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E16 TRANSCRIPT: Should topless climbing be banned? (with Soraya Abdel-Hadi and Carlos Casas)


[MUSIC starts - Bassbeat by Alex Norton: "Funky and upbeat, jangling guitars, a fat bassline and a full horn section create the perfect soundtrack to a late summer block party."]

FRAN: Hello and welcome to you on the outside the podcast that shares diverse views on outdoors News. My name is Francesca Turauskis. I am the producer of On the Outside. And once again, I am your host for today and today's conversation. I'm quite excited to see where this one goes because we are focusing on just one topic, which I'll get into in a little bit. And we have two people here today to talk about it. One person from a couple of the previous episodes, she was in the Kendal Festival episode and she was in the episode about the Pentathlon Soraya. Hi.

SORAYA: Hi. I'm pleased to be back. So my name is Soraya. I am a writer and an artist, and I also do lots of things relating to the outdoors. I organize all women's sailing trips, looking at plastics and toxics in the ocean. And I also run a nonprofit called All The Elements, which is a network for everyone creating change on diversity in the UK outdoors.

FRAN: Thank you, Soraya. It is great to have you back on the show. And the second guest on the show today is somebody who hasn't been on the podcast before, but has actually been talked about on the podcast before. Carlos, aas of Color, Bristol. Hello. Welcome to the show.

CARLOS: Hello. Thank you so much for having me here, Fran. It's, it's quite an honor, so I appreciate your invitation. Thank you so much.

FRAN: You're quite welcome. So we know a little bit about you because we spoke about you in the Kendall Mountain Festival show, and you spoke on the Inc panel at Kendall Mountain Festival, and we heard a little bit about that from CRE and Kirsty who were both present at that panel. But can you give us a little bit of an idea for listeners what it is you do with Color Up Bristol?

CARLOS: So we started Color Up to celebrate and to promote diversity within climbing. And it has expanded to much more than that, thankfully. And it just became this really cool group of people that likes to climb and they climb together. But it's also a support group. It's also a really tight community and it's many more things than that. And it just keeps growing and growing in all beautiful directions. But at a personal level, I just love climbing and I love using climbing as a vehicle for better things or for more things. So I'm not too forced about the sense or about how hard you climb, but about what you do with your climbing.

FRAN: Yeah, beautiful. So it's a community group that really resonates with a lot of people that are on the podcast. And the reason that I wanted to speak to Carlos today, and the reason that CREA is on as well is that this is going to be another episode which is very focused on climbing and particularly climbing culture and indoor climbing and climbing gyms

SORAYA: And naked men

FRAN: And naked men. Man,

CARLOS: I am dressed at the moment, I just want our listeners to know that I'm not naked.

FRAN: I've given myself a really bad segue there now. But let's see what we can do. And Sira, I'm going to hand this over to you very quickly because this is basically a conversation which we started having on WhatsApp, and then we decided this is a good conversation for a podcast. And so we decided to record it and invite Carlos along so that it's not just us talking about the conversation.

CARLOS: representing all men in the world.

FRAN: All men. All men in the world.

CARLOS: Okay. Okay. Yeah. Easy.

FRAN: But yeah, if you want to give us a little bit of an insight into the catalyst for this conversation.

SORAYA: So Fran messaged me and sent me an Instagram post, and I believe your message was, I feel like you might have an opinion.

CARLOS: She clearly knows you're very well.

SORAYA: I know, that's what I was going to say. Thank you, Carlos. I was like, weirdly, I do have an opinion. So the post was from a climber who was saying that a London wall had recently told all people, I assume it was aimed at all people, not just men, you have to wear your tops when you are in our center. No topless climbing essentially. Now the post itself was very, he was trying to be very balanced. He said that his opinion was that it shouldn't matter, and it was more about people's attitudes, maybe the attitudes of people who walk around, I was going to say strut, which was going to be putting in a little bit of my opinion into this. They just like wind it back a little bit who walk around without their tots on and that he didn't feel like everyone should be penalized for the behavior of a few people.

And it touched on a number of different things, including whether male climbers can perform as well with their tops off in hot weather. And also talked about it being the same as women wearing gym clothing, which I was very confused about, but maybe we can delve into that in a bit more detail further in. And it's something that's come up for me actually quite a lot. When I used to work as a climbing instructor, I remember a mom came up to me when I was teaching a class once and she kind of sid up to me, I'm doing the little sidal just for Cos and Fran, and said to me, do you not find it distracting? She literally said it like that. And I said, what?

