Interview with Eliška Vlčková

In AIXblog

Eliška Vlčková, nickname Bětka, is a young, quiet and modest lady, but while touching rock she becomes a warrior. One of the few women who is not afraid of leading on the sandstone and does not hesitate to take a huge fall once a while. Actually, climbing outside is new to her (she has climbed mostly on artificial wall) but she shows her incredible talent. On the rock she has done so far Xb and the 8a+/b La Montana Mágicaon. We are sure she will continue on her “rock ride”. Eliška is also a regular participant of Czech Bouldering Cup. In 2016 she won.

How long have you been climbing and how did you started?

I have been climbing since eight.  I was with my parents in the rope center and I was very excited about it, so they enrolled me in the climbing course. I did gymnastics for about a year in the same building so I just moved to one floor higher.

Mostly you have been climbing on artificial walls and climbing on the rocks is quite new to you. Have rocks changed your climbing attitude?

I think so. On the rocks it is like to climb a big puzzle, you have to find a right solution – the right placement of feet and hands… You must think more about climbing and it completely absorbs you. I have definitely learned how to find a right climbing position. I am more capable of finding a right beta now. It is always a nice feeling.

I do not know what I will be doing in 10 years’ time but I know one thing for sure I will be climbing. It gives a meaning to my life which I am very tightly connected to.

Even though I do not manage to climb my projects I always know that I can come back. It is not true for climbing on artificial walls.

Do you take climbing as a lifestyle or as a sport?
I do not know. It would be nice just to climb and to live truly climbing life. On the other hand, I think you should work a little. Then you appreciate more doing what you love. The best would be to have an interesting job and a hobby which brings you some other joy.

You belong to a few girls who do not hesitate to lead on the sandstone. This is quite rare. Do you prefer to be given a recommendation or you rather chose yourself?

I definitely prefer to be recommended routes. I don’t have a guidebook of Elbe Valley. It would be quite dangerous because I do not have enough experience. On sandstone I have been climbing so far only in Elbe Valley. The routes are mostly well protected. My wish is to visit other sandstone areas where I will have to get used to it first.

And do you have in your mind the fragility of the material, the risk of a longer fall or the risk of a ground fall?

I am more careful when I climb on the tiny fragile holds.  I try to hold them where they seem to be strongly attached.  And I am afraid of a ground fall only under the first protection. Then I try to focus only on climbing. I usually say myself “I am already protected so it will not hit the ground” which is not always true :)

Climbing on sandstone is not about the achieving the maximum of physcial abilities due its physic chanllenges. Do you mind? What does the sandstone climbing give you?

No, I do not mind. It is important to climb and not only the hard routes. Very often I need to stretch my abilities even on easier routes. They are interesting, technical demanding and I learn something else. I enjoy being outside in the nature and then it is hard not to enjoy myself. Also I think on sandstone one must concentrate on every single route, on the foot holds, on the runouts between the protection. I enjoy how I get absorbed.

Do you climb on the limestone as well?

Yes, I do and I used to climb only on limestone. Limestone requires more power and makes me feel tired faster. The hard routes are so nice  and sometimes I must fight myself so much. Also it shows you where your weakness lies and it motives you for training.

What kind of routes do motivate you?

I have difficulties with an endurance routes with a sequence of hard moves. I prefer: boulder, rest, boulder… and this type of routes I climb faster. But on the other hand the endurance routes motivate me more.  They push my performance forward.

And what would you prefer: the weekend with Andrej in the crag or spend some time in an isolation zone at comps?
That is a great question. Definitely weekend with Andrej in a crag. I think it would be more beneficial for my climbing, mostly for my mental skill.  But I appreciate to compete. But isolation is not the funniest part.

Do you have dream routes or how would you like to improve your climbing?

I wish for many routes but I am not sure if I will ever climb them. I also wish for visiting many climbing areas. Ceuse is one of them. I enjoy discovering of the new crags and trying new routes. I enjoy having a project but I must climb some other routes meanwhile. Multi-pitch climbing appeals to me as well in the future.

You are a very successful bouldering competitor but why don’t you boulder outside as well?

I do not like bouldering outside. Either I climb a boulder straightaway or I do not do move at all. I have never tried the boulder being on my limits. But I enjoy Fontainebleau. I can see how I gradually improve.

Do you have any systematic training?

Yes, I try. But not always it works how I want. Andrej Chrastina from AIX helps me he has got patience to explain me the basic principles. Big thanks to him.

What type of training has proven to be most effective?

I think gym circles help me. Andrej’s advice again

What are your comps ambitions?

I do not really know at this moment… I enjoy boulders at the comps. They are a bit different from those in the regular climbing walls. Also the timing on comps force you to climb little differently and more effectively. I enjoy being solid in the moves. When it does not feel right I am not happy. My ambition is to find it right. I do not see a sense concentrate on the comp result since I cannot influence how the others climb.

Do you have a stable climbing partner?

The last season I had a great partner – Anička Šulcova. We climbed and trained together. It was a great time and lots of fun. Now she has been studying in USA so we support each other from a distance. She will spend her summer back at home so I hope we will climb together again.

Do you study and do you think of a professional career as a climber?

This year I am finishing my secondary education then I plan to go the university. Hmmm, I guess the career of a professional climber has already run away.  Because what younger kids can climb now is unbelievable. Of course, I wish to reach their results in the future.  But it will take me a little longer time if even possible … But it does not matter anyway I cannot imagine making a living from climbing. I think it works only for some people. I am afraid I would have more stress than joy which would be a pity.

How do you choose sponsors?
Well I do not know.  I am always surprised when someone has got an interest to support me and I truly appreciate it.

The cooperation works if people have got the same interests and attitude. I am the lucky one.

The people from Ocún are very nice and I enjoyed spending the time with them in Fontainebleau.

I know guys from AIX personally or from narratives. The ones I know are very nice and they are all the authorities for me. I like their approach to climbing. They climb pretty hard so it is a great honor to be in such a team.

What kind of mindset should have a right climber?

I think the most important is empathy. When one has got the ability to empathize with others it can be much supportive while being e.g. scared. And in general an empathic person does not hurt others since can imagine how it feels.

By Simona Ulmonová
With English version helped Petra Renthová

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