Georgia Pilkington is quite the inspiration. Climbing since the age of 7, Georgia has battled against her Autism and as she describes, mental meltdowns, to become a two time British Deaf Climbing Champion and cofounder of Deaf Climbing UK. She has also recently climbed the Matterhorn as part of the ‘Autism At Height’ challenge to raise awareness.
In this interview, we chat more closely with Georgia about how moving towards Alpine climbing has helped her with her Autism.
What first inspired you to take up rock climbing?
One rainy weekend when I was 7 my dad took me and my little brother to our local climbing wall for something to entertain us. I was immediately hooked! I absolutely loved it and haven’t stopped climbing since.
You’re helping to raise awareness of Autism and other disabilities within the outdoor industry. How does being a sponsored Ellis Brigham athlete help with spreading this awareness?
Being an Ellis Brigham sponsored athlete is fantastic as it has really raised my profile and made people more aware of my sport and and my achievements. It also gives me a platform from which to campaign for and raise awareness of inclusive climbing and autism.
Where is your favourite place to climb and why?
I love Fontainebleu in France. It is truly a magical place to be, with unlimited possibilities for climbing.
Outdoor climbing is something else, its calming and exhilarating, its inspiring and challenging. It clears my head and soothes my soul.
Spending time outdoors has been proven to help people live healthier lives both physically and mentally. How do you find the difference between indoor and outdoor climbing. Are there any particular challenges with climbing outdoors?
Indoor climbing is a great way to improve fitness and strength and meet other climbers. Local climbing walls are very sociable and convenient as it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside. Outdoor climbing is something else, its calming and exhilarating, its inspiring and challenging. It clears my head and soothes my soul. The fresh air, stunning scenery and challenging climbs make for a fantastic day out! The biggest challenges with outdoor climbing is the changeable weather and also journeying to the crag too, as they are usually quite far away! Just bring lots of snacks and good climbing company and it will be worth the journey!
Is there anyone in particular who inspires you to get outdoors and push your climbing further?
One person that inspires me is Mina Leslie-Wujastyk. She’s so powerful and is so real. The video of her climbing Godzilla in South Africa has definitely driven me to push me further in climbing.
We love your new film 100% Myself. Can you tell us a bit about why you wanted to make the film?
There are many sides to me but the biggest part of me is my autism and my passion for climbing. Being an autistic person is very difficult as generally people are not really aware of what autism is about and they tend to generalise and believe autistic stereotypes which don’t fit me. Climbing has helped me with my autism and I thought it would be an excellent way to raise awareness of my autism and promote climbing for all! Plus I really wanted to climb Old man of Stoer! It’s one of the highest rock climbs I’ve done so far.
What advice would you give to any women out there who wanted to get into an adventurous sport?
Don’t be intimidated! Anyone and everyone who already does a an adventurous sport started somewhere. They all had their first go, so why not you? You might surprise yourself!
What’s next for you? Is there a particular climb that you’re training for?
I am always trying to maintain fitness be it at my climbing wall in Exeter or at home in my climbing gym and I take every opportunity to climb outside, even if its locally on the North Devon coast or on Dartmoor. I am busy with college at the moment with final assignments so that is taking priority but there are potential plans to go to France in the summer to climb Mont Blanc and The Matterhorn in a week! But plans can change. Either way I know I will give myself an epic challenge to do.