An environmentally conscious approach to climbing across the world.
Slow down your pace - Immerse yourself in a destination - Travel Consciously. Slow Travel is about taking a new approach to travel.
Welcome To Slow Travel
We realize as climbers traveling is a big part of our lifestyle new crags, new routes, global tick-lists this is all part of who we are. It is a big part of Wild Country too and we believe it is important for people to travel to experience different cultures, different ways of living, and learn humanities first-hand. Traveling enriches lives, breaks down boundaries, and creates diversity and tolerance.
We know travel has an impact on the environment though and we want to make a change in how we travel. We want to provide resources for other climbers to approach travel differently and open up the conversation for all of us to Travel Slow.
Where It All Started
When our friends and athletes James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini from Once Upon A Climb came to us with an idea to do an eco-friendly, alternative travel trip the conversation quickly spun from climbing into countless conversations on Slow Travel.
With James and Caroline’s experience as professional climbers, they have been able to travel the world, experiencing climbing on nearly every continent. This has allowed them the opportunity to see first-hand some of the major shifts taking place environmentally. These insights compounded by Caroline’s studies in Biology and Education led them to rethink how they travel; influencing how they plan for trips and motivating them to use Mossy Earth, a private carbon offsetting service, to help offset their travels.
But, for their next project in Ordesa, Spain they wanted to take a different route altogether. In light of James and Caroline's plan to bike over the Pyrenees mountains and climb El Ojo Critico; a 400m, 8a route we want to introduce you to Slow Travel, an ethos for Wild Country and a lifestyle for Once Upon a Climb.
The Slow Travel Ethos
Slow Down Your Pace – Immerse Yourself In A Destination – Travel Consciously
Slow Travel is an environmentally conscious way of traveling. It does not mean eliminating travel, it does not even mean fully eliminating taking planes, or automobiles. It is about being actively conscious when planning trips, finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It means balancing trips across the globe with ones closer to home, utilizing alternative transportation, and taking your eco-friendly habits with you wherever you travel.
It also means slowing down your travel and immersing yourself in a destination. Taking in the culture, taking in your surroundings, and changing your pace.
Slow Travel Tips
This is a resource that we will continue to expand for climbers and travelers around the world.
Give Yourself Plenty Of Time
The travel is part of the trip so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy. This does not mean you are required to have an infinite amount of holidays but give yourself time on either end of your destination to travel and enjoy instead of just rushing to an iconic location to climb.
Reconsider Your Route Planning
Your entire route is part of the trip. Instead of going as quickly as possible to one spot plan a route that allows you to experience different places, people, and cultures along the way. Immersing yourself in the experience of travel dissolves the idea of travel days making the entire trip feel longer.
Consider Shipping Your Heavy Hardware Ahead
Shipping heavy, bulky items like your climbing gear ahead to your final destination opens up travel options. Bikes become manageable, train and buses more relaxing, and being fluid in travel experiences easier. Although this might seem less eco-friendly your carbon consumption is based off weight, so without adding excess equipment to your shipment, you are using the same amount of fuel. The added benefit to paying shipping costs is you start by considering what is excess for your trip.
Learn The Local Ethics
Putting up a new route, concerned about chossy rock, or run out climbs? Do research or talk with locals about the customs for climbing in those areas. Stashing gear, placing bolts, or even understanding the motivation behind different routes can ensure you are climbing in alignment with the local traditions. This can also help you better understand the history of the routes, reasons behind climbs, and give you inspiration for specific climbs
Hire Guides Locally
If you are traveling to a foreign country hire your guides locally. Not only does this open you up to more opportunities of an inside view of the climbing, mountains, and community but you will be helping the community economically where you are visiting.
Supporting the local climbing community is always important but we emphasize this most in areas that are in the early stages of development. Always look to hire a certified guides though.
Bring Your Own Water Bottles
If you are on a flight have the attendants fill this instead of giving you a fresh cup every time.
If you are in a location where the tap water is safe to drink, fill up and hydrate.
We are supposed to consume about 3 liters of water per day so this adds up fast.
Bring A Reusable Cloth Bag
For such a tiny item we are always impressed how often these get used: food runs, gear shop stop, need a shoulder bag to walk through town. We continue to find new uses as we travel.
You use them at home, don't forget to toss one in for travel to eliminate the need for plastic bags.
Pack A Bar Of Bio-Soap
Bodies, Clothes, Dishes. They all get dirty along the way. A bar of biodegradable or camping soap is great to clean everything. We recommend a bar as it won't leave you with plastic waste like liquids and gels.
As an added bonus to saving weight share toiletries like toothpaste.
Bring A Small Chamois Towel
You have your soap now you need to get dry. These towels absorb a lot of water, dry fast, and pack small. We continue to find more and more used for them too and then can easily wash them along the way.
Slow Travel Resources
This is a tool that we will continue to expand for climbers and travelers around the world.
