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Jerry Moffatt on Andy Pollitt

Monday, 4 April 2016

Photo by Andy Pollitt
Dancing or duelling? Two 'roos head-to-head under the gum trees. Photo: Andy Pollitt.

The name Andy Pollitt conjures up images of dangerous run outs and dizzying excess. But what was it really like to climb with one of the most iconic rock climbers of recent decades? Vertebrate's Jon Barton pinned down Jerry Moffatt  one of Andy's closest climbing partners  and gave him a good grilling.

Jon Barton: So Jerry, tell us what it was like to climb with Andy.

Jerry Moffatt: Always good fun, no tantrums – Andy just got out there and enjoyed his climbing.

From the moment I met him he changed my climbing. Andy was super-optimistic, way more than I was. He wanted to be the best sixteen-year-old climber in the UK. That kind of ambition had never occurred to me, but it made me think more about what was possible. Andy was so much more confident than me; we would do a route and would be straight down to Eric (Jones) to tell him what we’d done. Of course this got Andy unstuck a few times, famously when he’d approached Pete (Livesey) and Pete promptly sandbagged him into taking that big fall off Zukator.

JB: You climbed with Andy a lot – what were the memorable days?

JM: Doing Mayfair. I’ll always remember that, but just hanging out with Andy was great. I remember the first day of one school holiday: I’d hitchhiked to Tremadoc and Andy was waiting for me; we jumped straight on Fingerlicker and spent about three hours on it – it was one of the hardest climbs around and it felt like a new beginning for us both.

JB: Describe Andy’s strong points.

JM: Super-strong fingers and fantastic technique, but as he got a bit older he didn’t train as hard as some of us, so didn’t have the power. He also didn’t travel, which helps to develop your skills. Andy was always a climber; he just wanted to be out climbing, but not travelling and not training too much, which meant his season was more like seven months long. Of course his best asset was his eyes … he loved giving people (mainly women) ‘the eyes’ – he wore eyeliner which made the look even more brooding. Didn’t get him up many routes though.

JB: Why do you think Andy stopped climbing?

JM: I don’t know really – moving to Australia and living so far away from a crag? Shame really.

I remember those last climbing days. It was really fun, just hanging out at Arapiles in his caravan – I guess I was drawn to Andy. I remember cycling from school on Saturdays, a bloody long way on a shit bike, to climb with him for a few hours and then get back.

Punk in the Gym by Andy Pollitt was published by Vertebrate on 4 April 2016. Click HERE to read more about the book or to order a copy.

Punk in the Gym Andy Pollitt book cover

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