Interview by Glyn Hughes
Mike, could you start by telling us about your earliest climbing experiences.
When I turned up in Cambridge in 1962 I had done very little real climbing, but I was very keen to do more, and I had already discovered that I seemed to have some talent for it. I went on a meet to the Derbyshire gritstone as soon as I could, and, wearing my mountain boots (I had not heard of PAs at the time), I got up a few climbs. Shortly after that I fell about 25ft off a VS because the rubber on the toe of my boot was worn away, and I tore my ankle. The more experienced members of the CUMC (Nick Estcourt, Rupert Roschnik, etc) were not amused by this novice showing off. However I managed to show them that I was actually able to climb, and that I could be competitive with them. That winter I joined the Club’s Ben Nevis meet and got my first taste of ice climbing, which I also enjoyed. I think the reason that I was competitive with the best of them was that I was quite strong, and was able to keep my nerve on rock climbs. I reasoned that if other people had done it before me, even if I could not see how to do the next bit, it was obviously possible and there must be holds there, and so I should be able to do it too. I did not frighten easily, and my (flawed) reasoning worked, so I went up the grades quite quickly, and become one of the better climbers in the CUMC.