Climb Every Mountain − Staying Safe at the Crag
Pictured left: Professional rock climbing coach Robbie Phillips enjoying his true life passion.
Here he tells us how to stay safe and why everyone should give the sport a go.
My Climbing Obsession
Aged just 15, Robbie first started climbing when he was taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award with school.
“I was always curious about climbing and wanted to give it a go. I started getting involved with indoor climbing and it just went from there,” he says.
When he first started training for the award, Robbie would climb once a week. But very soon he was hooked and found himself on the wall practically every day.
“I was obsessed from the moment I started. From a young age I was doing it all the time and strived to be one of the UK’s best climbers.”
Robbie climbing during on a coaching trip in Siurana, Catalonia, Spain
The Sheer Support Captured Me
By the time he’d finished school, Robbie had reached his goal of becoming one of the UK’s top climbers and was also training children to climb. He was ready for his next challenge.
“I decided to take a year out of education and go travelling to climb in lots of different places in the world. I also did a bit more coaching here and there before going to university.”
He then went to study biology at university, but quickly realised it wasn’t the path for him.
“Although Science was my best subject at school, it just wasn’t my passion. I decided instead to turn my rock climbing coaching into a full-time career.”
Taking such a bold step was far from easy. Very few people in the UK had taken on the performance−level coaching Robbie wanted to get into.
“I think what really captured me was having my mentor there to support me. Rock climbing is a very sociable sport and it very much has that sense of community.”
Robbie is now a Team GB climbing coach for Scotland, supporting all Scottish team members and helping them climb to success.
“You get to work with loads of people, from young children to adults right up into their 60s. Everyone has the same passion and motivation. We all respect each other and there are no real boundaries,” he says.
Robbie remembers struggling to make friends at school because he didn’t have the same interests as others his age.
“As soon as I found climbing it was like everything just fell into place. I think in society there is often this hierarchy if you make more money than someone or come from a different background.”
“In climbing it all just merges into one. I was really attracted to that idea and I’ve learnt a lot of my life lessons through taking part in the sport.”
Pictured left: Robbie on a climbing trip on the Greek island of Kalymnos
The Power of Team Work
Despite it often being described as an extreme sport, Robbie says climbing isn’t as dangerous as people first assume.
“Most beginners start indoors, where you’re in a safe environment. You’re never pushed to do something you’re not comfortable with and you can just take steps forward at your own pace.”
He describes indoor climbing centres as the best place to gain basic rock climbing skills. Once you’ve picked up some training, you can then progress to outdoor climbing.
“If you want to go outdoor climbing, the best thing to do is to make sure you’re aware of all the safety precautions, like how to adjust your harness and check your knots. It’s also important to climb with someone who’s experienced so they can make sure you’re safe.”
Providing you take the right safety measures, Robbie says outdoor climbing isn’t that much different to indoor climbing.
“You’re in a harsher environment so you need to keep your wits about you. Make sure you’re climbing in good weather conditions. I never climb in the rain because it’s slippery and not as nice an experience.”
“If wind conditions are poor then you generally should avoid climbing as well. That said though, if you do get unpredictable bad weather you can often find places which are sheltered. ”
Many people think of climbing as an individual sport because it’s just you and the wall, but Robbie believes it’s good to climb with a group of people. That way you can stay safe and have fun.
“It’s always great to climb with a few people. As well as the safety aspect, once you’ve finished the climb, you can discuss how it went and how you can improve.”
“There is team work involved as well as individualism. It’s also much more fun to climb with friends rather than by yourself.”
Pictured left: Fellow climbers watch as Robbie tackles the wall at Bowden Doors in Northumberland.
Conquering the Climb Safely
As a top rock climber and coach, Robbie knows how important it is to stay safe and to inform others of any relevant medical condition.
“I take kids climbing outdoors quite a lot on trips. I have a fact file containing any medical details the children may have that I need to be aware of. I always have that information to hand and usually put it into my iPhone when we’re at the crag.”
“If people have those details with them as well it’s really useful. It just gives you that extra safety precaution.”
He says that keeping some form of ID with you is a good idea, especially if it details your medical background.
“If you have a condition which is going to affect any medicine that might be administered in an emergency, it’s important to make sure the people you’re with and emergency personnel are aware.”
Robbie’s main advice is to keep your wits about you.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to know about things that can go wrong and how to avoid them. You can never say mistakes won’t happen to you. It’s important to be aware of everything that could happen and never let your guard down.”
Everyone should give Climbing a go
Robbie is always keen to motivate people and encourages everyone to give climbing a go.
“People I work with really enjoy training and always seem to learn a lot from it. It’s called training, but climbing is just really fun and one of our main aims is to ensure that people have a good time.”
“I always try and get more people interested in it. The more who are climbing, the better. ”
Adventure Sports Medical ID
Nothing beats having fun in the great outdoors, but as Robbie says, it’s important to take all the appropriate safety precautions.
Each unique design can feature your name and in case of emergency number. We can also print your medical details, including any allergies or conditions you may have.
This was feature was created as part of an adventure sports campaign created by The ID Band Company. Offering a wide range of medical sports ID, we are raising awareness on how to stay safe while enjoying extreme sports and the great outdoors.
If you have any health concerns please consult your GP before taking part in rock climbing or any other adventure sport.