Welcome to Episode 44 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand. In this episode, I speak with rock climber, big waller, ice climber, whitewater canoeist and orienteerer, Rick McGregor.
Rick was born in Auckland in the 1950s and, as a young Auckland Grammar student, happened upon the opportunity to climb at the short side of the Quarry (now known as the crag that Auckland Grammar School closed because of ridiculous ideas about ridiculous health and safety laws). He quickly fell in love with climbing and fell in with the leading (only?) Auckland rock climbers of the day, including the famous Robbie McBirney.
As Rick tells it, it wasn't long before he and Robbie grew bored of the short side, whereupon they wandered around the corner to see whether the long side (hitherto used to practice the obscure and doomed art of aid climbing) to see whether there were free climbing opportunities. The rest is literally history, with Rick bagging many classic first ascents such as Bandersnatch 19, Thimblerigger 21 and his Quarry test piece, the cleverly named Perennial Pipedreams 26.
Driven and productive would be two words to describe Rick and his approach to climbing. In a climbing "career" that spans more than 50 years, Rick has travelled and climbed extensively in New Zealand and abroad, including extended periods in Australia and Yosemite. He has lived in Sweden for the past 25 years but that hasn't stopped him making regular visits to the Shaky Isles. And it seems that he hasn't ever slowed down.
Besides the climbing, Rick found time to become an internationally competitive kayaker. As you do. He has also done "about 450 days" of ice climbing, competed internationally in orienteering and no doubt done many other things. Exhausted? Rick isn't. At 67 years young, he's still going strong.
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