitely go for trad.  Trad is just way more out there and awesome, and after a trad route I feel a much bigger sense of achievement than on a sport route.  Maybe it is just that trad tends to be more “epic” than sport in that sense.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Pitch 5 of Judgement Day on Yellowwood – Heading into hell on the Seven Deadly Sins pitch – so named by Guy. The Great Roof is above him which leads onto hard, overhanging and way scary climbing. Photo by Hilton Davies

What gets you psyched?
Thoughts of rad moves on awesome looking rock in an awesome looking setting. Watching climbing movies also gets me really psyched to get out and climb stuff.

What projects are you currently working  on?

  • Sport climbing wise, I’m keen to send The Activist in Montagu, as I worked out all the moves when I was there quite a while back.


  • Bouldering, I have a few random boulder projects spread out across Topside, and also want to send Zero Gravity at Llandudno.
  • On trad I’d like to get on Synapse, No Longer at Ease and Africa Arete on Table Mountain.

Do you have a 5 year (climbing) plan?
Not really, though I definitely see myself climbing a lot more trad in the future.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy putting in a valiant effort for an onsight of the pitch 7 (crux pitch) on Judgement Day. The pitch is way overhanging, similar to Route No.1 at The Hole but a few grades harder (and not to mention uncertain gear and 200m off the deck!).   He took one good fall and rested on the rope a dozen times but he did do all the moves free. Maybe 25/A0 or so. Will be high 20s for an onsight!  Photo by Hilton Davies

What are your expectations for your future of Climbing in SA?
A lot of people seem to think that all the good rock is SA has already been developed, but after climbing at various areas and talking to people I think there’s still loads of potential for new routes virtually everywhere.  I think that a lot of harder, bolder routes will start getting done.

There also seems to be a growing interest in climbing as a sport, which is awesome. I think it can only continue to grow, which will also help the development of the sport here a lot.

Are you an MCSA member? No.

Have you had any serious climbing injuries from climbing?
Not serious injured, just minor things like a few pulled muscles/tendons.

Do you warm up?
I’m really bad at warming up, usually I just want to push myself from the start.  I try to climb some easier routes or boulder problems before I try anything hard if I can help myself.

Do you follow a diet?

What is your favourite meal?
My all time favourite is probably Thai stir fry.  I love Thai food.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy and his brothers Alex (left) and Joey (middle).  Photo by Andrew Court

Top  3 routes?
Hmm… Probably Celestial Journey at Wolfberg for pitch after pitch of awesome climbing, Armageddon Time at Yellowwood for being my first introduction into scary, hard but still really fun country routes and finally Lotter’s Desire at Waterval Boven for being an amazing piece of rock.

Top 3 climbing areas?
Table Mountain, the Cederberg and Yellowwood (I think I’m slowly being brainwashed by all the cape traddies!).

What are the top 3 international climbing destinations that you would choose to visit?
Spain to go climb lots of limestone, the Peak District since it would be really cool to experience some grit climbing and also when I have more trad experience go one day to Yosemite and try a big route somewhere there.   It’s also a really iconic place in climbing history.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy looking down from the top of Smalblaar Ridge at Yellowwood. Photo by Hilton Davies

What is your Hardest onsight?  What enabled you to onsight the route (what was different about it)?
My hardest onsights have all been various 26s around the Cape, Oudtshoorn or the Cederberg. I think a lack of warming up helped me onsight them, funnily enough, though I got completely flash pumped on most of them…

Tea or Coffee?
Coffee.  Definitely coffee – tea doesn’t have quite the same impact.  Apparently I’m likely to fall off everything I climb if I don’t drink tea beforehand, but I’m willing to take that risk.

Do you do any other sports?
I used to play soccer, but that’s sort of fallen away ever since I started climbing. I also tried fencing at one point, but that also never really stuck.

What do you do on a rest day?
Play music, go to friends’ houses, program stuff, watch climbing movies, read etc.

Do you have a nickname?
Nah, I think people find my name short enough already.

What are your pet hates?
Ants.  I have a crazy phobia of large ants, which doesn’t really help much when I go out climbing, since the things are everywhere.  Maybe one day I’ll get over it.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy facing his ant phobia.  Photo by Andrew Court

What are your aspirations for 2012?
Hopefully open some rad trad lines and send some things on my ever-growing ticklist.

Describe your perfect day?
A perfect day for me would be one where I wake up feeling completely rested and energised and then look outside the window and see awesome climbing weather.  Then I’d go climbing wherever and feel really strong on everything I got on, hopefully sending something I’d always wanted to send.

Can you do a 1 arm pull up?

