The climbers of 84 Hunter House Road
- Tuesday 29 March 2016
Andy Pollitt beneath the nightly boulders, Arapiles (Australia). Photo: Glenn Robbins.
It's only one week until Andy Pollitt's autobiography Punk in the Gym is published. In anticipation of its release, Vertebrate's Jon Barton talks to Martin Atkinson. Martin was the first person to climb Mecca (8b+) – at the time the hardest sport route in Britain – and shared a house with Andy on the notorious Hunter House Road, Sheffield.
So Martin, you were one of the infamous residents on Hunter House Road. Jerry Moffatt touched on the depravity in his book, but Andy talks fondly of those days – what's your memory?
It wasn’t depraved, that was 124 Hunter House Road. That was a scene that had nothing to do with high-standard rock climbing and there are a host of ‘trainspotting’ stories that could be told. At 84 it was much more civilised (even domesticated), and the focus was on a dedication to rock climbing and improvement of performance. To be fair this didn’t limit a freedom of spirit and certain boundaries were pushed; great times were had but at the end of the day the focus was on the climbing.
Neil Foster was the first there when he moved in with three girls: Alison, a lovely woman who sadly passed away due to lung cancer in the early noughties; Sally, who may have been subject to some attention from myself; and Elaine. As I said the focus was performance and the real leader in that regard was Jerry [Moffatt] who had an unfailing belief in his ability and an ambition to be the best climber in the world. This led him to experiment with techniques, processes and training schedules, which pushed standards in the UK and, arguably, further afield.
Andy has been brutally honest in the telling of his story. Who do you think will be the first to take legal action against him?
I’m not sure about legal action but Jerry worries what his folks might think. I’d rather say we did drugs in the winter (never the summer) rather than saying we were drinking Stella because we didn’t drink at all … that might have meant putting on weight.
We've had a hell of a lot of women ordering Andy's new book. Can you give us some clue as to why that might be?
Andy has a boyish charm, no doubt. He’s also a little obsessed with women … we had some memorable evenings in the Cottage Loaf in Llandudno. Many women are attracted to Andy – I’d suggest caution, but I’d love it if some good woman could be the person Andy needs and make him happy.
Oh, and the climbing, tell us about the climbing.
There are too many stories. I can’t remember the first time we met – I should ask him – but I had some big days out with Andy: Cascade, Blast Peru, Sidekick, Whore of Babylon, Boot Boys, Little Plum, Easy Skanking, the Avon Gorge trip, numerous days in the poly gym doing hangs and 6s on the minute etc.
For more about Andy Pollitt's new book, Punk in the Gym, click HERE.