Name: Craig Matheson
Outdoor sport has been a defining aspect of my life since I was 8 years old and I’ve always enjoyed being outside - regardless of the inclement British weather! This drive to experience the natural world and pitch myself against its physical challenges is for me what life is all about.
I started climbing regularly at the age of 16 and although I’m now a little older and wiser, I’m still as keen and motivated as ever. Hopefully this enthusiasm for exercise and climbing will continue for a long time yet. If, like my dad I’m still managing E7’s in my 70’s then I’ll be pretty happy with that.
Get to know Craig
Tell us about your successes so far?
It would be fair to say that my greatest ‘success’ was actually leading my first route, as this paved the way for everything else to follow. I didn’t know how to belay when I got to the top of that first route, but it was my first taste of climbing success. Although important to me, this first lead at the humble grade of ‘severe’ isn’t really what most people want to hear about. Success these days tends to be measured in numbers, so here’s a selection:
Hard Cheese (E10 7a). 1st ascent. F8c climbing
Welcome to the Cruel World (E9 7a). 2nd ascent. F8b+ climbing
If 6 was 9 (E9 6c). 3rd ascent. F8b climbing
Hasty Sin Oot Ert Hoonds (E9 6c). 3rd ascent. F8a+ climbing
What are you working on? What are your goals for the future?
My big project at the moment is simply trying to find the time to climb consistently.
Having a family and working full time places a host of powerful restrictions on your climbing! In the future it would be nice to climb f9a and boulder 8B.
Why do you climb? What do you love about climbing?
I think the enjoyment comes from the mix of being outdoors/the natural environment as well as the physical challenges that climbing brings – problem solving, strength, mind control. There is a lot going on when you start to break climbing down into its component parts. And then there is the whole social side of sharing fantastic experiences with others.
Which Scarpa shoe is your favourite?
When I first started climbing there wasn’t a huge selection in climbing shoes. The choice really boiled down to whether you wanted an edging or smearing shoe. These days there is so much more choice, with real technical knowledge applied by the shoe designers in providing performance advantages in certain situations. As a result, my favourite Scarpa shoe is the one that works for me on the particular challenge I’m facing at the time.
1. If I’m doing loads of routes indoors, I think the Veloce is great - because it feels so comfortable and I can wear it all day. It helps me achieve the days objective - climbing loads of routes!
2. If I need to get a lot of weight on small, sharp edges, then I’d got the Vapour Lace. It just feels really solid, and places less strain on your fingers as there’s more weight going through your toes.
3. If I’m doing steep circuits, then the Chimera is my go-to. The angle of the toe box means that you get more toe area on the hold.
4. If I need real sensitive precision then I’d go for the Instinct VSR.
5. General outdoor climbing, I like the Mago, it just feels like a well-balanced shoe.
The list could go on, so it would be daft to try and choose a favourite (in my opinion).
Tell us about your best day climbing?
In recent years the best climbing days have consistently been reserved for Scafell’s East Buttress. These are exhausting ‘full days’ on the best mountain crag in the Lakes, requiring early starts and late finishes. A summers day on Scafell is absolute bliss and you look forward to the next time you can go.
These long mountain days stand in contrast to the intense seconds experienced on routes like Mr Cuddles, If 6 was 9, or Hard Cheese. You don’t really remember the climbing day, but those few seconds of total commitment leave emotional scars deeper than anything else. I don’t really look forward to these moments, as every one carries a risk, but I’m hugely proud to have experienced these in my life.
What do you do away from your sport?
Keep the roof over the family and try to be the best dad I can.
Good question. Lakes mountain trad has historically been the limit of my adventures, but I’d certainly be interested in a trip to Ships Prow, Baffin Island.
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