John Allen was a legendary British climber of the Peak District who built a legacy of bold and technical first ascents on gritstone. It was in the 1970s and 1980s that Allen helped pushed the limit of difficult climbing throughout the area. UKclimbing.com broke the news of Allen’s climbing accident here.
Geoff Birtles, the editor of Crags magazine, once summed up Allen’s climbing ability for Climber magazine by saying: “In his day he was the best climber on gritstone, he had a whole body skill that embodied both technical climbing and movement.”
In 1975, he made memorable ascents of hard routes like Old Friends E4 6a, White Wand E5 6a and Nectar E4 6b. He freed Coventry Street E5 6b and then took it to the next level with a free ascent of London Wall E5 6a. Around the same time, he also climbed now-classic test-piece routes like Hairless Heart E5 5c and Moon Walk E4 6a.
He emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1976 before returning to Sheffield in the 1980s. Since returning to the U.K., he continued to climb and establish routes like Shirley’s Shining Temple to Stanage. Recently, Allen took up sport climbing and started to add his own lines at various Peak District quarries. Our condolences to Allen’s family and friends.
Grimes Podcast with Allen
Top U.K. climber Niall Grimes interviewed Allen on his podcast, which you can listen to below. Grimes said: “The Boss. John Allen put up most of the best routes on gritstone. In the 1970s, as a teenager, he sizzled up most of grit’s coolest lines and led the charge in what was later called the Gritstone renaissance. Then in the 1980s he upped the technical standards of the day by styling what are today’s prized ticks for any boulderer and high-baller.”