Molly Thompson Smith

Molly Thompson Smith
Edinburgh EYC 2013

Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Transition

As most people know, I’ve got quite the reputation for being a religious gym climber, plastic puller and even ‘fake climber’ to some. I’ve been climbing for 11 years now, with almost all of that being indoors in London.  My training partner when I was younger, Buster Martin, was very into climbing outside and would be constantly engaged in conversation with my coach about the routes he’d just heard of, projects he had,  and hard climbs he wanted to do one day. Being cold, uncomfortable and not being able to see the next hold never appealed to me at that age, and I felt a pressure to join the masses and climb some stuff outside. But I never felt as if I’d ever enjoy it or be able to climb/push myself as hard as I could inside – in my comfort zone.  I was constantly being asked when I was going to make ‘the transition’, or get into climbing outside and back then, funnily enough I hoped the answer was never! I was happy being Molly who only ever climbed inside and would be a comp climber for the rest of her life ha! So this blog is about the turning point for me, and about my newfound psyche that is pretty hard to get out of my head!

Apart from visiting Harrison’s Rocks when I was roughly 9, I count my first ever proper outdoors experience as a day spent on the grit at Stanage with the GB Junior Bouldering Team 2 years ago. I enjoyed the novelty of it all, but it was a little strange; this is what everyone raved about? Looking back I can only laugh at how wrong I was. The climbing was fun, the people were fun, the pads were a bit of a faff and it snowed so I was cold. Overall, a mixed day.
Goredale - Rob Russell

I decided to give it another go later that year with my two coaches at the time – Liam Halsey and Rob Russell.  I had been having a great season, with winning my first EYC and finishing 2nd in the European Youth Champs (both in lead), and thought with my current form and positive attitude I might find this outdoor psyche I was missing. It was a great week and I did enjoy bouldering in the Lake District and getting on some routes, but again I was a little uncomfortable, scared of falling on a rope, and annoyed at rubbish phone service. I went home having had a great time but ready for a break before I returned.

Kilnsey - Jim Pope
I tried Kilnsey next, with the experienced Jim Pope and Ian Dunn. This was a great 3 days where I tried a few routes, but wasn’t that keen to pull on more than a couple times a day – a mix of fear of falling/not knowing where I was going and lack of confidence I think. It was good fun but I still didn’t feel comfortable with not having bright blue blobs showing me the way, and with feeling so alone high up on routes.

Egöiste - Joe Swales (Font 2)
The next stage of my transition was my two trips to Fontainebleau. I went once in October last year, and again in March this year. These trips were pretty social, going with friends and having an attitude where I was psyched to have a go at stuff but wasn’t too fussed with what I got up and was cool with watching others climb hard. I did climb my first 7C on the first trip (Carnage sit) and was like ‘ahh that’s cool, wonder if there’s anymore I can do’… which there weren’t, and I wasn’t too fussed about it. The second trip to Font was a bit unfortunate; my good friend Aidan shattered his heel, Luke hurt himself (twice!), Joe pulled his hamstring and it rained for 7 out of the 9 days we were there.  So I came home having not climbed much but not caring that much again.

So… fast forward to July 2016….

A group of friends and I decided that Magic Wood would be a good summer destination for a climbing trip. I was keen to get away from the comp scene, be with friends and see what this place I’d seen plenty of vids about was like. I actually felt pretty psyched before I went out which was definitely a change! The long journey gave me an opportunity to look through the guide and actually create a list of stuff I wanted to try and get done, again a first for me. Whilst climbing in Magic Wood I learnt a lot; I learnt that sometimes things don’t always go in one session – a concept that was absolutely absurd to me previously as I was a firm believer of I can either do it today, or I cant at all! I also learnt how to full crimp (yes I know it took me a long time, - I grew up dragging), and also got an idea of what level I thought I was at outdoors. I noticed that I didn’t care that it was cold, or that I couldn’t get any service, or that sometimes I’d have to go for a ‘jungle pee’, or that I might have to walk 20 minutes up a hill to get to someone’s project… carrying pads too!!!  It was all part of it, and I was enjoying every single second of it. I didn’t want rest days to come, I wanted to try everything – even if it was cold, raining, too lanky, not my style etc… I realised that I actually enjoyed being outside with friends, and enjoyed having a crazy battle with a piece of rock (and sometimes succeeding).

Having a great time failing on Beach Mantle (6C) - Billy Ridal
So I’m not going to talk about all the things I got up in Switzerland, I’d rather you knew that I learnt things, and found the appreciation and enjoyment for climbing outside that I’d been looking for. I still get the ‘but you don’t climb outside!’ every now and again, but now I at least feel like that isn’t completely true, and that I can at least say that I really like doing it! 

Bit long but thought why not, it’s been ages since I last blogged! So well done if you got this far ;)

P.s I decided to dedicate my instagram page to climbing (mainly!) so if you want to see what I’m up to and where I am then follow @mollyts123 !!

And lastly, a massive thank you to my sponsors, especially ...

Lyon Outdoor
Sport England
Michael & Lauren Clancy