HB: Can we ask you about climbing generally now? Everything is always changing isn't it but climbing is changing quite fast now - in that everywhere you go there seems to be a new bouldering wall opening, climbing is in the Olympics, there is just a lot more people coming to the sport. What do you feel about that?
NC: Well – in general I would say I feel really positive. It just shows we’re doing a really cool sport. No matter if you live in a city or if you're younger older whatever this is a really cool feeling. A fun thing to do.
Sometimes I feel a bit disconnected or just like I’m living in another world than most of those climbers, the gym climbers who may have no idea about climbing history for example, but at the same time it's good. In general it has a really really positive aspect.
I would say the more you have gym climbers, the more the public are climbers, the more the really, what would you say? authentic rock climbers? are shown in a good light – as something of an inspiration for everyone. I’m a little bit in in this position you know, just climbing really beautiful lines, and pushing my limits out there. All the time in every kind of environment and this is actually what many of those people dream of, so it’s really of benefit to me. And I would say the more you have gym climbers, and the less you have the ‘core community’, the more we appreciate it, I would say.
HB: So it brings opportunity for people in in your position, and a greater sense of appreciation for what you’re doing. Do you feel that the ‘core community’ if we call it that has a responsibility to do certain things? Do we have a responsibility to some extent educate people about how to behave climbing outdoors? Do you think that the climbing history is an important part of it or is that something that will just become less important to most people?
NC: I think it’s not so important to hang on to the climbing history and stuff. It’s there. But I think that the people who are perhaps too much into the history live somewhat in the past and not really in the present.
I think our responsibility is just to be totally authentic, and to find a way to communicate the reason why you climb, and what is your motivation. I would say this is a big difference between a fitness gym climber compared to a rock climber, a gypsy rock climber. It’s definite that we love we love nature, we love being out, there we love having fun we love playing in in the mountains, no matter what. And I think that their motivation, for a fitness gym climbers, is more ‘This is such a funny sport. I want to have fun, I wanna feel strong, I want to look strong I want to be strong.’ So I think if we ,‘the core community’ can just stay as we are, always , truly dedicated to climbing no matter what, to nature, to going on expeditions and stuff, then this is good. I think this is really important.
I can see, especially in the female community there is so much emphasis body type and copying and being an idol and so on. So I think if someone you look up to from a magazine or a film or whatever is just a really authentic, dedicated to nature person this is always good because those in hard times when you kind of suck, or you feel bad, you just look at this person saying ‘look - she's just outdoors being happy’, that’s helpful.
So this is my responsibility – not to drift to showing a weird motivation. Not to influence in a weird way. I really pay attention, for example, after all the social media thing I really pay attention to continue writing, doing interviews, producing films and deeper communication. In my social media I really pay attention to show the beauty of nature, the adventure, appreciation of simple things. I'm really not into fitness, or showing too much body or other stuff. I have my core values.
HB: And it sounds like your reflections during this period of confinement have really just highlighted this to you? It's not all about the grade and the performance, it's about nature, being outside, spending time outdoors – that’s what’s really important to you?
NC: Yeah exactly. I mean the performance right now is really not there. It’s just not there. We are lucky, we are up in the mountains, so I can spend time outdoors. Just being. You know I'm totally into plants and flowers, and I’m super fanatical about what can we make with what nature has to offer seasonally so I spend hours and hours and hours outdoors just watching things, collecting flowers, making tea or making like jams whatever..
HB: Have you found a favourite tea plant?
NC: Well, right now it’s the season of ‘pissenlit’ – dandelions - so we had bunch of salads with the young greens - so much salad - and then we made jam with the yellow flower. There are birds out on the balcony so we feed the birds, the neighbours have chickens, we have a little river in the garden so we were building tub in it and so everyday we take like a really cold bath in it, so you know it feels like we are living in and living with nature.
HB: …you’re making lockdown sound pretty good…
NC: It is true actually, it is true. Living with the people I chose to, choosing to live like this, lockdown is pretty awesome. We play a lot of music too, we do lots of singing lots of playing games.
Before, my life was really simple. I was really dedicated to living with nature and to just live the present moment to its fullest, but there was always the reason behind it. Always the climbing. And now it is that the climbing is not here and it shows me what I really like in my life is being close to, and living in, nature.
Of course we also started to train here in our little house, we have a pull up bar and with some wood we’ve made some hang board things, it’s cool. It’s super simple, but authentic and a lot of moving, you know, I love pushing a little bit but it’s not a performance thing at all. It’s good to feel – it’s good to live that. So it’s true, our lockdown is really not bad.
HB: I think we both feel very lucky not to living in the middle of a big city right now! I wanted to go back to the ask you about things like body image issues, Instagram abuse that some female athletes are getting – What would you say we all need to do to make it a supportive environment?
NC: Yeah – you know you can’t change the nature of your motivation to do climbing, right?
So if you live in a city you're into climbing and you only go gym climbing, then of course you have other motivations to climb, and the image is different. Our responsibilities as being professional rock climber is definitely to show our side, this side of the climbing. Being outside, loving climbing but also nature and adventures and pushing your limits, and experiencing things. That’s good, and I think we need it. As a paid athlete, a rock climber, it's a good thing to stay authentic too that. But we can't really influence how you started climbing or how you live it.
HB: So accepting that everyone has different reasons for doing what they're doing - and that's fine - would help the situation? If you're a gym climber who does lots of gym work and your thing is looking strong - fine - but that's not what you're going pursue?
NC: Totally – just stay true to yourself, and to your own motivations. Like you do with Hard Bars. Just stay truly authentic to the reasons why you do it, what you want to change, what is your point of view, how can we do things better. This is great.
HB: Just do your thing…and let others do their thing… I guess it’s too early to think about what you might get up to next?
NC: Yeah it is. We can’t really think about it. It’s good not to make too many plans, not to drift too much. Of course the world will change a little bit, but it will also be lots of back to reality and normal life again. But I think we should take this experience as a special thing and live it fully as it is.
Lockdown life in the mountains ain’t all bad – Photo Jeremy Bonnard