Who's Who in the ABC
Kath Hipwell (she/her)
Chief Executive Officer
Kath is passionate about sport and its powerful positive impact on the body and mind. She has loved the mountains and climbing since she was a child and is now enjoying introducing her own children to her friendly local wall, NICAS and the outdoors.
Kath is responsible for the development and execution of the ABC’s strategy: working with the board and partners to promote the professionalism, health, growth and diversity of indoor climbing.
Anna Kommers (she/her)
Memberships & Marketing Coordinator
Anna is an all-round climber with a special love for indoor lead climbing and watching international competition climbing. She is a committed fair weather outdoors person and can most often be found at the climbing wall café with a coffee and her laptop.
Before joining the ABC, Anna worked in a variety of administrative and marketing roles, from producing films, to personal assistance, and social media management.
Nick Cooper (he/him)
Growing up in the Peak District Nick’s love for climbing and the outdoors started at a young age. He began climbing indoors when he was eight and since then his passion has continued to broaden to encompass all kinds of climbing.
Nick worked as a climbing instructor in his twenties before spending 15 years working for a global non-profit organization, where he managed projects and teams all over the world. He has since been drawn back to the climbing industry, working as an Instructor, Duty Manager, and Centre Manager at multiple centres before joining the ABC.
Naomi Hatto (she/her)
Route Setting Development (RSD) Coordinator
Naomi has been passionate about climbing for as long as she can remember and enjoys the personal challenges that come from pushing yourself both physically and mentally. Naomi loves pushing her limits especially when it comes to sport climbing and is enjoying introducing her daughter to the sport.
Naomi has worked professionally in climbing and as a route setter for nearly 8 years, and is excited to be involved in professionalising route setting and helping to build pathways for it to become a career for those involved.
Board Member - ABC Chair
Duncan is a relative new comer to the industry, becoming CEO at the Castle Climbing Centre in December 2015, but he has been climbing indoors and out for the past 20 years. As a passionate, if not accomplished climber, Duncan jumped at the chance to run one of the country’s biggest and busiest climbing walls.
His background in Social Housing might not appear at first sight like a good grounding for this industry but Duncan believes the leadership and organisational management skills he learnt delivering good quality, low cost housing in one of the world’s most overheated housing markets will prove useful in dealing with the unprecedented boom in indoor climbing we are now experiencing. Duncan has also been involved in not-for-profit governance positions, currently chairing a Housing Association in North London. He hopes that this experience will also help the ABC develop to meet the challenges of the sector.
Board Member - Route Setting Development
David had a successful career as an insurance professional for many years before deciding to work in the climbing industry. A keen climber since a teenager, he has managed to combine his business skills with his passion for climbing to embark on a second career.
He now runs the climbing wall at the University of Hertfordshire and helps represent the interests of smaller walls and individual members.
He has a wealth of experience working with youth groups together with commercial expertise in brand building, strategic partnerships and business acquisition.
Board Member - General
Founder and CEO of The Climbing Hangar, co-founder of the Women’s Climbing Symposium, creator of the UK’s biggest UV Climbing Competition and party and the first UK Climbing company to introduce private equity into the industry – Ged’s industry CV is diverse and only just getting going.
Ged is passionate about protecting what’s precious in our climbing culture while it evolves with the times, a flux often seen as conflict but something he believes can benefit both our crags and our sport.
Board Member - NICAS Representative & Safety
Pete is the Climbing Development Officer for Active Stirling in Scotland, a sports trust for the Stirlingshire area. He focuses on developing climbing in the local community through schools, clubs and organisations.
He has been climbing since a young age and has widely varied experience in the sector, from wall-management to outdoor instructing and summiting 6000m peaks.
Pete holds the Mountain Training Mountaineering Instructor Award and is a Ready to Rock course provider for Mountaineering Scotland.
Board Member - Safety
Dan Crossdale is the General Manager of Depot Climbing. Having started climbing in secondary school, Dan began working in the climbing industry as an instructor in 2008 and has been involved with every element of running centres from initial development through to Management.
Dan has been involved with the ABC for 14 years and has developed a passion for Health and Safety across the sector. He believes there is scope for innovation within this area and hopes to bring the sector together to see progress for the betterment of all gyms.
Board Member - Small & Independent Walls
I started climbing around 5 years ago and my only regret is that I didn’t find out about it sooner! It quickly became a huge part of my life that has continued and evolved. I now have the privilege of co-owning and operating a climbing gym, thus blending my business interests with my family and love for the sport. Building a community and managing all aspects of the centre keep me busy, but I do still try to get my shoes on when I can.
There are only a handful of walls within 100 miles or so of our centre so I am excited to meet other people in the industry, encourage community building and be involved in helping to shape what comes next as the sport continues to grow in popularity. I look forward with anticipation, to representing small independent walls and having the opportunity to influence and enhance the UK’s climbing scene.
Independent Director - Legal
Emma Perera is an employment lawyer who is passionate about climbing and supporting the ABC with its aim of promoting the professionalism, health and growth of indoor climbing.
Emma joined the ABC as a Legal Non-Executive Director in 2021 to provide support and guidance to the ABC both in relation to its own operations and its work within the climbing community. When she is not climbing at the walls in East London she likes to run away to the hills for long days out hiking.
Independent Director - EDI & Safeguarding
Dean is the CEO of Development Through Challenge, the charity that operates Mile End Climbing Wall, one of the UK’s first dedicated indoor climbing centres.
Having spent over 30 years in the charity sector working with young people in East London, his work alongside the vibrant, diverse communities of Tower Hamlets developed existing strong views around the need for inclusivity and diversity within all aspects of society and the need for an active stance against discrimination in all forms. He hopes that his passion for pursuing an active EDI agenda will help provide a more diverse and inclusive sector and help remove barriers to participation for those outside the sport.
He has been a climber and climbing coach for 25+ years and is proud to lead such an amazing team at DtC and Mile End Climbing Wall.
Independent Director - Treasurer
Ian’s background is in accountancy, followed by a period teaching maths, and then back into accountancy in business change management, leading finance functions through periods of change or challenge.
He became involved in climbing and comps in particular when his kids took up climbing, holding various positions as comps chairs and is an IFSC accredited judge.