Jesse is an avid climber and a member of the GB Paraclimbing Team in the Visually Impaired category, B1. He is currently ranked 4th in the world in IFSC competitions which take place on artificial climbing walls. However, it is Jesse’s climbing on rock and ice which makes him unique. Jesse leads “trad” routes which involves him placing his own protection by feel as he leads the way. He has on-sighted non-sighted E1 as well as being the 1st blind person to claim first ascents of mountains in the arctic. He is most well known for his adventurous on-sight of the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland.
Jesse suffers from rod-cone dystrophy, as well as astigmatism and cataracts. Rod-cone dystrophy is a genetic condition leading to damage to the light sensitive area in the eyes. It cannot be corrected by wearing glasses and has affected him since birth. The condition is degenerative, he was born legally blind, with approximately 20% of central vision (no peripheral vision) with large blind spots, the quality of the image he could see was extremely poor and he was totally blind in low light conditions. From this drastically low baseline Jesse’s vision has further deteriorated. He can no longer recognise images or read text and only retains the ability to 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 read. Consequently, he uses text-to-speech software in order to use a computer and to work as a full-time 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 worked hard to improve his competition climbing, which is also providing a dividend for his outside adventures. Watch this space, a bright future lies ahead. An inspiration to all.