Mossy Earth - Carbon Offset Your Travels
At Mossy Earth we believe that every attempt should be made to reduce one's carbon footprint before offsetting is an option and that offsetting cannot be used as an excuse to continue polluting. If we can say, hand on heart, that we've done everything in our power to minimize our footprint, then carbon offsetting must be seen as the next logical solution to effectively negate our impact on the environment.
You can carbon offset an unavoidable flight for as little as £2.00 per hour or a road trip for £2.50 per 1000km. What’s more, our trees play a pivotal role in restoring key ecosystems and bringing the wilderness back to Europe. We plant only native tree species in protected conservation projects to ensure your trees stay wild forever! We’ll also send you a photo and GPS coordinates of your trees should you ever wish to visit them on your next climbing adventure. Visit Mossy Earth to learn more.
1 ISLAND, 2 MONKS AND UNTOUCHED GRANITE
“Why did James and I pick a small dot on the other side of the planet?”
Because Yuji told us about it. The last time Yuji proposed us a trip, we ended up in Kinabalu, the now oh so famous mountain where untouched granite will overwhelm the climber. The Real Rock tour has thrown Kinabalu into fame, but 5 years ago, when we went there, no climber could even put it on the climbing
Kinkasan is a small island not far from Fukushima, on the north east side of Japan. It has 26km circumference and is inhabited by two monks. From Tokyo it is a six hour journey. Yuji didn’t say that much more: Kinkasan’s coast is covered with granite cliffs, and there is a Shinto shrine on it. Yuji mentioned as well the damages made by the tsunami…
We began our journey with next to no expectations about the climbing, and a big question mark for the rest. 3 days in the trip and I know exactly why we came: for Japan.
2 years ago we spent a week in this unique country and both James and I knew that we had to come back one day: how could I compare it? Well, the first time you taste wine, you have heard a lot about it. But you smell, and you only smell the alcohol, you taste and you can’t put words on it because wine is subtle, complicated and requests an education. You have to go back to it, learn to enjoy, differentiate and remember. Japan is maybe a little bit like wine.
There is this astonishing mix of modernity (the Japanese toilets and their multi jets, music and self cleaning options give you an idea of the immensity of your difference) and spirituality, respect, focus.
We arrived at Base Camp, the gym that Yuji opened 5 years ago in Tokyo, and I oscillate between marvel and shame. I am a pro climber, and most of the boulders are too hard for me, the Japanese climbers around me seem to evolve so effortlessly, like flying cats on the wall. But then you realise: the world championship have just finished in Paris and in the bouldering competition, 3 of the 6 medals are not only Japanese, but from Tokyo, from Base Camp. Yuji and his company helps the athletes become professional and they often climb together. Shall I repeat that? Half of the world’s medals come from one gym! Surely there is no wonder that Yuji owns that gym… But that is only just the very top of the iceberg, because behind this 3 medals, there are a lot of other athletes with an incredible level. I have never seen so many good, extremely good boulderers in one place. And I am a former competition climber, trust me, I know what I am talking about.
“Why are they so good?”
The answer is surely complicated but here are a few elements: climbing has become very trendy in Japan, with over a 100 gyms in Tokyo. The Japanese body type is perfect for climbing; light, powerful and explosive muscles. The Japanese constant pursuit of perfection pushes the athletes to train hard, just like everyone around them simply accomplished every task with perfection.
It was dry for the crossing, and after unpacking our bags at the shrine we bouldered on a nearby beach for 1 hour before the rain came. With so much rock to see and so little time, we hiked out anyway along the coast to search out potential lines. The rain became heavier, we became wetter, and after 4 soggy hours we returned to the shrine, hopes high but spirits low. We’d been preparing this trip since September 2015, putting the team together, finding funding from sponsors, organizing the local logistics, yet it would all be in vain if the weather didn’t brighten up.
A morning of rain gave us the excuse to sit down and record some interviews, though truthfully we had little to say as we’d done little climbing. Toru, ever the silent optimist finally dragged me out to the closest boulder spot during a break between two showers, and we were surprisingly able to climb! Toru lived up to his reputation of boldness and brilliance, making the first ascents of two of Kinkasan’s boldest and hardest problems. Finally things were looking up. The forecast was good for the following days, and group psyche could not have been higher. We began to plan our upcoming adventure and our first trip to the other side of the island – the area with the highest concentration of rock, and the biggest cliffs, but had to cut them short as bad news broke.
With my thirst for climbing temporarily quenched, we left the island in limbo, happy, yet sad, but knowing we’d be back in less than 24 hours. We passed the day visiting some of the worst tsunami affected towns in an effort to better understand what hardships the local people had to live through, and how they are moving forwards towards the future. It is one thing to watch the news from the comfort of your lounge back home, it is another thing entirely to see it first hand, and speak to the people who have lost everything - houses, possessions, loved ones!
Suddenly our troubles with the rain seemed embarrassingly small, and we remembered why we were actually here in the first place.
Our personal climbing desires must come second to the larger goal of showing this place to the world. Rain or shine, we have to get out there. Hike around, document the potential, and if in the end we are lucky, open up some new routes.