Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Ed Hamer: the interview

Back in 2011 I was asked to interview two rising stars in the British rock climbing scene for the BMC's Psyched! magazine - which focused on Team GB's competition news. Unfortunately, this issue was never published. I got in touch with the editor a few weeks ago to find out what was going on and, with no publication date in sight, as well as the interviews becoming dated, I asked whether I could publish them here, on my blog
. This is the second of those interviews (the first, with Shauna Coxsey, can be read here), written in November 2011.

Ed Hamer: the interview

Ed Hamer in Spain

It has been an exceptional year for Ed Hamer. A three-month rock climbing road trip around Europe preceded a near podium finish at the European Youth Championships in Imst, Austria. And that success was trumped by a 2nd place finish at the World Youth Championships at the same venue just two weeks later, after spending ten days between competitions climbing in the country’s granite wonderland of Zillertal. 

And now, with 2012 just around the corner, he is set to move up to the Senior GB Climbing and Bouldering Teams. The 19-year-old is hungry to challenge the world’s best and, with sport climbing currently being considered for the 2020 Olympics, he might be doing that on a much bigger stage before long.

But first, Ed took time out to tell us how it all led up to his most successful year to date.

How old were you when you started rock climbing and how did you get involved?

I started climbing seriously in 2005 (when I was 13 years old) mainly at the walls in Leeds, Hull and York. My dad encouraged us! He had put up numerous trad routes in Zimbabwe, up to E5, back in the 80’s. We were living out in Africa for many years and we have, as a family, always been on holidays mountaineering in Europe, Africa and South America. It was as an extension to that that we got into rock climbing.

Can you remember when you first competed? How did it go?

My first competition was the Brycs, when I was about 14 years old. I managed to gain 12th place on the regional round at Rock City in Hull, but that wasn’t enough to get into any finals. Haha! At this point I wasn’t too keen for indoor competitions but thought I would have a go.

Since then, have you been progressing steadily? Culminating this year, of course, when you won the BLCC Juniors category and came 2nd in seniors, as well as coming 2nd in the World Youth Championships. How did that feel?

I think ever since those early comps I have just been keen to get strong and work on my weaknesses and this has manifested itself in steady improvement in my competition results. Coming 2nd in the World Championships was definitely my best comp result and it was the best overall feeling ever. I have worked hard training wise, alongside Tom Randall and Luke Tilley, who are also both psyched to improve in their climbing.

This must be your most successful year to date? What would be your highlight?

For me, coming 2nd at the Worlds has to be one of the best feelings ever. A huge amount of commitment and training paid off!

Alongside this, however, my highlight from this year would have to be chilling with my friends Luke, Gasper (from the Slovenian team), Kitty, Sam, Ethan and Al, who were all out in Ceuse in July, when I spent five weeks of my three month climbing road trip in a van with my brother Sam. We all sent some amazing routes and shared the stories the evening after.

One of my favourite climbing days was when I and Luke Tilley climbed an amazing route called Radote Joli Pepere (8b) on a warm summer evening. Steep, pocketed route with a pumpy, exposed finish at the top. Also my best climbing day at Ceuse was when I managed to flash Le Poinconneur Des Lilas (8a+) and then finished the day by onsighting Encore (8a+). Badass day!

The full three month trip involved climbing in Austria, France and Italy and crushing over 300 routes, 45 of which were Grade 8’s, on 15 different crags. We traveled over 5000km and used up 11 of the 350g mega sized chalk bags that we had taken. We swam in 8 different lakes and ate a huge amount of baguettes and drank an enormous amount of tea! Great Trip!

Is there anything in particular that you would put your climbing success down to or is it a range of things?

Well the best thing to do would be to train hard but make sure you do the correct kind of training so you don’t risk injury. I think the best training for anything is climbing outdoors and use a huge amount of chalk. I spent one month at Ceuse in July and then came 4th at the EYC in Bulgaria (my best European result) then had 10 days outdoors in Zillertal before the World Champs and managed to come 2nd. I found climbing outside really made me relax more and just enjoy climbing and being there.

Ed Hamer in Spain

In terms of competitions, where do you see yourself going in the future? Will you be challenging Jakob Shubert for the IFSC Lead World Cup? And with Sport Climbing being considered for the Olympics down the line, is this something you could see yourself competing in?

Yes! Absolutely I will challenge Jakob Shubert! I am now psyched to take on the best. At the end of this year I move from the Junior team to the Seniors plus join the British Bouldering team. This will be a challenge, to represent both disciplines in competitions but I am confident that I can do this, as a lot of my lead training actually involves hard, repeated boulder circuits. I have proved that I can get the results and I am keen to represent the British Team on future podiums.

With regards to the Olympics, after spending time with the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and Kelly Holmes at a reception in Westminster promoting climbing and its inclusion in the Games, I am psyched to work towards competing in the event whenever it happens, which will probably be 2020. I think it would be amazing for the sport if it gained this position as an Olympic Sport. We have the talent, the superb walls for training and the commitment from individuals. Let’s hope we get the opportunity to show our worth on the Olympic stage.

Back to climbing outdoors: can we get the stats? Hardest trad? Hardest sport? Hardest boulder?

My hardest trad route would be “The End Of The Affair” at E8 6c at Curbar back in October 2010. This is not such a difficult route but deffo found it quite sketchy as the day after I was flying out for a European Competition.

Here are a few of my hardest sport routes – Je Suis Une Hyene 8b+ (Orpiere, France), El Salto del Angel 8b+ (Rodellar, Spain), Mecca 8b+ (Raven Tor, UK), Darwin Dixit 8b+ (Margalef, Spain). I have also onsighted 8a+ and climbed 9 8b’s 2nd go.

My hardest boulder is probably Pete Robins’ “In Heaven” at 8A+ or 8c route in Parisella’s Cave.

With winter nearly here, any other trips planned or projects you want to complete?

At the moment I have some projects brewing but am also keen to get fitter and hopefully stronger for the next year of lead and boulder comps. Bring on Rubicon!

Ed is sponsored by Wild Country/Red CHili, Beal and Moon.