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The Happiest Climber at the Crag: Rannveig Aamodt

FrictionLabs Pro Athlete Rannveig Aamodt came back from a life-threatening fall to the best shape of her life.

FrictionLabs Pro Athlete Rannveig Aamodt is a force of nature. We've been huge fans of hers for years, so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with her and learn about her habits, routines, and what keep her going strong (note: good espresso is one of them). Enjoy!

What drew you to climbing, and what keeps you hooked?

My older brother drew me to climbing, and my stubbornness kept me going until I got hooked. I was not one of those wonder kids who are born rock stars; I actually sucked when I started. But I loved being outside in the mountains, and I loved the challenges and the adventures. For some sick reason I get really inspired when things feel hard for me. And climbing never seems to get easy, so I keep trying hard!

How often do you climb?

4-6 days a week, depending on the season. When I’m home in Colorado, usually from the middle of May to the end of September, I do 75% of my training and bouldering at the gym. This is my training season where I follow a training program and focus more on the training aspect than performing. It feels good to get out of the readpointing mode for a while. When October comes, I start my outdoor season. I either travel to several climbing destinations or go somewhere and stay over winter.   

We’re a little jealous that you get to wake up every day and go climb. What’s your first thought when you wake up?

"I can't wait to have coffee" is usually my first thought! Then I spend 15 minutes on the yoga mat.

Do you have a go-to yoga sequence that readers could try?

I like to switch it up. But I use the website YogaGlo to get inspired.

In April 2012, you took a 50-foot groundfall while climbing in Turkey that shattered your back, pelvis, arm, and both ankles. Needless to say, you’ve been through a lot over the last four years. What’s an average day like for you nowadays? Are you still in recovery?

Every day is a new little adventure. But, there are constants in my life as well. Most days begin with yoga and good espresso. When I'm home in Colorado, I'll usually have a short morning hangboard session, I'll spend some time working on my photography business or working for my sponsors, and I'll wrap things up in the evening with another training session. In the climbing season, October to May, I'll still start my days with yoga and espresso, but I'll end them at sunset on a favorite cliff. I love the fact that I can work from anywhere in the world most of the year.

The continuous pain from the arthritis in my ankles is tiring. Sometimes climbing and hiking take more than they give, and I have to find ways to handle it. I have to remind myself to be grateful. I try to find a balance in doing a lot but not always too much. I find ways to compromise, like going biking instead of running and letting people carry more than me on long approaches. It still feels like the pain ever so slowly is burning off over time if I'm careful. I try to keep my mind and body healthy by training, eating good food and going to therapy on a regular basis.

What does a typical healthy meal for you look like?

Lots of vegetables with some protein source like fish or chicken or eggs!

Do you have a go-to hangboard or training routine that readers could try?

I periodise my training and I have several hangboard and training routines that I switch between depending on what I’m focusing on. I’m a big fan of customised workouts, and to avoid getting injured, my advice to all readers is to find programs that are suitable for the level they are at, and always have in mind what they actually want to get better at.   

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You recently climbed the notoriously sketchy North Face of the Eiger. Nice work! Can you describe that experience?

Ha, I can't remember looking up at a wall that intimidating and feeling that small. As my friend says, "this is not fast food climbing." And he is right, it feels very "real" up there. Even if the grades often look within your limit in the guidebook, you have to be prepared for an adventure, tricky surprises, and to fight.

What’s the next big goal you’re working toward?

I really just want to feel that I'm working on fulfilling my own potential and get as good as I can get. But my biggest goal is that no one is going to have more fun being out climbing than me—and I'm world-class at that!

How has your definition of success changed since you started climbing? Since your accident?

When I started climbing, success was to get to the top of whatever I was climbing on, in whatever style necessary. Which actually is a super fun approach! After climbing for a while, I've learned that there are "rules" you have to follow to claim a send. What never changed is the feeling I get when I'm trying my hardest. I've realized that tapping into the state where I give my absolute best is actually something I have to practice to improve in rock climbing. After a climbing session, I base my satisfaction and feeling of success on the small improvements, and on my own effort, not if I'm sending or not. What I've learned from the accident is to care more about my own definition of success and less about what I think other people might expect of me.