No, maybe one day 😉

Can you Slackline?
I can walk a slackline decently well, but I can’t do anything crazy like jumps and spins and stuff.

Have you climbed overseas?

I went to Scotland last year on a school tour which was awesome, and while there I managed to climb a few rocks. Nothing established or anything, but hey, it was fun.

Tell us about the roof section on Time Warp, dwindling light, even Hilton thought that you were going to fall off!

Basically there’s one move you have to do from the edge of the roof to get onto the face above which I find really hard – you go from a good incut hold out right to what would be a decent pinch, except at the angle you get it it feels weird. Then you bounce your feet out over the lip and do a crank up to a good hold, and it was here I kept going up and coming down. Every time I tried it I felt like I was doing something wrong until I finally just went for it and stuck the move.

What is your fastest time walking up to Yellowwood?
I really have no clue. I’ve never actually checked the time prior to walking.

What computer languages can you program in?
Usually I use C/C++, but depending on what I’m doing Java, Python, Perl or PHP.

How did you get so competent on Trad gear?
I don’t really think I’m very competent on trad gear, I’m just usually pretty good at ignoring what my mind tells my about how good the gear is 🙂  Occasionally I’m not and that’s when I start to break down a bit, but so far that hasn’t happened too often.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy jamming at Peers Cave.  Photo by Andrew Court

Have you had gear pop during a fall?
Nope, but I’m sure it’ll happen some day.

Can you jam?
I can play a couple of chords on the guitar.

Favourite type of rock that you enjoy climbing on and why?
Sandstone slabs, since they rely more on footwork and technique than raw power which is cool. They’re also probably my strong point, so it’s only natural I enjoy climbing them I guess.

When did you start competing in competitions and how have you been doing?
I started climbing in competitions as soon as I started climbing just for the fun of it. My first year of climbing I managed to come 3rd in my age group at sport climbing nationals, and in the two years following that I’ve come 1st both times. I’m hoping to make it into the bouldering nationals this year, so I’ve yet to see how that’ll turn out.

Guy Paterson-Jones interview
Guy heading up the first pitch of Judgement Day at Yellowwood

On a scale of 1-10 – how good is your Math?
I guess its pretty good, depending on what you’re comparing it too. At school level, probably an 8 or 9.

What school are you attending?

Bishops in Rondebosch.

What does your recent school holiday tick list consist of?
I’m can’t really remember, but I think it was Armageddon Time, Whinge, The Dream into Last Tango, and some other sport and boulder routes in the Cape.

Guy is sponsored by:  Black Diamond, Beal Ropes & Saltic Rock shoes

Comments and other things about Guy:

  • Brian Weaver:  “I have met a couple of really strong young climbers here.  Guy Patterson-Jones and Dylan Vogt are two names that resonate in my head.  Every time I see one of them log a climb I think “oh shit, here he comes!”  So sue me. I’m a little competitive.
  • Hilton Davies:  “In gathering gloom Guy had one last, but diminished, shot left in him.  How many times can a fellow climb and retreat hectically out-there grade 26 trad stuff?  He got the left foot to stabilise and went for the rail.  A 10 metre fall was cast in stone.  I thought of Snort’s ropes.  Guy stuck it!   And I witnessed what must be one of the finest few minutes in climbing in SA!   This was a young Andy de Klerk or Jeremy Samson-type piece of history.  Guy screamed.  I yelled.  Yellowwood reverberated…”
  • At the Rock Master 2011 competition Guy came 7th in the Mens Lead and 11th in the Mens Bouldering (There was no 18 category, so he got to climb with the big boys 😉

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Mokganjetsi (Willem B)
Mokganjetsi (Willem B)
11 years ago

the future looks bright 😀

11 years ago

rad man!

Andy Davies
Andy Davies
11 years ago

I should find the pic of Guy’s shoes that he sent Gift of Wings in. His flippin toes were poking out! Luckily he snapped up a sponsorship from Saltic so at least thats sorted.

Nice interview Justin & Guy. Its great reading that a down to earth bloke is so psyched for climbing and I’m sure the old guard is stoked that a teen is so psyched for trad.

11 years ago

Hey Guy, great to see you inspired by those extra dimensions of trad climbing; head + gear = adventure. This is something you cannot “sell” to anybody really.

You will have memorable epics the way your are going. And hopefully open the really hard lines at Yellowwood and elsewhere. Hope to see you at the Tradathon tearing up all the test pieces at the Ledge.

11 years ago

Rad stuff Guy. As afellow young climber and for many climbers your age, it really motivates us to see the cool climbing you are doing. Keep rocking

John Wayne
John Wayne
11 years ago

Cool brruuu! you a pretty rad 16 year old – keep pushing it!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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