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Inspirational Climber, Caitlin Connor, Receives Prestigious Youth Mountain Culture Award

Fort William Mountain Festival organisers proudly announce Caitlin Connor from Cambuslang as the 10th recipient of The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, sponsored by UHI North, West and Hebrides.

At 20, Caitlin is a dynamic force in the climbing world. Her accolades as a member of the GB Ice Climbing Team in both the Junior and Senior teams, a Scottish ice climbing champion, co-founder of The Scottish Dry-Tooling Club, charity ambassador and fundraiser, and all-around adventure seeker highlight her exceptional contributions to mountain culture.

Caitlin’s prowess spans various climbing disciplines, excelling in ice climbing, dry-tooling, and hard sport climbing. Notably, she became the youngest UK female climber to conquer M10 and M10+ graded routes at just 17 years old.

Her climbing journey began with remarkable achievements at a young age, scaling challenging routes like ‘Persistence of Vision’ (7a+) at 13 and ‘Hamish Teddy’s Excellent Adventure’ (7b+) at 14. Her passion for Scottish Winter and Alpine Climbing led her to conquer classics like ‘Aladdin’s Mirror Direct’ (IV 4), ‘Curved Ridge’ (II/III 3), ‘Doctors Dilemma’ (IV 4), and ‘Steall Falls’ (III).

As a dedicated member of the GB Ice Climbing Team, Caitlin competes globally, having showcased her talent in the Under 19 (Youth) category and Adult European and World tours. She is very proud to have been selected for the GB team to compete in the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup 2024.

Her commitment extends beyond personal achievements; Caitlin co-founded The Scottish Dry-Tooling Club, based at the Glasgow Climbing Centre, to nurture new climbers in an inclusive environment, while also offering a safe and supportive training facility for seasoned UK climbers, and serving as its Vice Chair and Head Coach.

“I am honoured to receive the Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture,” Caitlin said. “My role in coaching and mentoring younger climbers is vital to me. Through The Scottish Dry-Tooling Club, we provide support and opportunities, fostering a thriving climbing community.”

Caitlin’s philanthropic endeavours are equally inspiring. She’s been an unwavering ambassador for Urban Uprising since 2015, using her climbs to fundraise for disadvantaged youth.  Both of Caitlin’s parents are Military Veterans along with others in her family. Her dedication to causes like PoppyScotland is evident through fundraising climbs in the Alps and a solo parachute jump (aged 16), which reflects her commitment to giving back.

Lydia Rohmer, Principal and Chief Executive, UHI North, West and Hebrides, said: “UHI North, West and Hebrides continue to be privileged to sponsor The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.  As this year’s worthy recipient, Caitlin Connor clearly displays the resilience and determination needed to compete in this challenging mountain sport and the passion and drive for excellence that success at the highest level requires.   We were also most impressed to see the range of activities and responsibilities she has undertaken to not only nurture new talent – even at her own very young age – but also to support so many other causes with her fundraising and ambassadorial roles.   These qualities are what we strive to instil in all our students at the School of Adventure Studies here in Fort William.  We offer our heartiest congratulations to Caitlin and wish her every success in the future.”

Reflecting on her win, Caitlin shared her excitement for the ongoing ice climbing season. “I am in my fifth year of competition ice climbing and am optimistic about my performance. Making finals in both rounds of the Continental Cup this season has been a highlight. I aim to continue improving my overall ranking.”


For media enquiries and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: [email protected] | M: 07913 951717

Downloadable images of Caitlin Connor:

  • Caitlin Connor Award photos – Please credit Dace MacLeod
  • Caitlin Connor climbing competition photos – Please credit Robert Hendriksen / @thatcrazydutchguy

Notes to Editors:

Caitlin Connor’s full quote:

On hearing that she had won the Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, Caitlin Connor said: “I am honoured to receive the Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.  This award is something I hold close to my heart with the activities I do in my day-to-day life, but always in my role as a coach and mentor for the younger generation, to give them the opportunities to make the best of being out in the mountains as safely as possible.

