Depot Climbing

Erin McNeice joins Depot Climbing

May 30, 2024 10:03 am

Depot Climbing

Olympic Climbing hopeful Erin McNeice joins Depot Climbing

We’re over the moon to announce one of the UK’s most promising competitive climbers and Olympic hopeful, Erin McNeice has joined the Depot Climbing athlete team.

A journey that started in a manner familiar to many climbers, Erin’s Mum and Dad took her to a climbing wall at age 5, and she quickly became engaged in the joy of movement climbing brings, joining a Kids Club to add some structure to indoor climbing that sparked a passion that has taken Erin on the path to attempting Olympic qualification.

Erin’s journey has already taken her around the world, even before competitive climbing became the focus, having spent several years residing in Kuala Lumpur; climbing was a constant from that first introduction.  

Erin was in China this year competing for GB Climbing at the first two World Cups of the year, she had her 20th birthday out there and celebrated in style by getting through to the finals in both Boulder and Lead, finishing 5th in both disciplines.

Since then a 3rd placed finish at the first Olympic Qualifying Series in Shanghai has Erin strongly placed for a performance at the second OQS in Budapest to take her all the way to Paris!

We caught up with Erin to find out more about what drives her, and how the future might look for one of UK climbing’s rising stars.

Erin McNeice sits smiling at the camera in a headshot photo Depot Climbing

Starting with an easy one, tea or coffee?  

I love tea but I have to go with coffee.  When I feel really fatigued during winter training, I honestly think some of my sessions have been saved by coffee.

Dual-tex or full-tex?

Dual tex is a cool challenge in comp climbing but I would go for full tex, because you have friction the holds can be really bad so you sort of get to try harder.

Lead or Boulder?

I am pretty equal in terms of ability and I do love competing in both.  I think boulder would take the win, but not by much, and probably because you get to do more climbing on boulders at comps (4 boulders instead of one lead route). 

I got to compete on both lead and boulder in China last week and was so excited for both disciplines, I also wildly enjoyed both!

We’ve heard a little about how your climbing journey began, but were you all-in, 100% addicted from the first climb, or did it take a little longer for the obsession to take over?   

I definitely would not say I was addicted after the first climb I seem to remember being a little scared!  However, it did grow on me very quickly.  Whenever there is a wall reset or I see a cool problem I get so excited and I have been that way for a long time.

What is it you love the most about climbing?  

My favourite thing about climbing is the whole atmosphere of the sport.  The nature of climbing and the community has really shaped me as a person.  I think about who I might be without climbing and I really don’t know. 

A lot of people describe me as unassuming and shy, which I am, but climbing has given me a sense of purpose and confidence, so I am super grateful to the sport and community for helping me realise the cool things I can do.

You’ve mentioned in the past that early in your climbing journey, you were motivated by some sibling rivalry, what is it that motivates you now?

Still 100% sibling rivalry… I’m joking!  Like I said, climbing just makes me happy so I want to be as good at is as I can.  I am passionate about competing and I have results in mind that I’d love to achieve, but fundamentally I just want to go and perform at my best. 

I am confident that if I do that I can make World Cup finals (now ticked), World Cup podiums and hopefully my other goals.

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You’ve won most of the big domestic competitions, including Depot Climbing’s Battle of Britain.  How are you feeling about the upcoming British Bouldering Championships?

The BBC’s are in summer that is such a packed time for climbers competing internationally.  Due to those international commitments, I have only ever competed at one BBC event in 2021 and I did not make finals.  It would be cool to go back and try to win it!

International competition has taken you around the world, are there any stand-out competitions from the IFSC circuit that are particularly memorable?

It is pretty fresh in my memory as it only happened last week but the Keqiao Boulder and Wujiang Lead World Cups were amazing.  I have put in so much work during this off-season, not just the physical aspects but also the mindset. 

Making my first Boulder World Cup finals was absolutely incredible and making my first Lead World Cup finals a few days later was insane!  

I had such a fun time and I had so many completely new experiences during the trip.

Have you made any friends from the other country’s competitors that you’ve found to be particularly beneficial for your climbing?

The majority of climbers from other countries competing at World Cups have more experience than me so their insights and processes are normally more refined than mine. 

Different athletes and countries also have different mindsets, it is really interesting what works for different people.  I’ve learnt so much from lots of different climbers.

How do you keep your mind occupied when waiting in competition isolation areas?

You can sometimes be in isolation for absolutely ages, so it is definitely important to stay entertained.  The GB coaches are really great at being entertaining (at least to me!) so it is never really boring. 

I’ve learnt that it is important not to take it too seriously, so we usually end up doing something that lightens the mood.

Do your family follow you around the world to cheer you on?

My family are incredibly supportive and they have come to lots of competitions to cheer me on.  My Mum is really motivating during the winter months and my Dad is really involved with my training, so I am hoping they can come and watch me at the second Olympic Qualifier event in Budapest in June.  I think they will also come to some of the World Cups this year!

What would qualifying for the Olympics mean to you?

It would be a dream come true.

When did your training for Olympic qualification begin? Have you had to make a lot of sacrifices to accommodate it?

My training for Olympic Qualification started in earnest around September time, that is when it was confirmed that I was in OQS.  I knew I would have to work harder than I did last year because I did not make the progress I wanted to last year and we had identified a number of areas for improvement.

I had a lot of catching up to do if I wanted to put myself in a good position for qualifying.  My training schedule was 6-9 hours of really hard training with one rest day a week. It was brutal and at points it felt like winter would never end but the improvements were evident in the first World Cups of the year. 

Now I am ready for another hard month of training before the first OS event back in China.

We think you’ve got one of the coolest handles on Instagram, how did you come up with it?

Unfortunately, I cannot take any credit for it.  Liam Briddon (GB Coach) came up with it a couple of years ago and he is incredibly proud of it!  I used it for a joke and it sort of stuck!  I have been given many nicknames though, I was McBeef for a bit and recently McKnees, not really sure why on that one but there you go.

Have you taken your climbing outdoors yet? Or has indoor provided plenty of challenge so far?

I have been outside a few times and enjoy it, especially magical places like Font, but indoors is my primary focus at the moment.

What is it that you like about training at Depot Climbing centres?

The facilities (gym and kit) are excellent, the routes are reset regularly and the setting has something for everyone.  I really like the atmosphere as well, in the gym and on the wall.  Great coffee as well!

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in their climbing journey?

Enjoy it – Don’t chase the grade and climb in your own way and you own beta.

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This post was written by depotadmin