Tom Ballard in action in the Dolomites. Photo: Ballard Images

Tom Ballard in action in the Dolomites. Photo: Ballard Images

An upcoming climber who achieved a remarkable Alpine round has joined outdoor brand Montane’s team of sponsored athletes.

Tom Ballard, son of the late mountaineer Alison Hargreaves, recently became the first person to solo all six major faces of the Alps in one winter, a feat known as Starlight and Storm.

The 26-year-old enjoys most of his climbing alone, and especially in the Italian Dolomites where he is currently based with his father. He has completed more than 250 routes in the area, including many winter ascents.

He was brought up in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, where he learnt to climb, as well as ski and snowboard.

Ballard has been climbing since he was a young boy. His mother was Alison Hargreaves, one of Britain’s best and well known mountaineers. She even climbed the North Face of the Eiger while six months pregnant with Tom.

She died in 1995 while descending from the summit of K2.

Tom Ballard said: “Since I was 10 all I wanted to do was to climb. Even before I was born I climbed the North Face of the Eiger. So I think it’s not much of a surprise what I do now.”

Tom Ballard was born in the Peak District but grew up in Lochaber. Photo: Ballard Images

Tom Ballard was born in the Peak District but grew up in Lochaber. Photo: Ballard Images

“I’m delighted to join Montane as an athlete alongside the likes of Andy Kirkpatrick. It is a company that shares my ethos of climbing and, of course, the clothing and packs are superb – perfect for my needs.”

As well as the ‘Starlight and Storm’ in winter, other recent highlights include second ascents of ‘Ironman’ D14+ and ‘Superman’ D13+ in Eptingen, Switzerland, and the first free ascent in winter of the 250m 8a Olimpia-Going for Gold in the Dolomites.

Terry Stephenson, marketing manager at north-eastern brand Montane, said: “It’s wonderful to have one of Europe’s greatest climbing talents join Montane’s athlete team. When the likes of Reinhold Messner declares modern alpinism is no longer moribund after seeing Tom climb, you know he is something special.

“His style of ‘done-in-a-day’ alpinism perfectly suits Montane’s ethos of producing lightweight clothing but not at the expense of quality or the ability to stand up against the harshest of conditions and we are already developing exciting new products with him.”

Ballard was the subject of the recent Kendal Mountain Festival 2015 film entry TOM which won the best mountaineering film category and was directed by Angel Estaban and Elena Goatelli. He will shortly be heading for the UIAA ice climbing world cup in Bozeman, Montana, where he’ll compete in the first round in early December.

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