Name: Eliot Stephens
Hometown: Port Talbot, South Wales
I started climbing in 2010 at the age of 18, in my home of South Wales. I spent a year doing long mountain routes, lots of scrambling and hillwalking before eventually getting into trad, sport and finally bouldering in mid 2011. Bouldering has consumed me. I’m not quite sure why. I think it’s the physical elements combined with the problem solving and the psychology of it. That said, a huge motivating factor for me is the buzz I get from seeing the progression through training.
I’ve been able to travel across Europe to France, Switzerland, and Spain, and I am constantly seeing more and more world class bits of rock which just motivates me to push myself and improve further. I’ve climbed up to font 8C, but I feel I am able to go much further than this. My goals in climbing are to climb 8C+/V16, and to continue to progress and learn as much about climbing as I can, while also imparting some of this knowledge to others and the future generation. I would also like to visit some of the most famous climbing areas outside of Europe, including America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Some of my proudest moments in climbing aren’t attached to particular climbs or projects I’ve completed. I am most proud of my ability to deal with injuries and setbacks and focus completely on becoming better as a result. When you push your body like climbers do, you have to be prepared and fully able to deal with obstacles, mentally and physically.
Get to know Eliot
Tell us about your successes so far?
I’ve had lots of successes in climbing, although most have occurred behind closed doors on a board or training wall. However, climbing 8C/V15 was a big success for me, as it was always in my mind as a goal since I started climbing. Also doing the first ascent of an 8C was a pretty big one for me, especially as it was Wales’ first of that grade.
What are you working on? What are your goals for the future?
Currently I’m training for international trips a bit. I’ve mostly exhausted local climbing, so having those big goals abroad or further afield in the UK are what’s motivating me to keep going.
Why do you climb? What do you love about climbing?
I think my reasons for climbing vary depending on when I’m asked. Most of the time it’s the personal challenge; trying to improve myself and facing challenges I previously couldn’t conquer, and proving to myself that with hard work they’re possible. It’s also the travelling and the chance to see new places with friends and have those little adventures that stick with you for years to come. In actual climbing itself, I’m drawn to great movement, aesthetic lines and difficult challenges that will force me to improve.
Which Scarpa shoe is your favourite?
As an allrounder the Instinct VSR is pretty hard to beat. But I confess the Furia Air is something I always come back to for the sensitivity and ability to claw into footholds. It’s a bit of a secret weapon. When it works, it does the job like nothing else on the market.
Tell us about your best day climbing?
This has now become a pretty cut and dried question for me. It has to be climbing Big Paw 8B+/C in 2019. It was the first really great day of weather over 2 weeks into a trip to Switzerland. I started the day by finishing off a single move 8A+ called Deliverance which I had tried many previously. I then rested during the early afternoon while my friend Ant climbed.
We then went over to a 20 odd move problem I’d tried before called Second Life. I was able to climb this pretty much first go from the ground after refreshing on the moves. We were then joined by Giani Clement, and went over to Boogalagga/Big Paw with a couple of lamps in the failing evening light. I could instantly tell the conditions were perfect, and I was able to repeat Boogalagga 8B in a few goes. I then climbed the sit moves (Big Paw) a couple of times. I just pulled on from the start and climbed all the way through into Boogalagga, and topped out.
To say I was shocked was an understatement. After a 3 year obsession with the boulder, I had done it first go from the floor, first session of the trip. For the rest of the evening I felt like I was in a dream, and I rode the psyche a little further to climb Dreamtime Stand 8A+ at around 11pm at night. Without a doubt my most special climbing day over.
What do you do away from your sport?
I do a mix of things. I enjoy little bits of video making. I’m also interested in food, music, and partial to a little whisky.
Where is your #NoPlacetooFar?
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Photo Credit - Jacob Martin