We hosted a special Global Climbing Day event in a partnership with The North Face at Sender One LAX on Saturday, 8/21/21. It was a day to celebrate climbing and the community it brings together, although this is something we like to acknowledge every day! We were fortunate to have The North Face athletes, Margo Hayes and Maureen Beck, join us for the afternoon. They climbed with members and guests, enthusiastically providing tips and advice when asked. In addition, we held an open Q&A where Margo and Mo shared stories and experiences.
Thank you to both of them for being with us for Global Climbing Day. It was truly a great day for us and the community.
A bit serendipitous, but it turns out that Maureen Beck (aka Mo) will be competing in the 2021 IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup so we wanted to share a little more about her. Check out her answers from the Q&A below.
Q: What age were you when you started your sport?
A: I was 12 years old when I had my first climbing experience, but this was in the mid-90s in the Middle-of-nowhere, Maine. There were no climbing gyms for me to go to so it was kind of hard for me to get into the sport in a sustainable way until I went to college.
Q: What is the best part about climbing?
A: My favorite thing about climbing is, well, there are two things. So the rock doesn't care who you are or the routes don't care who you are. If you're able or disabled, if you're male or female, short or tall. It is the rock. It doesn't care about you. And as harsh as that sounds, it's actually kind of refreshing because we live in a world of caring for the wrong reasons. And then my other favorite part is for all of those groups I just listed climbing is about every time you go climbing,even a little bit, you're making the impossible possible. Whether it's a route that’s easy for you, you're still learning, you're still growing. And if you're projecting something, you're taking something that the first time you touched it, you could never do. You could never dream of doing it and you just chip away at it and before you know it you are Superman because you've done the impossible.
Q: What music do you listen to when you work out or climb?
A: I have a playlist on my Spotify called “Amped Up” and it's actually super embarrassing. I don’t want to admit what’s on there. Orange Theory has these playlists that get you going during workouts and it works, like when I’m on the treadmill. I actually don’t listen to music when I climb. I can lose my feet, but for other types of training, that music is pumping pretty good in my head.
Q: Do you get emotional when you’re projecting or training?
A: I think I do get very emotional for competitions because that's like a date on the calendar. You train for and then like right then and there, you know, you did it or you didn't. And I'm either super happy or I'm just like “well shoot”. It’s either one or the other. Outdoor projects are interesting because at least for me you spend so much time “almost” there. Like you “almost” send. So that when you do finally do it is almost anti-climatic, like “Why didn’t I do that three months ago”, but then there is always something else to do. So as soon as I clip the chains, I think, “I'm done and onward”. It's this weird detachment almost, which is in itself an emotion.
Q: What do you do to calm your butterflies while you compete? Do you have a plan to help you get to your best-focused state?
A: I wish I had an answer for that because I’ve puked more in iso than I have not puked in iso. It’s tough. There are not many high-end para-climbing competitions. So I don't get a ton of chances to do it and do it and do it and get super used to it or get comfortable. Every single one of them is a gift. I'll be honest, whenever I’m in iso, especially at a World Cup or the World's level, I'm nauseous. I'm like “why am I doing this? This isn't that much fun. Ugh!” But when it's over, the whole experience is so rewarding and I think if I didn't have butterflies, if I wasn't nervous, I mean that wouldn't be important to me anymore because be like, “oh, who cares whatever”. So I think being nervous and feeling sick, just means that I actually care. So now the day I don't get nervous as probably what I should just quit.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you can give to future climbers?
A: I would say if you're a new climber getting into it, don't wait to push yourself. Don't wait for someone to come along and invite you out or invite you to try something new. I feel like my climbing career is a decade behind where it could be because I spent so much time being shy and thinking, “I haven't earned that, or I'm not as knowledgeable so I don't deserve to be in the space XYZ”. And it's a really hard thing to advocate for yourself. Whether it's like, “Hey, I see you're going outside. Do you mind if I tag along or can you show me how to use the hangboard? Can you show me this?” The climbing culture is getting a lot better, but it was formed in this like gatekeeping, where you have to be an expert in order to be a climber. And that's just so not true. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and get a little uncomfortable. I wish I had. And now that I'm in my mid-thirties, I feel like I'm finally in that space where I’m like, “Okay, I don’t care what people think of me”. I'm going to go. I'm going to learn. I'm going to admit when I don't know. I wish I had that mindset forever ago because I just feel like in such a different place, but it's never too late to change and to start really getting uncomfortable in the best of ways.
Q: What did it feel like to see Climbing in the Olympics?
A: There are some people that think that the Olympics have ruined other sports and will ruin climbing. I don’t see it that way. I definitely see competitive climbing and crusty, dirty outdoor climbing as two different sports. I freaking love gym climbing and I freaking love outside climbing. But the other thing about growth in the sport is that the more people who care about the sport and the more people who get outside and experience the power of nature each one of those people will then care about preserving access and preserving our environment. So I just don't believe that more people involved in our sport is a bad thing. I think the more people that care, only good can come from that.
We hope you've enjoyed learning a little bit more about Maureen Beck and look forward to seeing her compete at the Paraclimbing World Cup in October. Let's go, Mo!
Learn more about Paraclimbing and this significant event on our Guide to the Paraclimbing World Cup blog.