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Our clothing is designed to be worn by real people who will put it through its paces in a host of outdoor environments, from the British countryside to the peaks of some of the world’s highest mountains. We wanted models who would reflect our users so that you could see the clothing as it was meant to be worn. We selected our models from an application group who were nearly all climbers, hill walkers and outdoor enthusiasts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this process turned up some interesting characters.

Rebecca was someone who perfectly encapsulated many of our customers. Her life is built around the outdoors and climbing in particular. Her and partner Ben own a house in Matlock to be closer to the Peak District and their holidays away have taken them climbing all over the world. We dropped into their Matlock home away from home to find out how the pair have geared their life towards their passion.

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Q. What made you apply for the modelling job at Rab?

Curiosity! I’m generally interested in the outdoor industry and I wanted to see how these things work behind the scenes at the casting, not thinking it would lead to this!

Q. What does an average week look like for you?

I work in the business side of a school in Oxford, and my role covers fundraising and running events and communications for the school’s alumni. Sadly I don’t get teacher holidays! It’s kind of a 9-5 ish office job but there are lots of events, fundraisers, parties in London, concerts, sports matches and various other things to organise, so a typical week can be 40/45 hours. Most term time weeks there will be an event either in Oxford or London. The school is a really exciting place to be and there is a lot going on all the time! I also run the Climbing Team and an army platoon in the Cadet Force.

Most days, Ben and I tend to meet at the wall after work, do a session and head home and cook. We don’t have a TV so listen to a lot of radio podcasts, play scrabble and watch films.

Q. How would you describe your work life balance?

I think I probably push myself quite hard to fit life in outside work. With an event-heavy job, it can often eat into weekends so we have to be pretty strategic to use the remaining day well; if I’m working on a Saturday, we make sure we get in a daytrip to somewhere like Portland or the Wye Valley on the Sunday. We also play very hard on our annual leave days, and spend a long time looking forward to the next trip!

Q. How often do you get away climbing?

Depending on the weather we probably climb outside two or three weekends in four and train at the wall in Oxford in the week. We tend to try and come to Matlock most weekends and during some holidays. Our first Christmas up here was awesome as we headed over to Stanage to do Christmas Crack on Christmas Day, and felt welcomed by a huge friendly outdoor community.

We climb or do climbing-related training four, maybe five times a week. I broke my ankle in January and had a few months out injured, so that hyped up the training side because I couldn’t do anything else. To keep me sane Ben installed pull-up bars and gym rings in our place in Oxford and even built a massive frame to hold my fingerboard. It takes up our entire dining room! *LAUGHS*. I was also really lucky that Tom Randall was kind enough to set me a one-legged climbing programme to keep me focussed when I was broken. So having come back from being out for 4 months I don’t think I’ve lost any ground, which is quite nice!

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Q. How did you and Ben meet?

We met at a party and talked about climbing and Star Wars. He didn’t want to climb with me at first as he didn’t want to climb with a novice. Then his belay partner left Oxford and he got desperate! I soon showed him that I didn’t intend to stay novice for long, and now I think if you were to ask him, he would say that I drag him up things!

Q. What are you aiming to do when you go away? Climb hard? Have an adventure? Have fun?

Erm.. I think adventure is probably the most important one to us. When we’re in rainy Oxford in the winter, we’re always thinking about previous adventures and planning future ones. It doesn’t have to be glamourous and overseas – this summer we had a great hour stuck on a belay ledge behind a slow group at Bosigran, but it still felt like an adventure with the sea crashing below and seals and dolphins further out. We even had a mini-adventure one New Year hiking into Burbage through thigh-deep snow, found one climbable problem, had a cup of tea, and then went home.  We see climbing in the winter when it’s cold and horrible as preparation for our next adventure. At the moment we are concentrating on multi-pitch to make sure we are fit for Morocco later this year.

However, all this being said, I am probably am the type of person that if it wasn’t fun but I could still achieve something I would still do it…I want to climb as hard as I can! So it has to be a mix.

Q. Is climbing the biggest aspect of your life? What else is important to you?

It sounds sappy, but Ben’s the most important thing in my life. Climbing is definitely a big part of that though, because he is my climbing partner – it’s nice that we can go on adventures together, and it takes us to some amazing places. I think climbing is really important for me because it mixes physical discipline with the mental aspect of problem solving. I’m somebody who’s always found it pretty hard to switch off, so climbing works really well because it tires me out physically and also stops my brain from going over something else in the background. I guess it helps me sleep better at night!

Q. Where is the best place you’ve visited to climb?

Erm... Jordan wasn’t the best climbing but it was the best adventure. We stayed in a Bedouin camp hidden away in a canyon among some rocks. There were camel spiders all over the place! We also did a day in Petra and rode horses and Ben pretended he was Indiana Jones *LAUGHS*. Wadi Rum is pretty amazing in terms of the sandstone formations – you’re just looking up at these things and thinking: how the hell was that made? Every day we’d just get dropped somewhere vaguely near where we thought we were going, and then at the end of the day the Bedouin would need to use their tracking skills to pick us up. It was quite funny because there were so many times when we got lost on a route and would be careering down the hillside with the light fading shouting ‘wait for us’ because otherwise we’d be left in the desert. *LAUGHS*.  Of the places we’ve visited, Morocco was probably the best for climbing because it’s really solid rock with good routes in such an adventurous setting. But something that I’m beginning to learn is that there is just so much amazing stuff in the UK. Having a base here in Matlock, we do end up in the Peak most weekends but if the weather isn’t good here then we can bomb it down to the South coast – the sea cliff climbing in Britain is amazing!