And she was like, they're naked men. And I had not even noticed. I was so desensitized to it. It's such a normal sight in climbing centers, especially around the bouldering wall. You don't really see it with roped climbers so much, probably because it's actually quite uncomfortable, but definitely around the bouldering wall. And yeah, I realize that actually it is, it's a problem for some people. So I'm really interested to know what Carlos thinks. And then I have loads more opinions. I have a divided opinion on this. I have two main thoughts, but I want to see if Carlos has the same main thoughts and I know the thoughts that Fran has. Carlos, do you climb topless?

CARLOS: I have climbed topless once and I don't like doing it. I don't know why. And I don't like when I see guys in the climbing gym being topless. I just feel like it's a bit too over the top, no pun intended, but I just wouldn't ban it. I don't like the idea of banning a certain behavior or a certain style or a certain expression unless there are right reasons for it or at least reasons. So I think my main question with this ban is why I cannot seem to see in my head a train of thought that takes me to, oh, okay, it's a good idea to ban it. I don't really understand it. And yeah, I mean some people might feel uncomfortable because of it, I assume, but then is it the act of bean without a shirt or is it something that is linked usually to that which is all this toxic culture that we see in Boulder and gym or in climbing gyms. And that goes way beyond what you're wearing. I think that for me is a real problem and not how much clothing you decide to have on you, but does that align with what you think?

FRAN: Yeah, I think that is a really interesting, a coup couple of things that you picked up on there, which resonates with my thoughts on it a bit as well and resonates quite a lot with the original Instagram post because he was saying possibly not as eloquently, but a very similar thing as to whether it is to do with the lack of top or whether it's to do with the perceived culture around that and the type of people that potentially go topless. Carlos, you said there that you, you've done it once and then you didn't personally feel like it felt for you or it felt needed.


FRAN: Can you remember when you first started climbing in a gym? Is it something which was noticeable to you as a, oh, people are topless in here. Yeah, definitely. Other gyms that you don't necessarily see people, I don't even know if you're allowed to be topless in other regular gyms.

CARLOS: Yeah, I think for me as well, since I only started climbing when I was 23, I had already a lot of experience of going to gyms briefly, but then when I went to a climate gym, it was like, you could definitely see the change. And for me at that time, because you're a dude, you don't think about it. You're like, okay, yeah, some of them are topless, whatever. But as Reya said, so you get used to it so quickly and you just don't register it anymore. You don't see it anymore. And maybe that's the problem here. Maybe we're so used to it that we won't challenge it or perceive it as something wrong. But again, I just cannot seem to understand why it's so bad or why is it something that should be banned? And this is coming from someone that strives to make climbing the most inclusive and safe space as possible. This is something that concerns me and this is something that I want to happen. I want everyone to feel comfortable in a climbing gym, but I feel this isn't one of the avenues that I would personally take. I don't know if that answers your original question. That was something completely different, but I just decided to rant.

SORAYA: So I have two very split thoughts on this. The first one is that people should be able to dress and wear whatever they want there is. So I'm agreeing and also talking about the attitude that usually comes with it. That's also something, but having people climbing topless is intimidating for some people. It's intimidating, not for everybody, but it can be intimidating for new people, for beginners, for people who aren't used to seeing people without tops on. And my thing is, I don't feel like banning is one way of tackling that issue. It's not necessarily tackling the cause, but it is one way of helping that problem, if that makes sense. Because there are very, we know, we all know climbers who climb with their tops off most of the time have amazing bodies. That's where they're confident taking their tops off and climbing. It's triggering for people who have body issues.

It's problematic for people who are already thinking, am I a climber? Should I be here in this space? But we all know that actually most of the time, not all of the time, but most of the time, if you tap one of those guys on the shoulder and you're like, Hey, can you tell me about X? Or what's going on over here? Or Can I climb that? Usually they're friendly. Yeah. They just look like they're not friendly because they're built Greek gods and they're walking around and because they've got all the muscles, they're climbing like everything. But actually when you speak to them, they're usually really friendly. So one of the things that I used to do is if I had a group of adult beginners and there were climbers that I knew on the bouldering wall when we did the bouldering intro, I would introduce them and depending on who they were, it would be a different introduction. It might be like, hi, this is Steve. Steve's lovely. Or it might be a bit more heckle like that. That's Craig. Ignore him.

FRAN: Walk along.

SORAYA: Yeah, just ignore. He's going to do that. Just ignore him. But I

FRAN: Think take him no encouragement.

SORAYA: Exactly. Exactly. So I think there needs to be another solution, but I don't know what that other solution is because you can't be there to supervise people all the time. You can't be there to be the person who's like, don't worry. They're not as intimidating as they look like. And very soon you won't even notice that they're doing that.

