We recently caught up with Tom from Hatt Adventures to learn more about the Sussex-based adventure company as a whole…having spoken with them, we then felt compelled to dive a little deeper, and find out more about some of the awesome people who work there.
Senior climbing instructor Kyle Holman kindly shared his personal experiences with us…check it out – we think he’s a hell of a guy!
How and when did you first get into Rock climbing?
My first introduction to rock climbing was in against the incredible scenery of Glen Nevis, at the foot of Ben Nevis in Scotland. Glen Nevis hosts hundreds of small granite rock outcrops (Polldubh) and is easily accessible from the roadside, probably what my father had in mind when he took a grumbling eleven year old out.
I was led to Pinnacle Butress, to climb Pinnacle ridge (grade: very difficult) – a great beginners route with lots of holds, fantastic rock, and great exposure to the elements. Now, as a guide, I’ll never forget the importance of being clear with my instructions; as when my father called down to an eleven year old me to “swing around the corner”, I took this rather literally took hold of the rope with both hands, leapt out and swung round!
I must have climbed it a dozen times since, as have thousands since me, as the rock is polished – but it’s still great. Great scenic locations, a manageable challenge and an adventurous experience got me started that day. Soon after I was zip-wiring into quarries (another story for another time).
Wow – sounds like you’ve lead a pretty adventurous life so far!
How long have you worked at Hatt Adventures for, and what did you do as a living before your current position?
I have worked for Hatt adventures since 2007 as a part-time member of staff, balancing my adventures work alongside my job as an Apprenticeships tutor at a Brighton college.
In past lives I worked in various outdoor centres and colleges teaching and running environmental science courses, youth work programmes, and guiding clients.
So you know your stuff then!
What’s the biggest perk of your job?
I love the outdoors, so meeting enthusiastic people who want to take up a new hobby, learn skills and find an adventure is great. I never bore of seeing clients become empowered and having a great staff team means that we ourselves are continually off on our own adventures.
And what makes the rock climbing experiences with Hatt Adventures so great? What sets you guys apart from similar experiences within your field?
Our rock climbing trips are open to all, everyone can be challenged. We like to empower new climbers so they can confidently make decisions – whether they want to learn skills or have a great experience, the customer always has a say.
Our Hatt Adventures staff are knowledgeable, qualified and recognise that tailoring programmes to clients is key to ensuring all clients get out of the day, what they intended.
Organisation, lots of climbing, Q&A, local history and geology, an opportunity to learn skills and techniques, empowerment to become an independent climber and an enjoyable day out!
Sounds good to me!
What’s your most frequently asked question from customers…and of course, could you share the answer?
“Is it dangerous?” – A huge question, often asked at the beginning of the day. My answer is “No” – not if you exercise considered judgement.
Health and Safety is often cited as an excuse these days and a lot of people are no longer allowed or used to learning new skills and making judgements on their own. Fortunately that’s what we are for – to help you to make those judgements and recognise and manage risks.
And finally…have you got any funny rock climbing anecdotes you could share with our readers?
Everyone at some point pulls off a piece of rock or knocks a pebble when climbing. I once knocked a refrigerator-sized block off and into the sea whilst on Lundy. Tom Hatt (Company Founder) thought the enormous booming splash was me!
Slightly over-enthusiastically climbing in Wales in the winter – a 90m route which was supposed to take an hour – it took us 6 hours to climb with one head torch and no ice axes between us. We were very much be-knighted.
It is often said that walking to and from a crag is the dangerous part of climbing trips. My partner, on a Peak District trip, was carrying the heavy bag and tripped, falling over and landing on his back – head first down a small slope, in stinging nettles…he was wearing shorts and t-shirt! Apart from the amusement this caused, the same person then fell off his route and had to be lowered off…again into the same stinging nettles (groan). I got to the top though and it was a fantastic route!
Thank you ever so much for sharing your knowledge and stories with us Kyle!
If you fancy having a go at rock climbing, then Kyle is your guy – check out our Rock Climbing Introductory Experience, with Hatt Adventures!