British ring-in and now Halls Gap-local, Charlotte Garden, will be competing at this year's Grampians Bouldering Festival, as well as running some clinics on Sunday. Keeping a relatively low profile based out of Halls Gap, Charlotte is a super-successful British comp climber, and we are delighted that those who signed up for the women's clinics will be able to tap into her deep climbing and competing experience.
For Australian climbers who may not be familiar with you, can you give us the Charlotte Garden climbing bio 101?
I've been climbing for 15 years. I was on the British climbing team for six years, gaining comp results like four times Junior British Champion, second in the British Boulder Championships and twice I came eighth in the European Youth Lead Championships. When I started travelling in 2015 I transitioned to mainly climbing outdoors and now I live in Halls Gap in the Grampians! (Rockclimber's paradise). I'm still dabbling in comps and managed to rank first in Australia for bouldering last year.
How do you find yourself in Australia?
I was on a 'round the world' trip visiting South Africa, China, Laos and Thailand, then arrived in Australia and I loved the Gramps too much to leave.
Tell us about the first time you went bouldering in the Grampians.
My first day climbing in the Gramps was late March 2016 with a friend Zoe at Andersons. We went round a few classics but I was mainly getting used to the new rock and appreciating my stunning surroundings.
You are running some of our women’s clinics, what will these involve?
The clinics I'll be running will hopefully get women thinking about climbing. It's obviously a physical sport but I want to encourage people to climb smarter. How to plan out your session, projecting, techniques, resting, what to work on specific to yourself.
Why do you think it’s important to encourage women to get outdoors?
I think it's important to get outdoors because that's where climbing really started; out on the rocks.
Rock climbing can improve your technique. Because holds aren't obvious bright colours and specifically set out to climb like indoors you have to get creative and put more effort into looking for holds and figuring out how you're going to climb the rock.
But there's much more than that... it can open up a totally new playground.
Going out by myself can feel like my own personal adventure. I can have peaceful pottering session when I enjoy the fresh air and appreciate nature or I can have psyched and focused sessions when I project and challenge myself.
You’ve spent a fair bit of time in the Grampians now, what are your top five boulders (and why)?
The Departed V10 (Valley of the Giants) Classic power-endurance problem. All the moves are consistently difficult and fantastic quality moves on fantastic quality rock with perfectly sloping holds.
Riding Shotgun V6 (Andersens) Fontainebleau-style boulder. It can be tricky to unlock the secret and subtle body position but once you found the key it can feel easy and awesome.
In the Cloud V11/12 (Project Wall area) Although I haven't ticked this one it's still up there in my favourites. There's no trickery or escaping the basic bearing down and powering through these savage crimps.
Sex Panther V9 (The Bleachers) The rock quality and climbing style at the Bleachers is brilliant. This one has some really fun big powerful moves.
Krusty V9 (Hollow Mountain Cave) Forces you to get creative and throw some spectacular shapes. Hollow Mountain Cave is so unique you have to have a favourite there.
You've had a lot of success in comps, and are competing at the GBF on the Saturday, without giving much away too much to your competitors, do you have any tips for the less experienced?
For the GBF, pick problems you can climb in few attempts, especially if like me you’re a boulderer with limited endurance. Get some safe easy ticks to get your score solid then try something harder later to try and boost your score. Try hard, get stuck in, have fun and enjoy the Grampians!