Entity Type:
Anderson, Airlee (1975-)
Anderson, Airlee (1975-)
Anderson first came to prominence in 1992 when, as a brash, opinionated sixteen year-old she won the UK Women’s Bouldering Competition. The self-styled ‘Essex Girl’ promptly announced: ‘Traditional climbing is not real climbing’ and, ‘It’s not the route, it’s the grade that counts’, resulting in a storm of outrage from older, more conventional (and mainly male) climbers. Thus began the colourful climbing career of Anderson who confounded her detractors by evolving from a talented sport and competition climber into one of the few elite women all-round mountaineers. In recent years she has climbed on rock, ice and snow all around the world, from gritstone edges to the Scottish Highlands, the USA and the Alps. As one of the relatively few women operating at such high standards she has attracted the attention of commercial sponsors, her ‘marketability’ enhanced by her famously no-nonsense, down to earth attitude to both people and routes. Her most infamous media appearance was on the TV series The Face. First she accused the legendary macho mountaineer Al Burgess of being a ‘wuss’ (for only ever having taken a single leader fall) during a beer-fuelled interchange in the pub, then proceeded to swear profusely when she found herself out of her depth in Utah on Moses Towers’ Primrose Dihedrals (E4). It provided some of the most memorable TV climbing footage of recent years! Although she has climbed successfully with many male partners (especially Andy Kirkpatrick in Yosemite and Matt Dickinson in the Alps) Anderson prefers to climb with other women and recently has struck up a same-sex climbing relationship with fellow Briton Lucy Creamer. Their partnership seems to have been cemented by a ‘character-building’ day out on the Dolomite’s Cima Grande where they climbed a difficult route and descended under fire from storm clouds and heavy rain; pulling off the route - and the ensuing great escape - with both speed and panache.
Standout climbs: Master’s Edge (E7), Beginner’s Mind (E8) 1st female ascent; Windy Miller (E5), Kinder (1st ascent ); Reve du Papilion F8a, Toys for the Boys F7c+ (Cheedale); Citadel (E5) Gogarth, Anglesay, Right Wall (E5) Llanberis Pass; Cockblock (E5) Grochan, Llanberis Pass; Mega Route X (VI, 6) Ben Nevis; NW Face of the Ailfroide (ED) Ecrins; W Pillar Direct Scheidegwetterhorn (ED) Oberland; Thriller F7a Spalti di col Becci; Squirrel’s Route (E5) NW Arete of Cima Ovest
Brandler-Hasse (E5) N Face of Cima Grande; Zenyatta Mondatta (A4); Yosemite
1st place, UK Women’s Bouldering Comp 1992, British Bouldering Champ 1993, 3rd Place, BICC 1998, 2nd Place, British Bouldering Championships 1999.
Further viewing: The Face, dir. Richard Else, BBC

Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Anderson, Airlee (1975-)
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