Filming and Training

This winter/spring is a big time for me in terms of my climbing career! The holy grail for professional climbing is being in the Reel Rock tour in terms of media exposure. Its a collaboration between Sender films and Big Up productions and it’s the most successful climbing film tour/dvd going, especially in the States. When those guys asked if I wanted to be in the film, I felt flattered. The plan is for me to be in a 20/30 minute segment, some of which will be me climbing in the UK, with most of it being about Emily Harrington and myself in Morocco. With this being such a successful film and it being very good for my career as a professional climber I wanted to make sure I did my best.


Fist things first – I needed to get fit and that’s what I did in January and February, culminating in my first 8b+ in Catalunya. Next up, I needed to get filmed. I had planned to set aside March and most of April to concentrate on climbing and filming in the UK. That resulted in climbing and filming the E9 ‘Chicama’ in North Wales. This March displayed some of the most awful weather on record and given that most animals weren’t able to survive a night in the fields I was psyched to do even one route. Dom Bush and Matt Pycroft filmed this and I was happy to get started on compiling footage for the Reel Rock guys.


Chicama, E9 (Matt Pycroft)

It’s amazing how much work goes in to 10 minutes of footage. The audience will never know how many hours goes in to one minute, well I can tell you its hundreds. Chicama was only one day of footage, but to make a good film you need more and I guess it is also important for the film guys to get to know me, so Bret and Josh Lowell from Big Bup came over from America for a visit. They wanted to do interviews and also film me on another bold trad route in the UK. Having just hurt my knee in the climbing wall I wasn’t sure I would be able to jump on another project and get it done in the seven days that they had over here, so I suggested that they film me on something I’d already done, and the obvious choice was the other E9 I’ve climbed ‘Once Upon a Time in the SouthWest’ on Dyers Lookout.

Dave Birkett's Once Upon a Time in the South West, my first E9 (Dave Pickford)

Dave Birkett’s Once Upon a Time in the South West, my first E9 (Dave Pickford)

It was really strange filming that route. Usually when you climb something bold the desire of doing the route overcomes any sense of fear you have. However, having already done the route there was no desire at all, (other than to make the film) so I found myself feeling quite terrified to be back up on that slab, trying to remember the moves. That wall is really impressive so I look forward to seeing what it looks like on the screen.

The main part of the film will be about Emily and myself trying a big wall in Taghia, Morocco in May. Since Emily and I haven’t climbed much together and we have been mostly doing single pitch stuff – a good idea would be to go training together! My idea of training is a trip to Spain, so that’s what we did.


This was our biggest training day, where we tried to climb the length of Babel (800m) – we didn’t come close and it still felt like a lot of climbing!

Unfortunately it rained almost solidly for a week, so instead of climbing the vertical stuff similar in style to Taghia, we ended up climbing steep stuff. Not to worry, it’s good to have your arms in shape no matter what and we got a lot of climbing done, not to mention the crucial bonding time we spent together.

After Spain I spent a week at home, climbing, seeing my boyfriend and friends before the month away. A lot of professional athletes don’t get to do their sport much just for themselves. For example big mountain skiers will only ski big mountains if they have a heli in tow shooting everything they do. I think this is a shame and I love the fact that this isn’t the case with climbing. During my week at home, I went to Pembroke and saw so many friendly faces. Things were pretty chilled out on the climbing side, since I wanted to be rested up before Morocco, but I got a few classics done, like Ghost Train, which is a route I’ve been meaning to do for a while, and it didn’t disappoint!

Off to Morocco! Tagine for a whole month!

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