Born to Climb

From rock climbing pioneers to Olympic athletes

Author: Zofia Reych

Hardback publication date: 16 Jun 2022

Hardback ISBN: 9781839811524

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‘A compelling read. Zofia’s fearless approach to climbing history sees them take on the status quo, effortlessly shining a light on under-represented topics and bringing climbing right up to the current day.’ – Sasha DiGiulian

In Born to Climb, Zofia Reych examines the cultural history of rock and competition climbing, looking at some of the sport's pivotal moments and outstanding individuals, from early forays on rock to the Tokyo Olympics. The book also explores the culture of sporting participation and the author's own climbing journey. A must-read for all climbers. 

Climbing is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports – exciting, addictive and, arguably, much more fun than going to the gym. In 2021 it made its long-awaited Olympic debut, but its journey to Tokyo has been anything but traditional. And the traditionalists would argue that it’s not even a sport at all …

In Born to Climb, anthropologist and climber Zofia Reych shares with us the fascinating cultural history of rock and competition climbing. Zofia offers a fresh perspective on some of the pivotal moments and outstanding individuals of the sport, from eighteenth-century exploratory forays on rock, via the rise of climbing legends such as Emilio Comici, Wolfgang Güllich and Lynn Hill, to the limelight of the Olympic arena for the stars of today – Janja Garnbret, Adam Ondra, Shauna Coxsey and more.

But Born to Climb is much more than a celebration of the sport’s famous people and places: it is an examination of modern sporting participation and culture, interwoven with the author’s own climbing journey. While the writing is engaging and often funny, Zofia is not afraid to broach sensitive and often overlooked topics, including gender divide, capitalism and the tension between aesthetic and athletic approaches to climbing, in what is a must-read for all climbers.

Zofia Reych is a climber and anthropologist who has been working in the outdoor industry since 2015. This has taken them to Sheffield, Chamonix, Bulgaria and Fontainebleau and their work has included online marketing, ghostwriting and journalism, with articles published in national and specialist press in the UK, Poland and Germany. They also worked for EpicTV Climbing in Chamonix. Zofia is currently based in the French bouldering mecca of Fontainebleau, and is the founder and director of the Women’s Bouldering Festival, the biggest event of its kind in Europe. They are an accomplished boulderer (up to V10/7c+) and a keen proponent of sustainable climbing practices.

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