We are thrilled to announce that Molly Thompson-Smith has joined the Depot Climbing team.
As the UK’s shining light of lead climbing, Molly needs no introduction. The 5-time national lead champion has been going from strength to strength, not least in her outdoor bouldering career, ticking off her second 8B in the US earlier this year.
We caught up with Molly ahead of announcing our new partnership. We hope you enjoy the interview and keep an eye out for more on our social channels and in centres soon!
First of all – how’s it going? What have you been up to?
All is good with me thanks! I’ve recently spent some time in Europe competing in various competitions and training at some great facilities for lead climbing. I was thrilled to have been invited to compete in the legendary Rockmaster event in Arco last month, which was definitely a highlight of my year. I always love competing in this event as its so unique and the lead duel is genuinely the most fun format I’ve competed in!
How’s 2021 been for you so far?
As I’m sure it has been for everyone, 2021 has been full of challenges but overall a step towards some sort of normalcy. I was grateful to have the opportunity to compete in 2 boulder and 3 lead World Cups this year which were all great fun despite the struggles of getting to them. I probably spent the most time in the UK this year than I have done in the last several years which was lovely! I managed to get out into the Peak District more than ever before (even to Kilnsey twice!) andI climbed my first 8B boulder, and managed my hardest route flash on home turf. Gaining enough confidence to push myself to try harder boulders and work on my flashing game gave me a fresh source of motivation which was much needed whilst the comp season was questionable.
How was it being back on the comp circuit after a year of Covid? Anything you’re particularly looking forward to over the rest of the year?
It was really hard to get back into the flow of competing after so much time off the circuit, and whilst there were competitions this year, it was proving even harder for us Brits to even get out to them to compete with Covid variants etc putting us on banned lists. Staying motivated with the goal posts constantly moving was a struggle and I definitely found headspace and psyche out on the rocks whilst we were either watching the live streams of comps we wanted to compete at, or dealing with the constant changing of travel restrictions.
The season is almost over now which is honestly a bit of a relief! But I’m really excited to head to Moscow next week for the World Championships and my final event of the year. After that I’m planning a trip to Switzerland for some bouldering – its been 5 years since my last time there, and my last boulder trip! After spending some more time bouldering this year I’m really interested and psyched to see what some more experience and confidence can get me up there!
How are you feeling about coming aboard the good ship Depot?
I’m so thrilled to join the Depot team; I’ve been climbing at Depot walls for as long as I can remember and always feel at home whenever I walk through the front door! From national youth competitions across the country to practically living at the Pudsey wall training for the World Cup season, to casual boulder sessions with friends on a weekend, the Depot has always been a feature in my climbing life. It feels good to solidify that relationship and work together! I like to work with people I genuinely like and appreciate their values, and the Depot is just that – a great group of walls that make an effort to be an inclusive place for first time climbers, regular enthusiasts and World Cup hopefuls. It takes a special environment for all those groups to come together and share a space! The Depot are also community focused which is something that’s very important to me: from their youth squads (who’re absolutely crushing it!), to hosting events like the Women’s Climbing Symposium, I hope to get involved with all of the cool things they’re doing!
Do you have a favourite centre to train at?
That’s a tough one! But I think it’d have to be the Sheffield centre, just because it really is my home centre 🙂
What is it that drives you to climb and to train as hard as you do?
I like the idea of not knowing what’s possible for me, and trying to work towards being something better each day. I’m drawn to climbs that haven’t been repeated by women in the past, or where I/others aren’t sure it’s possible for me! This extra challenge layer makes success even more satisfying If I’m able to manage it… and it’s pretty addictive!! There are so many elements of climbing that we can challenge ourselves with (on sighting, flashing, volume days, redpointing etc) and improve which always keeps it interesting!
What’s your ultimate climbing goal?
I have climbing goals that are focused on different time frames and styles of climbing, but I guess the ultimate goal is to keep loving climbing and doing it for as long as I can! My more short term goals are to qualify for the Olympics (hopefully Paris!), win an overall WC lead medal for competitions. In terms of rock, I’d love to be a climber who is pushing the boundaries of hard female climbing, ticking routes and boulders that don’t have many female repeats! Hubble is the route I’d most love to climb as it’s just steeped in British (& global!) history… and brick-hard!
Any particular challenges you’ve faced along your climbing journey?
I ruptured 3 pulleys back in 2017 which was of course challenging physically, but also mentally as it was just off of the back of a really successful season and my motivation was higher than ever before! I needed surgery for that injury, and most of the following year was filled with rehab and sitting on the sidelines which is never really fun. But it taught me a lot about where my boundaries are physically and also forced me to reconsider the best and smartest way to train. And of course, it only reinforced how important climbing is to me!
Is there anywhere you’ve climbed where you’d really love to go back to?
I had an amazing trip to the Grampians in 2017 and I’d love to visit Australia again at some point in the future. The orange rock was just beautiful and meeting new people and appreciating their culture is always a bonus of a climbing trip.