Fish Eye 8c and ECO thoughts by Sofie Paulus

25 January 2022

Sofie Paulus reports on Insta that she has done Fish eye (8c) in Oliana. She is based in Bayreuth where she is doing a masters in Global Change Ecology. Going to Oliana took almost 30 hours by bus via Paris, including car-pooling, and only costed Euro 45 one way. Going to Frankenjura, she often cycles for 90 minutes. "I try hard to avoid flying and I use public transport or car-pooling whenever it is possible."

"Briefly about myself: my name is Sofie, I have been a nature-lover and rock climber since I was little. After school, my fascination for nature and our earth motivated me to study geology. It was great to learn about so many miracles and processes that naturally take place on our planet and explain today’s landscapes (and rocks ). After my bachelor’s degree, I felt the need to work more with the societal and environmental consequences of climate change and globalisation, so I started my masters in Global Change Ecology.

As often as I can, I spend time outside. Climbing and being in nature with other people is incredibly inspiring and healing to me. Climbing has always been that part of my life, where I feel ‘at home’ and instead of planning and setting training goals, I try to find balance and well-being whenever I climb. Nevertheless, I also like challenges and try routes that require high concentration, physical effort, and strength. Two weeks ago, I successfully climbed Fish Eye (8c) in Oliana, which is my hardest grade so far. The character of this endurance route and the atmosphere at the crag are unique and amazing. During the process, I consistently enjoyed finding the right beta and linking the sequences, exchanging, and trying the route with other climbers. It wasn't a real ECOPOINT, video, (definition later in the text), but at least I managed to travel to Catalunya by bus and carpooling.

In many faces of life, I see a need for conscious change to live in a more balanced way with nature. As climbing is an essential part of my life, I had to think about the approach to the crags where I climb. Taking the car to get there each time created an inner conflict. I started looking for alternatives. Sometimes, I took the train to places where other climbers picked me up to access the climbing area car parks. It is not always easy and takes additional time to organize the approach. Last year, I started challenging myself by cycling more frequently to reach local crags. For sure, the whole climbing experience is a bit different, the body feels more tired, but in the end, I always have a great experience. It is a privilege to live relatively close to climbing areas, but even if you live further away, it is always interesting to look for alternatives to flying or driving individually. In my opinion, an alternative view of achievement in climbing would be useful. I don’t feel like ECOPOINTING would prevent me from climbing hard and if so, it doesn’t really matter. Quite the contrary, it is awesome to feel the effort that one has already made to get to the cliffs and to ultimately arrive at the climbing routes with a lower carbon footprint. Moreover, after some bike training, the approach already feels less energy-draining.

Lena Marie Müller and I would like to invite other climbers to share their experiences and personal efforts when it comes to climbing using a more environmentally friendly approach. Climbing a route 'Ecopoint' describes the idea of using public transportation, cycling, or walking to approach the climbing area. It is often challenging and takes more time to access the climbing area by more environmentally friendly means. In my opinion, it simultaneously prolongs the experience of climbing outdoors and feels more intense and richer. Let's start adding Ecopoints to our scorecard wherever it appears possible to us. Let's try to combine the love for our sport with the motivation and the urgent need to fight climate change. It contributes to reducing our impact on the environment.

I feel that taking more time, for one thing, helps a lot and is a precious gift we give ourselves. It is not easy in our world, where so many options exist, where we can do more and more in less time. However, this rushed aspect is also questionable. Doing important things with passion and in a concentrated manner is so much more sustainable than doing many things at once. Regarding climate justice, we need to act now. But here as well, it is also important to find out what we can do as individuals and then take the time and energy we can to focus on the changes we would like to make. Environmentalism is not about denying people what they love, but about rethinking what we really want, about our approach and about exchanging ideas."

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