27-02-2019 / 14:30

Caro North: fear is my life insurance

MAMMUT Pro athlete Caro North has scaled quite a few mountains in her life and opened multiple climbing routes. So this might lead you to believe that she knows no fear. However, even Caro has had to push herself at times. How does she deal with fear?

MAMMUT: Our slogan for the summer campaign is "Do what you can't. Be what you can". Is there anything you find difficult when mountaineering or climbing, or that you had to overcome at the start of your career?

Caro North: Pushing yourself and your own limits plays an important role in climbing. To complete major projects, you need to look beyond myths, legends and what others say and try it anyway. I am convinced that if you really want something, you will manage to achieve it. Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer.

"If I know that the fall terrain is good, I can contemplate greater falls at times."

When I started climbing at the age of 10, I always climbed tours up to a certain point and then froze. I couldn't go forwards or backwards. Sometimes, I spent half an hour in a hold until I was able to push myself to continue. My trainers at the time now remind me of this with a smile. But we all have to start with small steps!

In our campaign for the new Eiger Extreme collection, we see you fall. What aspects are important for you here?

You need to be aware of where you can fall and where you can't. If I know that the fall terrain is good, for example as in the video for the campaign, I can contemplate greater falls at times. It is also important to have a reliable belay partner. If someone belays poorly or too hard, I lose trust and prefer not to fall. And equally, there are situations where you simply cannot fall. In this case, I prefer to climb down than take the risk.

"If I feel fear, then this tells me that I need to concentrate completely and can't make any mistakes."

More generally: how do you overcome your fears and how do you deal with them?

To a certain extent, fear is an important aspect of climbing and mountaineering. It is my life insurance. If I feel fear, then this tells me that I need to concentrate completely and can't make any mistakes. But it isn't a crippling or blocking fear that I feel. I have only experienced this once on an expedition, when I had to cross a couloir with serac fall, i.e. falling ice from glacier peaks.

How do you deal with disappointments, for example, if it's not possible to complete a project or a tour?

I am extremely stubborn and will often return to a project several times until it works out. If it doesn't happen immediately, I say to myself that I will come back, even if this isn't always easy for a project in Patagonia or the Indian Himalayas. I also try to put things in perspective and remind myself that this tour and this mountain aren't everything in life. Of course, it's frustrating at times. But my motivation always returns quickly.

"I am extremely stubborn and will often return to a project several times until it works out."

What are the biggest challenges for you on your adventures?

In every project, there are always new and unexpected challenges, but this is precisely what makes it so exciting. These could be logistical challenges, technical climbing challenges related to the weather or even human aspects, as if a project is to succeed, the rope team needs to be right.

What are your next projects?

One big project at the moment is the mountain guide training that I would really like to finish this year. Then in June, I'm heading back to the Indian Himalayas again to tackle a project I have already attempted.

Finally, a question for climbing novices. What tips can you give when it comes to dealing with fear, for example fear of falling

That most important thing is to build up positive experiences. For example, fall training in absolutely safe terrain. Simply start here and then build up continuously. And let go of "I can't do that". People get stuck in their thoughts and are closed to anything new. This makes it extremely difficult to overcome fear.