FRAN: Yeah. I have a couple of follow up questions to this then Sara. And my first one is, you gave us a bit of a anecdote earlier about a woman at the climbing gym when you were working there, who was uncomfortable with these guys that had their top

SORAYA: Sign? I don't know. I don't if she was uncomfortable. Her words were, don't you find it distracting?

FRAN: Oh yeah, interest. Maybe she was too comfortable. This my, yes, this was that's, that was me reading into it. Then that changes the answer to this question, I think rather significantly in that case. So this is going to be a two part question. What did you do in that situation? Was there any actions you took as a staff member when she said that to you?

SORAYA: I was teaching a class. I was tailing ropes. I had a group on the wall, so my action was, oh, I think I said something like, oh, I don't even see them anymore. I don't even notice it. So do I find it distracting? No.

But yes, they do do that. Just kind of normalizing it, I guess. And she took that quite well. But I guess the other thing that I'm thinking is, I'm talking about this is I was teaching a kids class and we know that what kids look at, what they see around them influences who they think they should be, what they think they should look like, how they like all of those things. And I don't know, cause I've never really thought about it, but I wonder how much of an impact mean, we know there's problems with eating disorders within climbing. There was that documentary that wasn't too many months ago, light, which was talking about eating disorders within climbing. It would be a lot to say that it's directly connected to men climbing with their tops off because it's so much more than that. But I am wondering whether there is, there's something in that as well that we should probably be paying a little bit more attention to. Mean centers are not just for adults, are they? Yeah. I don't know.

FRAN: So my second question then is if somebody came up to you as a member of staff and said that they were uncomfortable, would there be any protocol for that? Is that something that you would have to make a judgment call or?

SORAYA: I don't think there wouldn't have been any official protocol. But if somebody had come up to me and said that to me, depending on who the person was, who approached me, and depending on who the person was who was climbing, I might have had a conversation. I don't want trying to think of a way to word this because it's not coming out correctly, but it's a difference between feeling uncomfortable with something a valid, I feel uncomfortable because it makes me feel like X, Y, Z and complaining about something because it is something that you do not like. Do you see what I mean? Mm-hmm. Like, yeah. Yeah. Something that makes you feel horrible inside and uncomfortable and unsettled is a completely different thing to being, I don't think people should be allowed to climb with their tops off.

FRAN: Yeah.

SORAYA: So it would depend a little bit on the approach.

CARLOS: I work at a climate gym at the moment, and we don't have any specific protocol for it, but it's something that I hope that if it happens, the person that is without their top would be, can I say asshole in this podcast?

FRAN: <laugh> can say what you want

CARLOS: Would be not an asshole besides wear their top again if someone is visibly uncomfortable because of it. But as you said, Brandi would be a judgment call. There's, at least in my center, there's no protocol to go about this just to add up Soraya's answer.

FRAN: Yeah, interesting. And I think that that difference between something that a person feels uncomfortable around versus something that makes people uncomfortable is a very difficult line to toe. Cause I mean, we had the conversation about pregnant climbers a couple of months ago now, and I was saying that I find pregnant bellies really weird. It makes me feel very strange looking at them, particularly when they're out and climbing and stuff like that. But I'm going to turn around and go pregnant should be covered because I feel uncomfortable looking at them because we don't see them that much. So I very much sounds like very similar to both of you feel like there's a certain amount of neutrality. Yes.

CARLOS: Neutrality. That is a word.

FRAN: Neutrality, there's a word. There is a word there somewhere. There's a certain amount of neutrality with bodies and that kind of thing that if you're all in a space together and you are trying to make yourself comfortable, maybe you shouldn't be so concerned with what other people look like. And I think that's something that seemed to come up quite a lot in the Instagram post and some of the comments that were on there was quite a lot of things to do with does it matter? Why are you looking? I think was in there with a couple of them and that kind of thing. So then there's the second layer to it then, which is it less to do with the actual act of taking the top off? And is it more to do with the culture around


FRAN: Bouldering and bros and bros thing? Boulderer bros. And there was a couple of things that I sent over to both of you. I dunno if you both managed to read it, but it was

CARLOS: Just, I did my homework.

