Jesse is a blind rock climber. He is best known as the first blind person to lead climb the Old Man of Hoy, which is the focus of Alastair Lee’s multi award winning documentary ‘Climbing Blind’ and has been recognised as a Guinness World Record.
The Old Man of Hoy is however only a part of the extensive roster of hard traditional a.k.a “trad” rock climbs he has completed. As well as this, he is also the first blind person to claim 1st ascents in the Arctic, and a world class competition climber representing the GB Paraclimbing team.
Jesse has Rod-cone dystrophy which is a genetic condition. He was born with approximately 20% of central vision (no peripheral vision) with large blind spots. From this drastically low baseline Jesse’s vision has further deteriorated and he can now only distinguish between light and dark (light perception) in an extremely restricted field of view.
Jesse’s lack of sight means that he is no longer able to recognise images or to read. Consequently, he uses text-to-speech software in order to use a computer and to work full-time as a Principal Patent Engineer for a clean energy technology company making hydrogen fuel cells.
While Jesse has climbed all his life, he only became aware of Paraclimbing as a competitive sport in September 2017. Following his selection to the British team in early 2018, he has trained hard to improve his competition climbing, which is also providing a dividend for his outside adventures. As his eyesight deteriorates , his climbing just gets stronger. Jesse has won multiple international medals on the world stage.
In August 2020, Jesse non-sighted his first E2! The ultra classic Don Whillans route at Heptonstall, Forked Lightning Crack. Check out the video:
In all his endeavours, Jesse is guided by his wife, Molly. Together they make a formidable team.