What advice would you give to readers trying to tap into that state where you give it your all?

Find inspiring climbing partners and trigger each other. Watch climbing movies and climb with people who are better that you. Practice!  

What’s going through your head as you’re pushing yourself through a super tough move? Do you have a mantra?

"Try hard and don't yell take." * I'm trying to leave most of my thoughts on the ground and not think too much while pushing through moves. I'm more focused on the sensation in my body. How I set myself up before a climb depends on the nature of the route. Usually I climb best when I'm happy and relaxed. I always smile while leaving the ground, because it puts me in the right headspace. Depending on if the challenge is fighting the pump or if the route is technical and cruxy will determine the pressure level I try to create on the ground. Sometimes I use music or visualization to get me in the right mood. If I'm scared of falling while doing a specific move, I tell myself, "No worries, you're just bouldering. If you fall you don't even need to worry about hitting the ground."

What are your favorite songs/artists to listen to to get you psyched?

My “sending song” is Sail - AWOLNATION. I love listening to Swollen Members, Pearl Jam, Jedi Mind Tricks, Die Antwoord, Blackmill, M.I.A, Eminem, or something like that.

* "Take" = A warning you yell to your belayer when you're about to fall, signaling them to lock off the rope so it catches you.
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You met your husband, a photographer, on a climbing trip in France. Do you two ever climb together?

Yes, we climb together pretty much all the time! It's good to climb with a lot of different people to get inspired and who push you in different ways, but Nathan is my favorite climbing partner.

We actually hear you do some photography yourself. What kind of work do you do, and do you think climbing has influenced your photography style?

I'm a wedding photographer. Being a climber often helps me to get creative angles that I wouldn't have been able to get to if it wasn't for my climbing skills. I like to shoot from all angles, and brides often see me way up in a tree, balancing on fences or on top of furniture. 

Being a climber has trained me to become a problem solver, not to panic when things don’t go as planned, and to handle high speed when I need to stay on top of things. 

These are definitely good skills to have as a photographer. Also as a climber you get used to being close to people and around unfiltered emotions. There’s a lot of that going on in weddings. Helping a bride with her dress when she has to go to the restroom is not that different than having someone pee next to you in the portaledge.

What’s your favorite FrictionLabs product?

The Gorilla Grip is definitely the best chalk on the market and my favorite product from FrictionLabs.

What’s your pre-climb ritual like these days compared to before your injury?

I don't know if it has changed that much. Or, rather, I'm back to "normal" I guess. When I started lead climbing again, I would always have people climb the route before me, so I knew what I was setting myself up for. I would avoid any route with potential of painful falls and stuff like that. I'm still OK with top roping routes and miss the OS attempt if I can avoid the thought of broken ankles. Now, I'm more careful about warming up properly, and I'm better at listening to my body.  

How do you like to warm up?

I do 15 minutes of yoga every morning to wake up. And before climbing I warm up on 2-4 easier routes or boulder problems until I feel warm.

What’s your go-to snack to fuel up during a long climb/workout?

Depending on what kind of climbing I'm doing of course, but I usually snack on Figbars from Nature's Bakery, leftover oatmeal from breakfast, avocados, tuna, cheese or something like that!

How does your diet change depending on what type of climbing you’re doing?

If I’m climbing a big wall, I’ll bring “fun food”—any snacks that are light and calorie dense but still taste good. Anything that makes me want to eat. If sport climbing or bouldering, I’ll bring more real food like fruits and vegetables, tuna, avocado, cheese, or nuts.   

You speak to different groups about how to find motivation in trying situations. Why do you do this?

I do it because people have requested it and because I have firsthand experience with trying to find motivation when life feels darkest. I'm not trying to push a message, I just want to share my experience so that people who can relate get inspired and feel less alone in their own process.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate

Where can readers learn more about you?

Athlete Website: rannveigaamodt.com

Facebook: rannveig.aamodt 

Instagram: @rannveigaamodt

Photography websiteaamodtstudio.com

Twitter: @rannveigaamodt

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