FRAN: <laugh>

SORAYA: Tick, tick, come. Thank you. I also did my homework. It wasn't just Carlos who did his homework. I also did my homework,

FRAN: <laugh>, double tick, double tick. And it was a couple of different threads that were some of them quite old. Some of them are going back seven years, and some of them are nothing to do with climbing at all. It was just to do with what do you think of men with their tops off in the summer? And this thread that happened on Instagram last week and a thread that happened in UK climbing seven years ago. It was exactly the same conversation. So there's obviously something that needs to be talked about there. And the guy that posted the Instagram post, Robbie Phillips, quite a famous climber from the look of it. I'm not a climber, so I don't know these people, but that post had a lot more engagement than his other posts. So there's a lot of people that have a lot of opinions on this as well. It's not just a kind of simple answer to things. I dunno where I'm quite going with this. I suppose my sarre looks like she might be able to translate. For me,

SORAYA: It was more that I was just thinking that. I think it's also related to the fact that the climbing community are not a community that likes to be told what to do generally. Mm-hmm. Like that's not at all just men with their tops off. Generally climbers are quite independent. They are doing a sport, which until very recently was very out of the mainstream. It wasn't something that you would see a lot of people doing. I think they just don't being told what to do. So I think the reason why it had so much engagement is because everyone was like, how dare you? I am a human in this world and I am allowed to do whatever I want.

CARLOS: I don't even take my top off. And I feel like attacked in a way, <laugh> attacked is a bit much, but I just don't understand it. That's my thing. I just don't see where it's coming from.

SORAYA: I feel attacked. And that's because I feel quite protective over the guys that I know who do climb with their tops off. And I like a lot. I don't want them to be tarred with this brush, but equally I don't Complicated.

CARLOS: And at the same time, it's really easy. It is complicated, but at the same time it's really easy. It's like, can you wear a shirt if you have to? Most people would say, yeah, they'll still go and climb in the same gym. But I think what we're going to end up with is a community that is going to have the same flaws as it has now, but people are going to be wearing their shirts. So many things that I would consider banning before banning topless skies.

SORAYA: Okay. I want your list

CARLOS: Again.

SORAYA: I want your list. No, I

CARLOS: Don't have it. I don't have it with me. I don't have it with me, but I would definitely ban some words that I hear too often in climbing gyms before banning, let's say someone being without their shirts and attitudes as well. But obviously how you do you police an attitude? How do you make sure that you're eradicating it? And going back to it banning something doesn't mean that it's necessarily not going to happen or it's not going to be the preferred way of doing something. You're definitely taking it out of the equation if you're banning tops off in a gym. But again, and this is why I keep insisting on, is that going to change all of the other toxic behavior that usually characterizes a tops off climber? Are they going to put their shirt on and then all of a sudden they're going to be nicer and better people and be more friendly towards newcomers? I don't think so. So I think we should be focusing more on that and less on what we're wearing.

FRAN: I'm going to throw a spanner in the works here. As somebody that is an essentially isn't part of the climbing community. I know quite a lot of people that are climbers, but I could probably count on two hands how many times I've been in a climbing gym in the past five years. So it's not something that I particularly feel comfortable in that space. I certainly don't think that it's necessarily the lack of tops that makes me feel like that, sir said, I probably didn't really notice when I was in there whether somebody was wearing a top or not. But I find I'm coming at it from the point of view of a kind of customer service experience essentially, and a customer experience in that.

I think there is a little bit of naivety in the idea of climbing, being this community where you are part of the community, you're all friends together and that kind of thing. And I think that that is one of the things that maybe when you're part of it, that's great, but for individuals who are coming in who don't have that kind of group affiliation, whether that is an affinity group like Color Up Bristol, or whether that is a gym and the folks, and to say it should be, I think is not practical because at the end of the day, if you are wanting a truly diverse space, you're going to have clashes because everybody needs something different from a space that they want to be comfortable in. So is that something that as staff members and as gyms, that needs to maybe start being more regulated? And it may be staff need to start intervening more?

SORAYA: I mean...

CARLOS: <laugh> exactly what I think I It's a tough one.

SORAYA: Yeah. It's really hard because the thing is that any operating community, whether it's a yes, okay, the more people you have, the more complicated it is. But whether it's a gym or it's a town or it's a school or any of those things have a mix of people and they have a load of norms and rules, but actually most of it is still self-regulating the way that people treat each other, how inclusive it is, is it's led by the top. And I think Carlos would agree with me that all of the usual things apply in customer service at a climbing woo. You're not rude to other people. No. Yeah, there's no hate speech, there's no bullying. No there's, and there's very specific climbing norms which are like, don't climb on a route that someone else is trying to use and mm-hmm. A whole load of things.

