Factor Two - S3


Wil Treasure continues to share stories from the climbing world through interviews with both well-known and lesser-known characters. In-depth, personal accounts that aren't read from a page on a variety of themes. Settle down with a cuppa and have a listen...

Ep.9: Finding the Balance - Katherine Schirrmacher

We all get enjoyment from climbing for different reasons. For many of us those reasons change over time, according to our geography, time, money and other pressures in our lives.

Katherine Schirrmacher headpointing Balance It Is, Burbage South.
© Alex Messenger

I've read Katherine Schirrmacher's blog for years, and she's unusually good at expressing all of those little things that can affect your motivation or self belief. Like many of us, she was excited for the adventure of trad climbing in her early days, but she became an all-rounder; sport climbing, bouldering and competing as part of the British team.

Being good at climbing can be a really satisfying thing, but if you spread yourself too thin, in too many disciplines that's hard work. When you're young and free you can sustain the energy needed, but as you get older all of those other features of life - work, children, relationships - creep in and put pressures on that time you were so eager to use for climbing. You pick up injuries, or can't get out so easily when conditions are good, and when you've been so focused on your performance that it's hard to reel back.

Katherine Schirrmacher redpointing Raindogs 8a, Malham Cove.  © Alex Messenger
Katherine Schirrmacher redpointing Raindogs 8a, Malham Cove.
© Alex Messenger

So how do you find a balance?

For Katherine, it's been about understanding what really brings her happiness in climbing. It could be giving herself permission to try a route, or leave it for another day. It might be focussing on the great friendships she has in the sport. It might be the sense of being in a beautiful place, or moving well on the rock. And, of course, it could still be climbing hard, but on her own terms.

Many of us use climbing as an escape, but Katherine told me she's learned to appreciate just how central it is in her life. In doing so she's been able to find ways to match her goals to the things that will really make her happy, and she's done so by listening to how others do the same.

You can find Katherine on her website at and on Instagram @katherine.schirrmacher

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