#TeamMontane Q&A: Meet our climbers

From the North York Moors to Wyoming, USA - our climbing athletes are based far and wide! Hear from some of the team to learn more about their love for moving over rock…

We work with a variety of climbers across the globe, including trad climbers and dry toolers seeking lofty thrills and para climbers with a passion for bouldering. Each is drawn to pushing their limits in the great outdoors, solving some of nature's greatest puzzles by artfully combining physical strength, excellent balance and a head for heights. 

We catch up with some of the established members of #TeamMontane climbers, Franco Cookson and Matt Pincus, as well as a brand new member to the team - welcome Tom Pearce! Discover what gets them reaching for their climbing rope and the climbing challenges they’re eager to take on next…

Tell us a bit about yourself

Tom: I’m a Trad climber from the North York Moors. I grew up in the hills and spent a large portion of my time outside. I just love the freedom of the outdoors. Life can feel overly bound by rules and regulations so having that escape is really important to me.

Franco: I'm a climber originally from the North York Moors, but now live in North Wales. I got into climbing through walking in places like the Lake District, and generally just messing about with my pals back home in local quarries and woods. For me, climbing is just a really good way of staying quite stationary in a landscape. I always used to like foraging and bushcraft-style stuff, so climbing just allows me to hang out on improbable-looking places and get to know every inch of valleys and mountains intimately.

Matt: I am a sport climber and boulderer based in Lander, Wyoming. My main passion is pushing my own limits on the most difficult and highest quality routes and boulders I can. That said, I am also a climbing coach with Training Beta and find a deep sense of satisfaction helping others reach their own climbing goals.

Meet our #TeamMontane climbers

What’s one item you are always sure to pack on a day in the mountains?

Tom: Honey roasted nuts, my absolute go-to snack. If going into the mountains gives me anything, it's an excuse to eat these!

Franco: A flask of tea! I have a bit of a drink problem – I get through a ridiculous amount of tea and hot juice when I'm out. The feeling of a warm brew on the hill is up there with getting in the bath after you've been frozen all day, or closing that car door after being battered by the wind. It's even better if you've got a comfy rock and a nice view. Come to think of it, drinking brews in nice places is probably 70% of the reason I bother to go outside...

Matt: Living in Wyoming, we often joke that you can experience all four seasons in an hour. It’s not abnormal to have a sweaty walk to the cliff only to have the wind pick up and find yourself freezing. Having spent more days over the years than I care to count belaying and getting cold between burns, I now always throw a pair of down pants into my pack. Yes, there are lots of days where it stays hot and I look foolish for bringing them, but they are light and packable and, when the weather does turn, I’m the comfortable one. 

Tom Pearce #TeamMontane climbers

What’s your favourite place in the world and why?

Tom: I don’t really know if I have a favourite place, there’s just so many different areas that are incredible. I went to Scotland for 10 days a short while ago just by myself and had an amazing trip. Running along the peaks, climbing in some beautiful spots and watching the northern lights, with perfect weather too! I couldn’t have asked for a better trip really. In the local moors I always have lovely days out, whether it's trying a last great project on the ropes or just a short run in the pouring rain, I've never had a bad day in the places I love.

Franco: The UK. I suppose I'm a bit of an annoying contrarian, so in the era of everyone else jetting off around the world, I've made it a bit of a mission to eek out every bit of adventure available in the UK. This started out with exploring every inch of my home turf in the North York Moors, finding new crags, boulders and routes. 

More recently, I've been a real fan of Scotland, getting to know places like Arran, Ardnamurchan, The Hebrides, Caithness and Orkney. The variety, beauty and potential for hard new rock climbs in places like this is just amazing. Now I'm living in North Wales, a place I don't know well at all, I've got another huge sweep of country to explore. It's really exciting!

Matt: I bought a house and moved to Lander, Wyoming, in a large part because of the climbing in the Little Popo Aggie Canyon. This canyon, which sits outside of Lander in the foothills of the Wind River mountains, is truly my favorite place on earth. Home to crags like Wolf Point, The Strawberry Roan, The Sweatlodge, and The Ghost Town, this canyon is not only stunningly beautiful but it also holds the high concentration of quality hard routes in the Lander area. With thirty or more climbs clocking in between 8b+ and 9a+, there’s a lifetime of challenges. Add in rough roads and approaches that are a bit more rugged than your typical sport climbing areas to keep the crowds down and I don’t think there’s any more I could ask for. 

Franco Cookson bouldering in the UK

Share a fun fact about you

Tom: I enjoy having little experiments and get completely obsessed with the most random things. For example, a short while ago I became passionate about carp, learning about them, watching documentaries on them and, for a good month, I was fascinated with them. I've never fished before and have no intention to either, but at least I now can tell you about carp. After that, I moved on to the next thing. Piano, Rubik’s cubes, breath holding; it could be literally anything and I’ll become obsessed.

Franco: I once beat the world record for how many clothes pegs you can fit on your face.  It gets pretty painful by the end.

Matt: Outdoor pursuits are definitely a driving force in my life. That said, before starting my climbing coaching business, I spent 10+ years supporting my climbing and skiing by bartending and managing restaurants. This time has led to a love of quality food and drink. While I don’t miss the nightly grind of working in restaurants, my partner Lindsay and I maintain this passion by growing as much of our food as we can, cooking delicious meals, and pairing them with wines from our cellar.  

What’s on your future challenges bucket list?

Tom: I have multiple Trad routes on my mind, quite a few of them being first ascents, with a major project in the North York moors currently ongoing. I also am interested in doing some long distance running. I have a 100km run coming up in the middle of may which I'm very psyched for, and after that, maybe aim for 100 miles…

Franco:  I think any climber's list is in a constant state of ballooning – there are just so many cool routes and places out there. I've got some pretty ambitious big wall objectives, but other than that, I'm trying to stay local to North Wales, developing some of the outrageous projects here. 

The great thing about climbing is that you can go somewhere really local to you, yet have an experience right at the limit of human comprehension – you've just got to find the right project. In North Wales right now there are lots of really high-quality projects beyond the current hardest routes in the world. There is far more here to explore than you could ever do in one lifetime. So if you're looking for big challenges, they needn't be so far away. 

Matt: At this point, I am still completely obsessed with trying to push my limits within sport climbing and bouldering. There are countless both locally and around the world that I’d love to sink my teeth into. More specifically though, I’ve never been to the UK and it’s inching closer and closer to the top of the list. Grit boulders and checking out Malham and Raven’s Tor are a must on the life-time list.

Meet the Montane climbers

Finally, what’s your ultimate motivational song?

Tom: This changes all the time but currently would have to go with Stayin Alive by the Bee Gees

Franco: Pretty Green Eyes by Ultrabeat – absolute banger. If I ever got married, it would have to be the first dance. 

Matt: I have pretty eclectic musical tastes that currently consist mostly of country and electronic music. That said, when it comes time to dig deep in my training I always turn to 90s hip hop. If I had to pick one song, I’d have to say Biggie’s Gimme the Loot.

Meet more #TeamMontane members

Want to hear more from our featured climbers? Don’t miss Franco’s favourite bouldering spot in the UK. Head to our dedicated #TeamMontane page to find out who else we work with, including more world-class climbers, as well as ultra runners and endurance athletes.