Q. What does your travel set up look like? Are you camping? Vanning? Hostelling?

We tend to camp or stay with people we know. We bought our car because we worked out that we could sleep in the back of it. *LAUGH* That was the test. They were trying to sell us performance and alloy wheels and we upset them by not being interested in that. ‘What’s the fuel efficiency?’ and ‘Can I lie down to sleep in it?’ Those were the important questions. Oh, and it had to fit the boulder mat! One day I’m sure we’ll have a campervan and install a wood burner. Apparently if you buy one of the old AA vans they have a plumbed-in sink!

Q. With a base up in Matlock, what do you normally do when you’re up here? (Apart from climbing) Any local tips?

Chatsworth Farm Shop! It’s awesome! The deli counter has loads of vegetarian stuff which is great for me as a veggie – and I get really excited about fresh vegetables *LAUGH*. If I’m in France in a hypermarket I can be there for hours. Ben once went for a job in Norway as a fresh vegetable seller but he couldn’t communicate enough of a passion for fruit and vegetables so he didn’t get it, but they could not have doubted my enthusiasm.

Wirksworth Leisure Centre has a surprisingly good little climbing wall, which is great for a rainy winter day. Wirksworth also has reputedly the best French restaurant in the county…

There’s an awesome bookshop in Cromford called Scarthin Books. It’s all jammed in higgledy-piggledy but it feels like a treasure trove. They have a doorway where children can get the ‘Utterly Unfair Tall Dad’s Book Prize’ if their father’s head touches the top of it without jumping or tip toes.

Climbing tips… erm... there’s a lot of limestone around this area that day trippers coming up for the grit don’t tend to notice. We have some amazing stuff like High Tor and Wild Cat literally just over the road and I’d really recommend Dovedale or Beeston Tor for more adventurous feeling climbs followed by a wild swim. For grit we really like Gardom’s.

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Q. What are your climbing highlights?

Oooh.. Morocco last October; we did a route called the Marrakesh Express, three pitches, E1, all completely different. So it’s an hour walk in from where you park in a village and then meander up through all of the terraced bits of fields until you get to the bottom of the crag. You are there in the middle of nowhere and you’re looking down at this little village. The first pitch is a really techy face climb, the second is a horrific off-width which I made Ben do because my hands weren’t big enough and then the third pitch is weird and wonderful. Between the second and third pitches is a commodious belay ledge. Ben finished the third pitch and started to bring me up and then it just started to rain from nowhere. I slimed my way up and then as I topped out the sun switched back on, and we sat there looking down the valley at a rainbow and one of those biblical pillar thunder clouds moving down the valley. An amazing experience!

Q. What does the future hold? Goals, plans, expectations?

This is really good timing actually because our theme for the Women’s Climbing Symposium this year is goal setting. I set some readjusted goals at the beginning of the year when I broke my ankle, but I seem to have exceeded all of those so I’m slightly off plan because I’m better than I thought I would be at this point. Note to self, set some goals!

I’m really interested in routes on sea stacks and pointy rock formations at the moment, so we’ll definitely be spending some time on Ilam Rock soon! We’ve got a huge Morocco tick list for October, and want to do some 6-10 pitch climbs. Then the next big one is Colorado in February for some ski-touring, ski-mountaineering and ice climbing. Ben is pretty experienced on the winter side of things, but I’ve not done any yet. I had previously written it off as I’m not very good at functioning in the cold, but I’ve just finished proofreading the new Rockfax Chamonix guide and am feeling pretty inspired by that. Plus, now I’ve got some really good down products the cold won’t put me off!

Q. How did you get involved with the Women’s Climbing Symposium?

I’m certain that if you enjoy something, believe in what it is doing, and have benefited from it, then the best thing you can do is give something back. Women’s Climbing Symposium is one of those things. I was lucky that the event was growing at the time that I got into climbing. I attended the second symposium in Liverpool as a complete newbie and gained so much inspiration from listening to top speakers, getting technical coaching and meeting other women who were equally hooked on climbing.

After attending a few times, I volunteered my skills in sponsorship, events and communications, and now I help in my spare time. I’m currently developing content for the website and we’re having lots of fun sharing our exciting plans for this year’s event.

Rebecca & Ben in action

Ben trying not to look lost, Wadi Rum.
Impromptu bouldering, Wadi Rum.
Sneaking in a climb before the tide comes in. Photo credit: Susanna Stanford.
Sacre Coeur, North Devon. Photo credit: Susanna Stanford.
Walking in to Bosigran.
Abbing down, Wildcat.
Wildcat woods.
Ben preparing to ab back down to Matlock.
Bosigran belay selfie.
Bouldering at Clodgy Point.
Morning training session, Harborough Rocks.
Proper New Year grit conditions at Froggatt.

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