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Holly’s Path from Climber to Instructor

Climbing instructor

Holly’s Path from Climber to Instructor

It’s something you hear so often in this enlightened era – “do what makes you happy”. All those happy faces across social media of people being hideously fulfilled in the perfect job that they just landed at the right moment in their life. Sickening.

Despite spending university years training for a career in music, and then 15 years forging said career, it never really felt like a ‘calling’. Only once I’d discovered climbing four years ago, and its holistic nature, my eyes became open to this alternative existence. I gradually experienced a kind of calling to the climbing industry. I joined a local climbing club (The North London Mountaineering Club ) and instantly felt at ease with the members I met; despite my normally-crippling shyness, I realised I’d found my tribe.

I gradually experienced a calling to the climbing industry

When I joined Womenclimb as part of the Social Team, it pointed to the emergence of my new vocation: to welcome new people into the climbing world, help them find their way amongst all the hype and show and confusing techniques, and pass on this rabid over-enthusiasm of mine (crack climbing, anyone?!).

Reading for assessment! credit: Jessie Leong

I started training for my RCI (Rock Climbing Instructor, formally SPA) a few months later, which was then followed by training to be an instructor at Westway Climbing in West London. Since then I have taken friends out on climbing trips to practice my RCI skills, and the feedback I’ve received from them has shown me that I made the right decision. It was with huge relief then, that I passed my RCI assessment in October 2019, after months of practice and prep.

Also doing her assessment was Jessie Leong – climber, photographer, and all-round lovely human. I’d ‘met’ Jessie through Instagram after the Women’s Trad Fest a few years ago; since then we’d met up a number of times to climb and share the psyche for this wild, often inexplicably addictive passion of ours. It was such a relief to have a fellow woman on my RCI assessment; we supported each other when things got a bit tough, laughed at the elements that Mother Nature threw at us, and had complete trust in each other’s capabilities, especially when we doubted it ourselves.

Climbing instructor
Ready to rock! Credit: Jessie Leong

Now with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are faced with a new ‘normal’ – short-lived I hope but one that nonetheless has put a stop to any form of climbing, save for that in our homes. The interaction with friends has shifted to a virtual world where instead of calling out climbing commands, we call each other from across the country. Where instead of taking beautiful photos at newly discovered crags, we share the same photos on social media and relive the memories with a bittersweet smile. Despite the challenges we face, I hope all of us Womenclimbers can take solace in the monumental support we can offer each other, whether face-to-face or phone-to-phone. My job as a climbing instructor is on hold for now, but when I return I hope I can do so with the same enthusiasm and drive as when I started.

Instead of calling out climbing commands, we call each other from across the country

What drives me is knowing I’m helping people achieve their climbing goals, making them feel safe, supporting them throughout; it’s watching people progress, learning new skills, testing their limits, and coming back for more. And there will be more…soon.

Two newly qualified Rock Climbing Instructors. Credit: Jessie Leong

Holly is a qualified climbing instructor, based in London. You can find out more about her on her website: www.hollyperistiani.com

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