‘You are not alone. Being afraid is normal.’
These are the words of Rocio Siemens. Rocio (pronounced Rotheo) is a 5ft 5 (165cm) tall Spaniard who started climbing at the age of 21. Depending on how stretchy the material is she is a size 10 or 12. Born in 1975, she is 41 years old at the time of writing. She is an International Mountain Guide and an IFMGA member who climbs all sorts of winter and summer routes in the UK and beyond. Her short answers are an incredibly insightful look into the life and experience of this climber. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Tell us how you started climbing:
Through friends at Uni, with the mountaineering club, at the local climbing wall and a bit outdoors. I started helping out with the club and most of my friends were keen climbers so I went along with them.
What problems did you have when you first began climbing, if any?
None as far as I could see at the time. Now, I think there weren’t that many girls climbing. Maybe more girls around would’ve been more inspiring.
Tell us about your climbing:
I’m an all-rounder: trad, boulder, alpinism and sport. I climb throughout the UK, Europe and beyond. I climb as often as possible. I train for climbing.
Why do you rock climb?
Because I feel at home. It’s (one of) the highest expression of myself.
What’s the best thing about climbing?
The best thing about climbing is…the struggle.
Have you ever taught others to climb? If you have could you tell us about that?
I regularly teach others about climbing. I enjoy it very much as it allows me to relive my own experience.
What would you say to someone thinking about having a go at rock climbing?
Have a go!
Do you have any climbing tips or tricks that have helped you through problems (big or small) or tricky times?
Mental focus is very important. It helps you control your fear.
What has been the most difficult thing for you during the time that you’ve been a rock climber?
Reaching plateaus is hard. I have learned to overcome plateaus by training. Learning to train is hard but very rewarding when you get the knack of it. I have found inspiration in friends who I see trying and training hard.
What would you recommend to other people if they experience the same difficulties you’ve experience?
Seek inspiration from others around you: women, men, children…anyone who is trying at climbing is a source of inspiration.
Do you have any health issues or disabilities?
I have recently been diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism.
How does climbing fit in to your life?
It’s what I plan to do for the rest of my life.
Do you work and how does this affect or link in with climbing?
My work is very physically demanding so I try to work in chunks, so I can have enough time off to climb for myself.
What is the best climbing experience you’ve had?
They’re all good- even the ugly ones. It’s all part of the learning.
Do you have any children or caring responsibilities?
What life experiences have you had that have influenced your rock climbing, if any?
A mildly disaffected childhood- I redirected my energies to the outdoors and never looked back.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the community of climbers?
You are not alone. Being afraid is normal. Managing your fear is possible to achieve things that initially might seem impossible.
Watch Rocio in this film, entered for the BMC Women in Adventure Film Competition 2016:
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