MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL
In their own words, as a couple they ‘don’t make sense’. But together, as their worlds met, their backgrounds and approaches to risk have found a happy medium.
‘We’re like two extremes pulling on the same rope and we find balance somewhere in the middle. Caroline is much more sport-science based. She was of the mindset that her body is a machine, that if you make it do these exercises it will respond in a certain way,’ says James. ‘I was a risk-taking technical climber and I used to steer away from routes that were more just about holding on and fitness rather than technical risk taking. When I met Caro, I realised how important training can be. I was able to do all these things I’d dreamed about before because now I was fit. I realised how important the physical side is. When I met Caro, she had no idea about climbing slabs or moving dynamically, as they’re not needed in competitive climbing. We bring completely different elements to each other and I feel we’re much better as a couple than we are singularly.’
Skills and strengths aside, one of the biggest changes was in risk taking. Caroline was a self-confessed risk-averse climber. She didn’t see the point in taking risks. In fact, she thought risk taking was ‘stupid’. She’d grown up in family where dying of old age was the goal. ‘No one wanted to take any risks that threatened their lives,’ she says. But she knew she wouldn’t always be able to compete in climbing. Like all high-stress competitive sports, they aren’t forever. The body – and mind – can’t handle forever. To her surprise, her transition into trad climbing came naturally, using tools from her competitive climbing toolbox.