Calum Muskett talks carving a career out of climbing

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 07/01/2016
Calum Muskett on Silbergeier in the Ratikon. Photo: Wiz Fineron

BMC Ambassador Calum Muskett talks about carving a career out of climbing, the highlights and lowlights of his year, and future plans.

The highlights of my year have actually been quite mundane but significant. My partner Gabby and I bought our first house together in North Wales with great climbing, running, biking and kayaking all within walking distance of the back door. I've also been accepted onto the Guides Scheme, which is the start of an exciting and interesting process.

Despite these great developments in my life it does feel like I've been going through my first mid-life crisis due to all these 'grown up' things. I've told Gabby to throw me out if I start looking at expensive road bikes and tight lycra!

The low points have probably been working too much and a shoulder injury from falling off while climbing in Norway last August. It's been so bad I've actually taken up river kayaking instead, much to the disappointment of many of my climbing friends!

My work is an eclectic mix of instructing, writing, speaking, travelling around climbing in great places and promoting the brands I work with. Although, the mainstay of my work is definitely climbing and hill walking instruction, coaching, and private guiding.

The teaching in itself is a big mix, which I find really refreshing; I don't get bored or frustrated. in the last year I've guided Right Wall and the Cuilin Ridge, given workshops on coaching processes, run numerous climbing and mountaineering courses for the military in Scotland and even done a bit of teaching kids on indoor walls. 

I think many outdoor professionals find it difficult to get a footing in the market. There's definitely a lengthy apprenticeship of working at lower rates for less skilled work, but is it that much of a difference from other career paths?

I'm not sure whether coaching is the best career for a keen climber though. It certainly gives you flexibility if you're selective with your work but doesn't give you the regularity and single base that's important if you want to train to climb hard.

The main problem for me with my work is that I'm so busy over the winter season. Even though I'm based mostly in Scotland for that period I hardly climb as there are no nearby climbing walls, and I don't even have the advantage of getting out winter climbing as much as I'd like either.

I've also been giving a few more talks this year for clubs, events and other groups - as far afield as Poland! This has been alongside my sponsorship, which gives me a valid reason to tell my girlfriend that when I go climbing I'm 'working' but also brings up many great opportunities to travel and climb more often than I would otherwise be able to.

I'm also proud to be a BMC Ambassador. I can go rock climbing and hill walking almost anywhere I go in England and Wales and a lot of that is down to the diplomacy and organisation of the BMC. It's easy to forget about what you already have but since the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW), largely brought about by the BMC, our access to the outdoors has been fantastic.

If you compare this with access to the rivers and waterways of England and Wales, which doesn't fall under the BMC's agenda, you'll notice a marked difference. This is largely due to a lack of reasonable 'give and take' diplomacy between the different user groups and land owners.

I've got a few busy months of work ahead and then I'm committed to climbing lots more in 2016. I'm hoping to head back to Yosemite, have a go at some unfinished business in the Alps like Silbergeier and hopefully climb way more in the UK, specifically in Scotland.

READ: Calum Muskett: Five things I wish I'd known when I started alpine climbing


We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.

Did you know that we've just launched a new U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/join-the-bmc-for-1-month-U27-membership


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