John Gaskins

John Gaskins is a controversial figure in British climbing. He has claimed a number of very hard boulder problem first ascents as well as several hard repeats. Almost all his hardest ascents lack clear evidence as to whether they actually happened.

For a long time John had a lot of support within the British climbing community. For example, he claimed to have repeated Markus Bock's problem Gossip which Bock thought was very unlikely. Many in the UK climbing scene supported John's claim. It was only much later that doubts were raised about many of John's first ascents which then cast doubts over his climbing as a whole.


[1] Interview with Simon Lee from

[2] From the same interview as [1], footage of John climbing on his board


Many ascents disputed. In particular, problems like Pill Box Wall and Shadowplay do not stack up. There are some examples of him climbing hard-ish (for example Anaesthesia is on video) but none of his super hard problems.

Dan Varian has tried many of John's harder problems and attempted to clarify where the lines go several times with minimal success. He goes in to detail here

Because of the uncertainty around so many of his ascents he's been excluded from all lists.


John Gaskins
Added at 16:01 on 13 January 2021
John Gaskins
Added at 16:01 on 13 January 2021
Hubble (9a)
Added at 09:12 on 29 December 2020
Isla de Encanta (8B, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 29 December 2020
Gaskins' Problem (8B, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 29 December 2020
At the Heart of It All (8B+, FA)
Added at 09:12 on 29 December 2020
Hugh (9a)
Added at 16:12 on 29 December 2020


17 recorded ascents.

Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
Brandenburg Gate 9b (Lead Did not finish)

John supposedly got quite close to this but never managed it.

Violent New Breed 9a+ (Lead) 21 Jun 2004

Widely disputed ascent. John claimed to have worked and climbed this using a self belay setup.


Widely disputed ascent.

There is a picture of John on this, however Dan Varian has spoken to the photographer, Ray Wood, who said that John was unable to repeat any of the hard moves.

Hubble 9a (Lead)

Because of questions around many of his other ascents it is unclear whether John climbed this route.

Hugh 9a (Lead Did not finish)
Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
Walk Away SDS 8C (Boulder) 01 Sep 2002 (approx)
Il Pirata 8C (Boulder) 01 Feb 2004 (approx)
Shadowplay 8C (Boulder) 01 Oct 2004 (approx)

Almost certainly a fabricated ascent. When asked about it, John has been unable to describe the sequence used on it despite supposedly spending tens of sessions on it. There is also a complete lack of holds on it (as judged by people operating in the grade range).

Gossip 8C (Boulder)
At the Heart of It All 8B+ (Boulder) 01 Oct 2003 (approx)
Traci Lords SDS 8B+ (Boulder)
Little Women 8B+ (Boulder)

John originally claimed the line at 8A+.

Isla de Encanta 8B (Boulder) 01 Jan 1998 (approx)
Walk Away 8B (Boulder) 01 Jan 2001 (approx)
Gaskins' Problem 8B (Boulder) 05 Oct 2005

Disputed ascent (and if it is real it's the hardest 8B in the world).

Impossible Slab 8B (Boulder)
Shallow Groove 8B (Boulder)

Dan Varian

Re shallowgroove i think it's incredibly important to stress that [Aidan Roberts'] is the second ascent of Ryans direct. The line John describes in his interview should get written up as a seperate finish after the first move. If vitruvian man has a RH and LH version so should this. Even more so because the RH line has a proven track record of attempts, fails doing moves etc but the LH line only emerged in johns interview and is something entirely different... If Ryans line was easy someone else would've done it in the last 17years. Aidan is super well suited to crimping utter crap whilst standing on a ledge (as is Ryan). Its one of the weirdest hard problems in the world IMO. Literally no extra kudos for a trainers ascent. [1]


Anaesthesia 8A+ (Boulder)

Climbed with feet on the back and given 8B. New beta using heels on the lip has taken the grade to 8A+.

Climb Grade FA Ascent Date
Climb Grade FA Ascent Date