Leo Houlding's mentor....Sir Chris Bonington?by Mick Ryan Jan/2007
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If you have a passion and talent for climbing, life can be difficult. Making that balance between getting out and making a living is a conundrum that most of us face, unless you are that good that you can actually make a living from climbing.
But how do you make a living from climbing? Gear manufacturer or distributor, climbing website personage, climbing shop owner, mountain guide or instructor, climbing wall floor walker? Many climbing jobs are just the same as regular jobs and with the demise of the welfare and enterprise allowance cheque in the UK chances are slim to non-existent that you'll be dossing in the Stony Middleton woodshed and living the climbing lifestyle 24/7 (that climbers' home from home, the Stony Middleton woodshed, doesn't exist anymore).
Wouldn't it be great to get paid to climb? It's a dream many have but the reality is non-existent. All the so-called professional climbers aren't just climbers, they are writers, photographers, lecturers (motivational) and ambassadors for gear companies. One person who fits this mold is UKClimbing.com regular Sir Chris Bonington (website), 72, of Caldbeck, Cumbria, perhaps one of the most successful climbers in the world.
Sir Chris is now passing the torch to the younger generation. It came as no surprise recently when one of the younger generation of talented climbers, Leo Holding (website), 26, of the Peak District, at the recent Kendal Mountain Festivals said that Sir Chris was his mentor.
One of the biggest challenges for a professional climber is keeping it real, authenticity is important, selling out to the 'man' is not, as you can see from this dialogue between Leo and Sir Chris here in today's Independent newspaper (here)