MA in Anthropology: writing a thesis about climbing

A guest-post written for OWA can be read here. When the time came to choose my MA dissertation’s topic, I was terrified. The plan was to write about something at least remotely connected to my bachelor’s course, but it just wasn’t exciting any more. I watched the eyes of my peers glow as they talked about their topics and I wanted to feel what they felt. I wanted to write about something that continuously drives and inspires me. Climbing. Now, […]

Eva Lopez Interview

TRAINING, FUTURE 9a PLANS AND WOMEN’S CLIMBING Eva is a climbing coach and a scholar researching training methods at a PhD level. She’s forty-two and in October last year she climbed her first 8c+, Potemkin, in the Spanish region of Cuenca. She bolted the route a few years back but didn’t manage the first ascent. Now she’s in her best shape and searching for a new challenge. In November I had the pleasure of meeting Eva during Women’s Climbing Symposium […]

Can the fat acceptance movement help people be fit?

‘Fat acceptance movement’ doesn’t sound good. Let’s face it, it just doesn’t. Being fat is, in most cases, not being fit. Fit is healthy, so we all want to be fit. Not fat. Why would you want to accept obesity? Because according to scientists from Monash University, the University of New England and the University of Canberra, body acceptance can lead to healthier diet and increased exercise. I didn’t want to argue with the result of a study that spanned three […]

Artists, punks and climbers: Dr Julie Angel interview

If you’re interested in parkour and watch a shed load of vids, you’ve probably heard about Julie Angel. If you’re into social sciences and lifestyle sports theory, you’ve also probably heard about Julie Angel. She works closely with Parkour Generations and holds a PhD in parkour film. Her latest series of short documentaries focuses on a new urban phenomenon: buildering. (Bouldering on buildings – clever, right?) And while some crazy guys were already doing it more than 60 years ago […]

A few words about PSICOBLOC

It was already past one o’clock when we arrived at the beach in Cala Barques and the temperature was searing above thirty five degrees centigrade. We sat heavily under a tree to devise a plan. Coming to Majorca without a car and with nobody to tell us where to go never seemed like a worse idea. After a somewhat unsuccessful day at Portocolom, which involved hours long search for the crag and being chased down a steep cliff by a […]

Fairlop Waters Bouldering

Waking up on a Sunday morning and getting to know that the temperature will be in the high twenties is great… as long as you can go climbing. I know, I know, all you grit terrorisers shaking your heads thinking about friction, but I actually do like climbing in the heat, alright? And gym just doesn’t do on a beautiful summer day. Sadly, one odd day of sunshine is often not enough to go to the Peak without planning, especially […]

It’s good to be a slacker

If Lynn Hill says that something is a good addition to a climber’s training, it means just that. It cannot be questioned. Now, I’m going to assume for a moment some of you are from Mars and haven’t heard of Lynn, so just a brief recap. In 1993 she was the first person to free climb the Nose. And a year later the first person to free climb the Nose in under 24 hours. And yes, she did it before […]

Tatra Mountains lesson – part II

When my dream of climbing in the Tatra Mountains finally came true in September last year, it was a real dream team trip.  My predominantly bouldering partner and an indoor climbing me among 8000ft tall unpredictable granite peaks was like asking for trouble. Although in the beginning it was going quite well, we did spend eight hours on a six pitches route that can be done in under three hours. But taking into account the weather (hail storm) and the […]

‘Why is fear such a taboo?’

Guest post by Dr Rebecca Williams of Smart Climbing: Fear is a normal human emotion, with many functional benefits. Its role is to alert us to danger and activate helpful responses to get us out of danger – most typically fight, flight or freeze. This means that trying to get rid of fear is not only impossible, but is actually counter to millennia of evolving adaptive survival responses. This might not be a popular view among climbers, particularly those of […]

Tori Allen interview

Tori Allen is definitely one of a kind. She grew up climbing trees with her pet monkey in Benin, where her parents moved on a Christian mission. Extraordinary childhood was a beginning of an extraordinary life. At the age of ten, back in her native USA, Tori saw her first climbing wall in a sports store. From that day it took her mere six months to be crowned Jr. National Champion. Soon after, she became a professional athlete with a […]

Say hello to the campus board

As the Easter break weather was good for cross-country skiing (I’m guessing), but not so good for climbing, I decided to celebrate the occasion meeting some friends for a super long indoor session. Deprived of my real rock weekend, I was really psyched to climb hard. But not long after I got to the gym, my excitement gave way to frustration. Here I was again, sitting on the mats, staring at another problem I knew was easy, I knew how […]

Tatra Mountains lesson – part I

Allow me to entertain you today with the first part of a rather lengthy story of failure and success. A story of how my partner and I got ourselves into a pretty bad mess. And how we got ourselves out. It goes something like this: Every now and then (or, let’s face it, pretty much all the time), I feel this strong craving to go back to the High Tatras. These Alpine style peaks belong to the Carpathian range and […]

Parkour – the first impression

It’s almost nine in Pimlico, Central London. I’m standing on a bench, not more than two feet of the ground. The next bench in front of me seems to be at least a mile away. Eyeing its edge I’m wondering if in the faint light of the street lamps I won’t just smash my shins on it. That would be rather painful. Behind me I can hear the coach’s voice giving instructions to other women. One of them came here […]

We all get scared from time to time… Or, do we?

Do you know the moment in Honnold 3.0 when Alex almost slips before clipping in? Just watching it, I could feel my blood run cold. And do you know how sometimes just before taking a fall your brain ‘forgets’ there is a rope or a pad to catch you? And later it can take a good couple of minutes to recover?  Well, clearly Alex Honnold doesn’t get this feeling. Plus in his case there would be no rope to catch […]

Why Push It is a brilliant piece of filmmaking

Push It Trailer from Jen Randall, Light Shed Pictures on Vimeo.   First of all, timing.  Lately climbing has become less and less of a male domain; this applies both to pushing the grade on the most difficult lines on Earth and to the rising numbers of recreational female gym-goers. Motivations and goals are different, with some doing it because of pure ambition and others to tone their arms before the bikini season, but the trend is here and it […]