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Marc Subirana: "One of our missions is to promote women's mountaineering and give visibility to the activities carried out by female rope teams"

FEDME (the Spanish Federation for Mountain and Climbing Sports) believes in young mountaineers and, as a result, the Spanish Mountaineering Team was born – a group of young people from 18 to 30 years of age that, after passing certain tests of physical strength and technique, make up part of a group of 6 to 8 mountaineers for a three-year technical skills in mountaineering training period.

After three years of activity, those who were selected in 2015 are finishing up their period and this has thus given way to a new call for participants. The timeframe to submit sports CVs for those young people who wish to participate in the selection tests for the new FEDME 2018 – 2020 Spanish Mountaineering Team is open until December 15, 2017.

We spoke with Lluis Giner, Technical Director of FEDME, and Marc Subirana,  Director of the Women's Climbing team, who gave us more details about this project.

How did the idea of launching a program for young people come about?

Lluis Giner: Well, mountaineering is like any other sport – it has a certain variety that is more high-level and performance oriented and, in reality, those aspects are what FEDME is really interested in; so, it's normal for us to have a technical skills program just like we the one we have for downhill skiing, mountain races, and climbing; however, the peculiarities of mountaineering and, more specifically, the intrinsic risk that comes along with it, makes us work with young people who are at least 18 years old. In addition, mountaineering –with its multidisciplinary nature and the need to get experience on the mountain as the years go by– means that the younger ages (below 18) are only able to work safely on specific skills, like rock-wall climbing, alpine skiing, rock climbing in schools, downhill skiing, etc. which are already a good basis for what could happen down the line in the future.

In most cases, FEDME works with young talent of at least 18 years of age to provide them with technical skills for a period of three years.  These young people normally come from an autonomous technical skills center, so they already have the habit of training at a high performance level, while likewise practicing the different aspects of mountaineering: downhill skiing, ice climbing, rock climbing of all types, mixed climbing, mountaineering techniques and tactics, eating habits, health, pathology as it relates to altitude, objective dangers, orienteering, use of avalanche transceivers, maneuvers with ropes, self-rescue maneuvers, etc.

What assessment can you make of the program?

Marc Subirana: From my point of view, these three years have been a remarkable success for the young men and women who make up both teams, as they have been able to undertake multiple climbing and mountaineering activities, both in Spain and in Europe, and –especially– they have been able to grow on a personal and human level, learning from values that mountaineering brings with it to the table. 

It's a way to support women's mountaineering. 

M.S: We aren't used to associating women with mountaineering. One of our missions is to promote women's mountaineering and give visibility to the activities carried out by female rope teams. Throughout these three years, several of the women on the team have done remarkable things with their female companions and they have been able to get visibility and dissemination through conferences and film screenings in the entire Spanish territory. So, surely there are other women who will follow their example. 

What values revolve around this project?

M.S: Camaraderie and friendship amongst those on the team – especially in delicate, tricky situations; that’s something that provides people with strong, long-lasting bonds. This relationship between the members of the team and the trust you place in your fellow climbers makes you grow on a personal level in a very intense way – a way that, for me, is difficult to explain to someone who does not climb or do mountaineering. 

Are there any future plans?

M.S: Soon there will be selection tests for the new teams. Currently, the submission period to send sports CVs to FEDME is open and in February we will do the selection tests to choose the young men and women who, for 3 more years, will be part of the new Spanish Mountaineering Teams. 

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