Derek Tatum is a student at the University of Colorado – Boulder and is an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. He is studying abroad with ISA in Granada, Spain.
An Interview with Austrian Climber Uli Prader – Granada, Spain
The majority of the photos presented here are a collection documenting a crag located West of Granada in the Andalucía Provincia
—– Where are you from? —–
“I was born in Austria on the first of January in 1987, I live in Innsbruck and study sports science and I work as a climbing teacher and trainer.”
—– What brought you to Spain? —–
“I wanted to study abroad, I knew I wanted to do that some time ago, so I was looking at my possibilities and Granada was by far the best option because it has awesome climbing and it has the Spanish lifestyle, which was something I wanted to experience. Also, I wanted to discover something different from my hometown in Innsbruck. And I think I found it here. The mentality is different and that was what I was looking for on my time abroad, to get to know people with a different mindset.”
“The mentality from Spain to Innsbruck is different?”
“And what’s the mentality in Innsbruck like?”
“In Innsbruck everyone is really straightforward, people do enjoy their lives but everyone (I am generalizing here of course) is really focused on something, it’s either climbing, the job or university and if that thing that they’re focused on doesn’t go according to plan it kind of has a negative effect on people’s mood and on people’s perceived quality of life because progression is so important in Innsbruck. Everyone wants to get stronger, fitter, better all the time. The progression is really important in the climbing scene. That was kind of stressing me out a little, so I wanted to get away from that and experience something else and get to know a different lifestyle and a different approach to climbing.
“Yeah I feel with the way it is here, there’s more community you know? Everyone stays up late and is having dinner together, talking, and then at the crag everyone is hanging, joking around and things like this. There’s a serious nature to it as well, but it’s really laid back.”
“Yeah it’s really kind of different from the climbing scene in Innsbruck, there we meet quite early, we climb the whole day..”
“Ha yeah, here we wake up at 11am and get started whenever, it’s no big deal.”
“Right, in Innsbruck we climb the whole day and then after climbing, most of the time, we split up and everyone goes their way. And it’s mostly about the climbing itself and the routes you send. People want to go to their projects even if there’s a nice group of people going to a different crag. And here, it’s way different. People just meet sometime in the late morning and everyone goes together to the crag and climbs some routes and has a good time and then afterwards it’s always beers and tapas. I actually don’t quite know what I prefer, maybe a mix between the two.
“Yeah of course.”
It was definitely nice to see something else and experience a different approach.
—– “What’s your philosophy when it comes to climbing? —–
My climbing philosophy, that actually changed a lot over the years and I think it’s still changing all the time. I had a time when climbing was the most important thing in my life and I was super focused on training and climbing as hard as I could. My main focus was on sending routes and climbing as much as possible, but through a couple of injuries, I actually had quite a lot of them, and other experiences I realized that I had to change my approach to climbing. Before that, when I got injured, I would get really frustrated and I was in a bad mood all the time and then I figured that this wasn’t a healthy way of living. Now my attitude in general is that if I get to climb it’s awesome, if I get to climb hard it’s even better, but if I don’t get to climb, my life is still beautiful, and I still enjoy it. So, I think I was taking climbing hard for granted and if I didn’t get to do it, it would take away from the quality of my life, but now I try to not take it for granted so if I can do it, it adds to my life.
—– “What’s your best climbing experience?” —–
There are two experiences that got stuck in my head and that I like to think back to, one of which was my first 8a. I projected it for six days and on the last day we drove up there in the morning, as always, and I tried it four times during the day. I almost sent it, but I fell off at the very last move. It was June, so the weather was getting hot, the holiday season approached, and it was half past eight in the evening. I thought that was it, and I was accepting the fact that I wouldn’t be sending it that season. But my draws were still on the route, so I thought I’d just take them down and not even attempt to send the route. I tied in and started climbing without thinking about sending it, in fact I wasn’t even really trying. I was moving really fast and really fluent. Then my girlfriend at the time who belayed me said, “hey, hey take it slow, we’re not in a hurry”. But I kept climbing fast, I just wanted to keep moving because it felt so nice.
I stuck the last move and clipped the anchor. I was not expecting that to happen, I sent it just when I gave up trying and when I accepted the fact that I would not be sending it and there was no pressure. Also, my girlfriend at the time and I were new together, so it was cool that she was there as well.
“Awesome, and the other one?”
The other one was when I was in South Africa I went there with a couple of friends. They all had to head home after six weeks but I wanted to stay longer so I booked my trip for nine weeks, which meant that I would spend the last couple of weeks alone in South Africa. That was the first time I was traveling alone. At the time I was in Waterval Boven, which is one of the most beautiful sport climbing crags there. I stayed at the climbers lodge in Boven where I met a so manynice people, particularly a girl from Switzerland and a guy from Germany who were together at the time. They were just such nice people and from the first time we bumped into each other we got along super well. They would always invite me to climb with them, but it was not only about the climbing. What was way more important was the fact that they made me feel welcome. It was then when I realized that climbing is not about sending hard routes, it’s about the other people you share your experiences with. That was the best experience of my whole trip, and maybe one of the more important lessons of my life.
“Yeah I feel like almost anywhere you go, the climbing community there will always take you in and make you feel welcome.”
Right, just before I came to Spain I did a Road trip through Europe, also alone. I spent two weeks in Céüse, France for climbing and it was the same, the people there took me in and I never felt alone, not for a second.
Climbers, as always: Pack it in, pack it out.
“It would be well perhaps if we were to spend more of our days and nights without any obstruction between us and the celestial bodies.”
-Henry David Thoreau
By Derek Tatum
Special thanks to Uli Prader; it has been a joy to share the passion of climbing with you these past months.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.
A very interesting article