scarpa south africa

Tash Smith

Tash is a passionate climber who loves spending time projecting in Rocklands, Montagu, and Oudtshoorn. While climbing outdoors is her passion Tash can often be found climbing at City Rock and Bloc 11 in Cape Town.

How did you get into climbing and what inspired you to pursue it seriously?

I started climbing in high school with some friends but definitely didn’t take it seriously and was mostly afraid of getting off the ground. So it was only after dating a climber (Mikey) and getting taken to crags where I couldn’t even try most of the climbs that everyone else was having fun on that I wanted to actually take it seriously and be able to get on harder routes.

As a climber, what do you consider to be the most challenging aspect of this sport, and how do you overcome those challenges?

Right now I would have to say the mental aspect, it’s been hard not sending and feeling like I’m ‘stuck’ on the same grade but trying to enjoy the times I do get outside and being able to try hard things.

What has been your most memorable climbing experience so far and why was it so special to you?

Probably trying short circuit at Oudtshoorn at the end of last year, I was so psyched to start training for it but then got another finger injury. Took some time off and after only gym climbing for about a month before to try get back some fitness I was able to still try it. Surprisingly made some good links on moves that felt impossible, found my power scream and on new year’s day I had one last go and fell just below the chains. I probably climbed better that day than when I sent it the next trip.

Can you share a time when you faced a difficult situation while climbing and how you managed to overcome it?

Besides the mental aspect of not sending and not feeling good enough which is probably the most difficult. There’s been a few times out sport climbing placing draws where I’ve been really scared of falling on long lead outs and then had to calm myself and keep going, one particular time near the chains the route was seeping and there was the last draw was a bit below me and I grabbed a tree over the edge and ended up with my back against the wall and looking down at my belayer but managed to get the draw in and clip.

south african rock climber
What are your favourite climbing destinations, and what makes them stand out for you?

Umgeni valley for sport climbing, there are so many amazing routes there of different styles and a lot of crimpy headwalls which I miss. Rocklands for bouldering, it’s an amazing place with an infinite number of boulders in various styles, climbing there has really improved my technique and is the reason I got more into bouldering but that did take a while.

How do you balance your climbing goals with other commitments and responsibilities in your life?

Not as well as I would like, this year has been very busy with trying to do PhD research, planning a wedding and still trying to work towards my climbing goals.

Are there any specific climbing projects or goals you are currently working towards?

There are always lots, at the moment all boulder projects: the main one is No late tenders where I’ve got all the moves and have to try put it together, and also Caroline which it seems like I have been trying for a while but I probably haven’t given it the time it deserves.

What types of climbing do you specialize in, and do you have a favourite style or discipline?

I am probably a better sport climber than boulderer but I do enjoy both. I prefer shorter power endurance routes, crimps and tension moves. I’m not the best at powerful burly overhanging boulders but I really enjoy trying them.

What advice would you give to aspiring climbers who look up to you as a role model in the sport?

I took a long time to actually get anywhere in climbing, it felt like it took ages just to climb 21. But I spent a lot of time trying things that were too hard for me in the beginning mostly because there weren’t many easier grades at some of the crags I went to and I think that helped. I used to be more self-conscious of doing that in the gym but now I don’t care as much and if I can’t do one move I’ll try the next. Climbing with people who are better has helped, but also finding your own way to do things as strength is not usually my strength. Perseverance is probably my greatest climbing skill, just trying really hard and keep going back until I can do something.

What are your thoughts on the evolving landscape of climbing, including its growing popularity and potential impact on climbing areas?

As climbers I think we all need to be very mindful of our impact on climbing areas especially popular ones which experience erosion and general degradation and take precautions to keep this to a minimum. Having access to conservation areas is a privilege and I think people sometimes abuse this by not following regulations which can have a negative effect on the area and its inhabitants. We need to leave these areas as we found them and take all your trash out with you including biodegradables.

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