The American climber Paul Robinson planned a long climbing trip to Switzerland. But the corona pandemic thwarted him. We spoke to him about his time in Switzerland, his decision to return to the US, the overgrading of boulders in Ticino and his role as ambassador for Prana.
The interview was conducted by Remo Schläpfer
You visited Ticino in 2019. This year you were back already and planned a six weeks long trip. What brought you back to Switzerland and why for such a long time?
There truly is unlimited amount of stone in Ticino. It seems like no matter how many times you visit, there is always new rock to be climbed on or to discover. There were a lot of climbs that I wanted to get on this year so six weeks seemed like a great amount of time.
Did you train specifically for this long trip to Switzerland?
Yes. I did lots of weighted hangs, weighted pullups and moonboarding.
What was the goal of your trip? As many problems as possible? One big project in mind, doing first ascents, or doing as many boulder problems as possible?
One of my big goals was to climb REM. I managed to send that one quite quickly and then set my goals on other lines. Unfortunately, Poison the Well was wet much of the time I was there but I got to check out some of the other cool newer lines. Unfortunately, I got my trip cut in half so I will have to return for all of those lines next year.
From one day to another, you decided to go back to the United States due to the spread of the Corona virus. How did you perceive the situation/mood in the last few days in Ticino?
A friend of ours in the states sent us a news article that said it could be any day that they would close the borders completely. We definitely did not want to come home but knew it was the smartest thing to do so that we would not get stuck indefinitely.
What has your everyday life been like since you returned?
Well, I am just making sure to do my part. I am staying at home and only ordering groceries while I am in quarantine. I plan to build a climbing wall in my back yard this week so that I can train and get stronger when we are allowed to go climb on the rocks again.
In an interview from last year you told us that you live vegan. Why did you choose to skip animal products from you diet?
Yes, I a still vegan. For me it is really important for a few reasons. The biggest reason is for the planet. The animal industry is the largest contributor to global warming. Another reason is because of animal cruelty and the final reason is because of my own health. From the research I have done, eating vegan is the healthiest way to live and provides me with all I need to climb at my full potential.
In your position as a professional climber you influence many people. Do you use your communication platforms to spread your opinions and ethics on topics like veganism, climate change or so?
On occasion I do. It is a very tough place to be sometimes. You really need to be very well educated on these things before you make your ideas public. There are a lot of people who will fight your ideas, critique you, etc. If people want to know about me or ask me about my diet, they are more than welcome but I am not sure I am ready to start making huge claims online without the proper knowledge to fully back them up.
You can choose freely which brands you want to represent. You are an ambassador of Prana. Why this brand?
Prana is one of the most incredible brands in the outdoor industry. Being someone who is vegan and an activist for the environment, it is important that I not only talk the talk but walk the walk. Prana clothing is primarily organic and extremely sustainable. This is super important to me. I don’t want a contract with a company like adidas who is just destroying our planet and using sweat shops to produce their products. Prana really stands for what I believe in!
Prana was founded by Beaver and Pam Theodosakis in Carlsbad, California. The two sewed the first items of clothing for climbing and yoga in their garage from eco materials, hung labels from recycled paper and sent the finished products in old fruit boxes. Prana has grown into a global brand since then, but has never forgotten these core values.
What’s your favorite Prana product?
I love the crew t-shirts and the furrow pants!
Back to bouldering. Two boulders you did where first ascents from the local climber Giuliano Cameroni. You downgraded them a lot. Are you too strong at the moment?
I think that there is a lot of over-grading occurring these days for social media fame. I want to make sure that there is a standard in the world for grading. Climbing becomes a complete joke if you can just call a climb 8c+ with nothing to back it up. Standardization is the only way to really legitimize our sport. I hope that my actions will be seen by others that repeat lines in the future to not just take the high grade and for first ascentionists to really think about the grade of the line and not how many views it will get on YouTube if they call it XNUMXc+.
I guess you have some unfinished business in Switzerland due to the sudden stop of your trip. When will you come back to Ticino?
I really hope to come back next inter as long as all this craziness is out of the way with corona virus. I have so much I need to do and I can’t wait to get back!
Is there one boulder in your mind, that you absolutely want to climb one day? (Switzerland or worldwide). Which one?
There are way too many lines to even list them! I really want to keep pushing myself. I think I found a really good way to train before trips and I feel like I a ready to really push myself on the hardest boulders in the world. I can’t wait for this virus to be over and to get back at it!
You launched a video series called “Race to 1'000”. Your goal is to climb 1 boulders with a difficulty of 000a (or harder). You are currently at number 8. Which boulder do you save for the last ascent?
Man, it would be a dream come true if Hypnotized Minds was number 1. Now that is a real 000c+!
Video about Paul Robinson and Lizzy Ellison's trip to Switzerland
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Credits: Cover picture Paul Robinson