CLIMB CULTURE ARTIST
Get to know passionate climber and artist Gisele Nour.
WHY DO YOU CLIMB?
I fell into climbing suddenly and unexpectedly, but in hindsight it feels inevitable that I did find my way to it. I always tell people that climbing is the holy trinity of mental, physical, and social benefits. I found climbing when I really needed a distraction, something to focus on, and it’s since become a potent source of stability and joy in my daily life.
Everything about climbing draws me in. The sense of accomplishment. The sense of strength and capability that floods my body every time I have a great climbing day. The feeling of control and power from pushing my body to and beyond its limits. Climbing hard and feeling challenged - even the pain in my fingers and toes is addictive.
Going home sweaty and seeing the dirt wash off in the shower, going to bed with tired limbs. Finding a chalk mark on my forehead. Inspecting my fingers and yawping in joy at the newly-formed callouses. Flexing my forearm, laughing in shock, then showing everyone who will listen.
Knowing that if I’m experiencing any form of mental malaise, climbing will almost always make me feel better. The support and enthusiasm from the climbing community (those yells of “go up!”, “you can do it!” and genuinely helpful tips from the ground make me feel so powerful). The state of hyperfocus I find myself swimming in mid-climb. Feeling grounded and calm (mindfulness!) when I’m on a wall outside and the wind and trees and leaves are heaving around me. Feeling like I’ve stumbled upon some secret of the universe and have unlocked an invisible gateway to a more adventurous life.
Also, goddamn, it’s fun.
3 PROUDEST CLIMBING ACHIEVEMENTS
My first outdoor climb - the multi-pitch ‘Whale of Time’ in Scarborough. It was the most incredible experience. I learned so much in a single afternoon and was surprised by how unwavering my mind and body was. Hugging the rock at various points, desperately holding on, tearing up my skin (that I’d previously thought was actually fairly tough), I really felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
My first lead climb, also outdoors, at Descent Gully Wall in Nowra. I hadn’t planned on leading that day, but suddenly I found myself on the wall without a rope above me. Scary, thrilling, addictive.
Every time I level up at my local indoor climbing gym! It always feels the same - the holds are too small/slippery, until they aren’t. The sequence is too tricky, the wall too intimidating, until they aren’t. Knowing you’re progressing is incredibly encouraging.
MOST MEMORABLE CLIMB
I often think back to when I first started climbing and would go to the gym in jeans and converse and climb the auto-belays for 45 minutes because I didn’t know anyone and wanted to top-rope. I didn’t have much technique and wasn’t particularly strong, but I was completely hooked. I feel like that imagery is really telling of the way that climbing grabs a hold of you and resists letting go.
CURRENT PROJECT / GOAL
Recently I’ve been making an effort to focus on my footwork, develop a habit of
hangboarding after climbing sessions to strengthen my fingers, and in general just level up at the gym (I go through phases and I’ve been impatiently eyeing up the harder climbs for a while now). But my reigning goal is more outdoor climbing! It’s challenging in a different way to what I’m used to and really exciting. Humans have also become the only almost exclusively indoor creatures so I want to challenge that and place myself in nature as much
as I can.
BEST ADVICE TO NEW CLIMBERS
Probably the most valuable piece of knowledge I’ve garnered since I started climbing is that you are almost always stronger and more capable than you think you are. Of course, it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself when you’re tired (preventing injuries is just as important as challenging yourself).
But the number of times I’ve thought a route was beyond my reach, tried anyway, and ended up holding on longer, reaching that last grip, or manoeuvring a harder sequence has taught me to question the suspicion and utter lies your mind tries to instil in you that a climb is too hard or that you can’t do it.
Challenge yourself! That feeling of surprise makes you feel golden.