22/06/2015

Lucy Creamer: Britain’s most accomplished female rock climber

WE TALK to British climber Lucy Creamer on her greatest accomplishments in the sport and what she enjoys most about climbing.

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Lucy Creamer

Lucy Creamer pictured with her Mastiff Boxer cross Buis (photo Tim Glasby www.timglasby.com).

 

LUCY CREAMER is known as Britain’s most successful climber. She is an eight-time British champion and has a particular passion for onisight route climbing. She started out in the sport in the late ’80s and currently trains or climbs at least three times a week.

 

In this exclusive interview Lucy talks about some of her most memorable achievements as well as her fight back from serious injury in 2009. Read on to find out more about her passion for animal welfare as well as the environment.

 

For more information about Lucy and to contact her with your climbing queries visit www.lucycreamer.com. You’ll also find her blog there where you will be able to keep up with her latest climbs and adventures.

 

Could you tell us about how and when you were first introduced to climbing and how long was it until you had ‘caught the bug’?

 

I was at an FE college in Bristol in the late ’80s studying sports management. I had very little interest in the outdoors apart from going dog walking!

 

Outdoor Ed was a module on our course and we were taken top-roping to the Avon Gorge. Expecting to hate climbing (I had been ‘abseiling’ when I was 13 or 14 and was horrified to find I was terrified of heights and refused to do it), I realised after the climbing session, some sort of spark had gently ignited inside me. It took about three years from that point of dabbling here and there to get hooked and label myself as a ‘climber’.

 

What do you enjoy most about climbing and how often do you climb at the moment?

 

Having done a lot of indoor organised team sports and not relating to the ‘outdoors’ particularly, it turns out I was really into being outside in the fresh air and natural landscapes. So, I mostly enjoy the variety of venues climbing takes you to and I also enjoy the physical challenge of it. I probably climb/train between three and five times a week.

 

Lucy Creamer rock climb

photo Tim Glasby www.timglasby.com

 

Could you tell us about some of your greatest successes in the sport?

 

There are many different styles of climbing and I gravitate towards onsight route climbing. I love the mental and physical challenge of it. You only have one chance to onsight a route, you have to be completely focussed and in the moment to climb a route onsight at your limit. It’s a great feeling when you pull it off, especially when you were pretty close to falling off.

 

So, in terms of milestone grades, onsighting f8a and E7, were very big moments for me, as they both seemed mythical grades when I first started climbing.

 

You were pretty much out of action between 2009 and 2012 due to injury. Are you now back to your best and do you feel you could take back the title of British Leading Champion?

 

Haha, my comp days are over. Comps went hand in hand with my ’outside’ climbing for many years but they require a massive amount of effort, commitment and obviously lots of climbing on plastic: especially these days, as so many people specialise climbing indoors and my heart lies in the outdoors really. 

 

I would say I’m not far from my best endurance-wise. I have onsighted a quite a few f8as over the last six months, which was the hardest I’d onsighted sport-climbing before my injuries. But I am definitely very low on power at the moment, so consequently hard redpointing seems quite a long way off.

 

I feel power will take me longer to get back, which in all honesty wasn’t particularly good in the grand scheme of things, but this has always been my weakness. We’ll see if it’s possible for a woman in her 40s to develop some much needed power!

 

What are your interests outside the world of climbing and what are you most passionate about?

 

I am very passionate about animal welfare and have been a vegetarian for about 25 years. I also am very aware of my impact on the environment and in small ways, I try to minimise waste and poisoning our planet. There is a lot more I could do I’m sure, but you just have to do what you can don’t you?

 

My partner and I also have two rescue dogs, Buis and Theo, who take up quite a lot of time. They are extremely rewarding because of the amount of love and energy they have to give but can also be trying at times, as they both have ‘issues’. So, it feels a bit like a roller coaster with them managing their needs and juggling time but life wouldn’t be the same without them! We also had another rescue dog, Kodo, who was just the dream dog – she was pretty much perfect for us in every way and didn’t have ‘issues’. It’s been an interesting journey of discovery dealing with our current two, it certainly helps you to look at things differently and get a perspective on certain things in life.

 

I am an obsessive climber but am not obsessed by climbing. I find there is a lot going on in the big wide world that interests me. I am fascinated by people, how the mind works and how they live their lives.

 

I enjoy meeting new people who aren’t climbers – it’s interesting to get a different perspective on what’s going on out there.

 

dogs

Buis and Theo both play important roles in Lucy and her partner’s lives.

 

If you could offer some words of advice for those inspired by what you do, and perhaps thinking of climbing themselves, what would those words be?

 

If you like the feeling of your body moving in a creative way and your muscles working. And if you enjoy being challenged to problem solve and think laterally, then the chances are climbing is for you. I thought I was scared of heights until I started climbing but what I realised was that I wasn’t scared of heights when I was climbing because I understood how the safety systems worked and had complete confidence in that system. An important thing to remember is, always climb with someone you trust. This is a big part of climbing and if you don’t trust your partner 100 per cent, then this can really affect your enjoyment but more importantly your confidence.

 

Climbing is fun and probably one of the best ways to exercise the body as a whole – give it a go!

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