Alex Megos climbing ()Alex Megos climbing () © Copyright

Get a grip

Alex Megos has taken the climbing world by storm, achieving more in a few short years than most could hope to do in a lifetime. And at 23, he’s only just getting started…

“Every day I just go at it 120 per cent” That is the first thing Alex Megos says, before we’ve even had the chance to sit down and start the recorder. This boy means business…

How did you first become involved in climbing?

“I started when I was five or six years old with my father. He did a climbing course at Uni and fell in love with it, so he started to take me on trips with him, and that’s how I got into it.”

Alex Megos climbing ()

 

And how long before you knew you wanted to make a career of it?

“I always liked climbing, but I also did other sports like athletics and swimming. I did competitions, but I didn’t really enjoy them much, so when I was about 12, I basically decided to stop everything else and just focus on my climbing.”

Were your parents supportive?

“Oh, my parents were really supportive. Of course it’s not easy for parents if your son says, ‘Well, I’m going to become a pro climber’. You can imagine your mum is like, ‘What about studying? What about a real job?’ But they support me, they see it’s the thing I love to do.”

What’s your proudest achievement so far?

“The climb I’m most proud of isn’t necessarily the one that’s the most impressive. I’m most proud of climbing [a boulder problem called] Action Direct, because it’s such a great historical route.”

Alex Megos climbing ()

 

You do mostly sport climbing and bouldering. Are you not tempted by the heroics of big wall climbing? Those are the guys who make the headlines…

“I always say I can still go big-wall free-climbing when I’m old. As long as you’re young, you gotta climb as hard as possible, don’t do all that big wall shizzle.”

So as a sport climber, you need to be a lot fitter?

“Of course. Alpine climbing for example takes a lot of suffering – you’ve got to walk to the bloody mountain, you’ve got to carry heavy backpacks and then you’ve got 1000m of climbing to do – but it’s very rare that a multi-pitch climb, or an alpine climb has got that high level of difficulty that a boulder problem or a sport climb has.”

What’s your day-to-day Schedule like?

“I try not to get up too late because everybody thinks that climbers are lazy and aren’t actually doing anything, so I try to prove them wrong. I start my day around 8 o’clock. I always do some training before breakfast; strength training, finger boarding, yoga, running  – that sort of stuff – then I spend half the day in the gym, mostly bouldering.”

Alex Megos olympic rings portrait ()

 

So climbing is more a sport and profession for you, rather than a lifestyle?

“I see it as a lifestyle. Of course it is a sport as well, and I like that professional aspect of it – the aspect that pushes you to climb as hard as possible and test out your limits. But I definitely see climbing as a lifestyle thing as well, yeah.”

Are there any downsides to that lifestyle?

“Of course, there are always downsides to every lifestyle. One is that nobody really sees what you are doing, or sees that you are working every day. They just think that you’re going climbing and having fun – basically not having a real job. But that’s not how it is. They don’t see all the training; the days when you’re just not psyched at all, but you still go to the gym, and still do your training because you want to achieve something. People don’t really respect that – they can’t, because they don’t know how it feels.”

How do you find all the travelling, the talks, the interviews – everything that comes with being a pro sportsman these days? It’s OK, you can be honest…

“I enjoy that aspect, but I’m trying to keep it as minimal as possible. Just because I want to focus on climbing hard and I feel that the more interviews I do, the more slideshows, the less I can focus on the actual climbing. The priority in my head is always just to climb as hard as possible.”

Alex Megos climbing ()

 

Do you ever think about what you’re going to do after climbing?

“I do. I won’t be a professional athlete for the rest of my life, of course, so I do have back up plans. I’d like to study; maybe something to do with sports management or sports marketing. But I’ll just have to see what happens; see how long I can do the professional climbing for and then, when I don’t feel like it anymore, I’ll find a different solution.”

What advice would you give to someone trying to make a career out of their passion?

“The main thing is you really have to love what you’re doing. As long as you’re passionate and you’re motivated, things will start to come together for you. It’s about competing against yourself. I’d like to see where I can push the limits in my sport climbing, so my goal all the time is to get stronger, to always be better than I was yesterday.”

Alex Megos was speaking as part of Kendal Mountain Festival. Visit www.mountainfest.co.uk

Photos: Frank Kretschmann/Red Bull Content Pool

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