An Interview with Tim Emmett
Between first ascents, world championship success, wingsuit flights, completing ‘the hardest ice climb in the world’ and racing Jeremy Clarkson, Tim Emmett has established himself as as one of the UK’s most decorated climbers.
The Mountain Hardwear athlete, who specialises in ice and mixed routes, is renowned for his impossibly enthusiastic attitude to facing down challenges and embracing life. But what makes somebody like Tim keep coming back for more?
We were lucky enough to get the chance to interview the man himself and ask some questions about his sport, his psychology and who he would like to take on holiday…
Why do you climb?
I climb because it takes me to some of the most amazing places in the world and I love the feeling of freedom and space when I’m high on the wall. I also like the community that climbing attracts and have many long-standing friends that have been created through it.
From rock climbing, to skydiving and base jumping, you seem to be involved in everything vertical. How do all these sports ultimately complement one another?
These sports complimented each other as modes of transport. Rock climbing gets you to the top, base jumping takes you back down to the bottom. For me skydiving was merely a way to train to be able to BASE jump.
You are only allowed to pick one. Which one do you choose and why?
Climbing. Always climbing, because every climb is different and there are so many styles of climbing as well as locations. It has a huge amount of variety. Also you don’t have to make it really dangerous to make it fun.
Climbing has undergone a huge surge in popularity. Of all the mountain sports you do (and the very few you do not), which one do you predict to be the ‘next big thing’?
I think climbing will become the most popular sport but not necessarily in the mountains. A huge surge in popularity is mainly due to the opening of climbing walls giving access to a lot of people to be able to do it. It’s great!
Do you still get scared? Or are you too wise for that now?
Yes I do you get scared but I learned how to partition this so that I can make good decisions when I need to.
When you speak to new climbers today, what piece of universal advice would you like to give them?
Learn how to climb safely then go out and explore the world and have fun. Starting is probably the most dangerous time in your climbing career. Learn how to do it safely and then go for it!
Many people will know you from that amazing photo at Helmcken falls with Will Gadd, what was it like to climb with an ice-master like Will?
Climbing with Will was a real treat. He was the guy that I looked up to when I started doing competitions. I have learned a lot from him over the years, but more importantly he is just really fun to hang out with and knows so much about his sport. I think there is a reason why he is still alive whilst many of his friends are not. He’s good at overcoming dangerous situations and he has lots of experience in this.
What are the 3 main tips you’d give to someone to keep themselves fit and injury free?
Number one is to eat well, number two’s train often and three; keep it varied. Always keep an eye open for new concepts and ideas to mix things up.
You are often described as being ‘infectiously enthusiastic’, but when you’re facing a new challenge do you ever have to talk yourself into it? Infect yourself as it were?
I really enjoy new challenges so don’t think talking myself into it is the right terminology because when something hasn’t been done before I enjoy the process of trying to figure out how to do it and then seeing if I can. Also I think having a positive outlook in all situations can do wonders for morale and can really help out when things are getting tough.
You are organising a dream-team for an expedition. Of all climbers past and present, who would you take, where would you go and why?
Wow. So I’m thinking of a holiday where we go to the ultimate Deep Water Soloing crag somewhere warm, with crystal-clear water that you need boat access to get to. Seeing as this is such a great opportunity to hang out with legends I would probably go for knowledge, wisdom and some good banter.
So I’d take Leo Holding, he is good friend and has a lot of experience (drinking cocktails). It’d be great to have Sir Chris Bonington too – he is such a legend and great to have around the campfires. Lynn Hill would definitely get an invite, and also Laird Hamilton (the big wave surfer). He can free-dive and catch us dinner!
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