You spent most of January climbing around the Far East with your boyfriend James Pearson. How was that trip and what were your personal climbing highlights? I think it was my best holiday ever. We discovered amazing places, absolutely unknown, in Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, places where we really hope to come back for bolting some day. We discovered an amazingly peaceful country, Laos, very very different from anything in Europe. Well, that should be an article soon, so I won’t go into too many details, but that was definitely a great time. Of course, the climbing is still developing over there, and there aren’t so many hard routes, but I still made a few 8a+ on sight, an 8b+ in Malaysia, and James ticked an 8c+, not so bad, considering we were barely doing more that 3 routes per climbing day.
Since then you've travelled to Spain and the Lieda region, perhaps the epicentre at the moment of world sport climbing. Did you head there with very specific goals? Absolutely not, I would have put my hand on fire that we would be both rubbish, as we shouldn’t have been fit. But we trained 2 weeks at the Climbing Works before Spain, while we were transforming our van into a camper van. And even if that was barely training, 1h30min sessions, when I could convince James lift his head from the electric system, it seems to have worked pretty well!
You quickly managed Fish Eye (8c) and then set your sights on Mind Control (8c+), why this route? What inspired you to take on that challenge? Well, I went up Fish Eye the very first day of your Spanish trip, thinking that would be my project for the month… except that I really surprised myself by doing it on my first redpoint attempt. Then, at first I didn’t want to try Mind Control, I guess I must have been a bit intimidated. It’s even worse, if girls have done it: more pressure, as you don’t want to have the evidence that they are much better than you. But James told me, ‘If you don’t want to go, it's as you want, but to fight against your demons is an achievement in itself.’ Well ok, I’m going, I’m going!
You managed the redpoint on your 3rd attempt, were you surprised how fast it all came together? I knew I could do it after my first time going up. But that fast, really not, I guess I got quite lucky too.
What now? Are you staying on in Spain and if so what projects are you working on? We are in Spain for at least 8 more days, but yesterday evening, I must have eaten something a bit wrong, that’s the down sides of the van life I guess J, so for now, if I could just lay under the duvet, that would be my project for the next 2 days at least.
And for the rest of 2012 and big plans? Will you return to the UK and some more trad (Caroline climbed Point Blank the Pembroke E8 in 2011)? Of course! We have to come for James’s sister’s medicine diploma, in June, and even before, we are coming in May for a road trad trip, with Hazel (Findlay), Hans Jorg (Auer), and James, that will be a bit scary, but I hope finally to succeed to place my nuts without getting hit in the teeth when I test them!
You can read more about Caroline's adventures at her blog
Look out for a full up date and stunning photography of the cutting edge of female sport climbing in Climb 87.