“I am co-founder of The Scottish Dry-Tooling Club. This is a club that allows others to partake in Dry-Tooling [climbing with ice axes, but no ice] and competitive ice climbing with all the support we have access to. We provide all the adequate equipment and coaching. I am currently head coach for the club and my role includes bringing youths and new talent through to enable the sport to thrive and grow as best we can. One of the amazing events we run at the club is the ‘CIC MEET’. We team up experienced winter climbing hosts with less experienced climbers for five days of climbing on the North Face of Ben Nevis. Together they start their ice climbing journey. This particular event is so important to me because it allows us to open the door and give people the chance to take part in something they otherwise might never have had the chance to do.

“I’m currently on the Great British Ice Climbing team and spend my winters competing at an international level or going out Scottish winter climbing when the conditions are right.

“I am now in my 5th year of competition ice climbing and I have made finals to both rounds of the continental cup this season so far. My overall ranking is 7th and I hope this will only get better as the season continues!”

Caitlin Connor – Useful links:


Instagram –

Facebook –

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The Fort William Mountain Festival 2023 – Useful links:

Scottish Mountain Culture Awards –

Website for up-to-date festival programme information and tickets –

Instagram – @mountainfestival –

Facebook – @mountainfestival –

YouTube – @fortwilliammountainfestival704 ––Q

The prestigious Scottish Awards for Excellence in Mountain Culture recognise the achievements and accomplishments of inspiring individuals and their outstanding contributions to Scotland’s outdoor culture, encompassing sport, theatre, art, photography, film and literature.

The award was set up in 2008 by the Highland Mountain Culture Association Ltd, organisers of the Fort William Mountain Festival.  The 2024 Award is sponsored by JAHAMA Highland Estates. The Youth Award, established in 2015, is sponsored by UHI North, West and Hebrides (School of Adventure Studies).

Previous Recipients of The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture are:

2023 – David ‘Heavy’ Whalley MBE BEM

2022 – Karen Darke

2021 – Dave Morris

2020 – Colin Prior

2019 – Noel Williams

2018 – Cameron McNeish

2017 – Dr Hamish Brown MBE

2016 – Mick Tighe

2015 – Robin Campbell

2014 – Andy Nisbet

2013 – Myrtle Simpson DL

2012 – Dr Adam Watson

2011 – Ian ‘Spike’ Sykes MBE

2010 – Jimmy Marshall

2009 – Richard Else

2008 – Dr Hamish MacInnes OBE BEM

Previous Recipients of The Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture are:

2023 – Stephanie McKenna

2022 – Kirsty Muir

2021 – Mikayla Parton

2020 – Tim Miller

2019 – Rob Cochrane

2018 – Shauna Coxsey

2017 – Robert Mackenzie

2016 – Natalie Berry

2015 – Zeki Basan

The Fort William Mountain Festival 2024 runs from Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 February 2024. Most events take place at The Nevis Centre, An Aird, Fort William PH33 6AN, as well as some satellite venues in and around the bustling Highland town of Fort William, at the heart of the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’.

Satellite venues include The Highland Cinema and Three Wise Monkeys indoor climbing centre. 

The Festival Launch Night will take place at the Nevis Centre. Venues for Explore events can be found on the website.

The Fort William Mountain Festival is made possible thanks to the support of our sponsors: Outdoor Capital of the UK, Ellis Brigham, Patagonia, Nevis Landscape Partnership,  Jahama Highland Estates, John Muir Trust, UHI North, West and Hebrides, Burns Pet Food, Gin Bothy, Stramash, GeoRope, The Highland Council, and many local friends and supporters.

 Festival tickets can sell out in advance, particularly for the popular nights. Please book early.

The festival attracts approaching 1500 people over the four days and takes place each February in and around the town of Fort William at the heart of the Outdoor Capital of the UK

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