I think it's maybe more about helping people who are starting understand what those norms are. Basically what I'm is, I think that there's a role to play for both rules and norms. I think the issue is that policing what people wear and what they look like and how they show up as the authentically as themselves, or a wall in a sport that has always valued individuality and breaking away from cultural norms is always going to be controversial. It's going to be difficult. I know I talked about kids earlier, and I'm immediately in my head, I'm like, why would I even say that? Because kids should be able to see all parts of human bodies. The problem is, is they're only seeing the Greek gods of the bodies. My thing about it, it's what Carlos was saying, everyone should be able to be, have themselves hanging out. We should see representations of all bodies in all forms. And my issue is that if you only ever see the fit people, if you only ever see the chiseled people, then you are putting forward a vision of a world that actually none of us want to live in <laugh>. Right,

CARLOS: Exactly.

SORAYA: It's complicated. I think basically what we need to do is just ban all the bad behavior just but how do we do that? Maybe what we should have is we should have Carlos as our friendliness officer and

CARLOS: Okay, oh, I love that title. Yes, I want that

SORAYA: Job. And you can just walk around on the bouldering wall introducing people to each other and being like, hello, this is <laugh>, whoever. He's very friendly, even though he's still, he's not wearing a top. And he will show you how to climb that.

CARLOS: Because I feel like, again, up until this point, we're not complaining about the people being topless, but everything that we've said so far, it's mostly about an attitude associated to the fact that they're not wearing a shirt. But I don't know, I just feel like it's putting more red tape into something that doesn't need it.

SORAYA: So the question is, you are right. It's about the behavior and it's about the stereotypes. I am massively stereotyping, but I think that is the sort of person who is attracted to behaving in the way that we're discussing. Right. Or being perceived in that way. Because I know plenty of climbers, yes, I was saying earlier, who would climb with their tops off and are lovely human beings. We're not here to criticize the lovely ones.

Everyone should be allowed to experience the climbing center how they want. But a little bit in hiking where we are telling everyone to say hi to someone when you pass them in hiking someone new approaches the boardroom. And this does happen all the time in wolves, across the country, across the world. You approach the boardroom wall, there is someone there with their top off, they've just stopped to look at their problem and they are, they're like, hi. And you're like, oh, hello. Hi. They smiled at me and they said, hi, that's fine. You don't need to have any further conversation. Yeah, it's just a welcoming attitude,

CARLOS: Which I think it's key.

FRAN: I couldn't figure out which one, but a London climbing center has banned it. And some of the comments were saying that there were other bouldering centers and climbing centers that have had no tops bands for a while. So the question is, in term, well, my question is in terms of being able to offer things to everybody, perhaps there should be some places that do ban, or perhaps there should be some times at which that you are going and you're going for a top on climbing session <laugh>, like you have slow lane swimming sessions and open water sessions. that kind of thing?

SORAYA: Are you saying that having a top-pod is the same as swimming in a slow lane?

FRAN: Saying, I'm wondering if that's one of the things that maybe if there is some concern that people might find it uncomfortable for people to be topless, maybe there is a compromise there where you can have sessions that are completely topped, <laugh>

CARLOS: Topped.

SORAYA: I think that's an interesting idea. Oh, the first thing I thought though was that it reminded me of Pitch Perfect.

CARLOS: I haven't seen it.

SORAYA: Okay. So I

FRAN: Haven't seen it either.

SORAYA: Oh, that's why you both looked at me blankly. Yeah, you were both right. Anyone else would've laugh. Okay. It's a bit of an out there reference. It's basically a teen film about acapella groups of what happens is they all have their own different styles and cultures. So some of them wear certain clothing or they approach things in a different way, or they take certain musical styles, and then they all come together for the competition and they all display their different <laugh>, their different, I dunno. I dunno how I torsos. Yeah, yeah, they're different torsos. I don't know how I've got into this hole. I just was thinking as I was talking, I was like, how have I ended up here? But it doesn't matter. So we're at the acapella competition, <laugh>, right. And what I was thinking is that you can imagine that if you had some gyms that were top on gyms and some that were topless gyms, that you're going to see them come into their climbing competitions in their different styles.

Like, Ooh, that's the vest center. And that one over that, oh, that's the topless one. And then it'd be super interesting to know whether it did actually end up attracting different people, because some of the threads were saying, oh, well, if they ban tops, I'll just go to another center that'll, sorry, not ban tops. Make you wear tops. I'll just go to another center where they let me go topless. And so if you did that, would you end up with pockets of different personality types depending on what top they were allowed to wear? Or not wear <laugh>, but <laugh> in principle? My answer to that would be maybe, I dunno how popular it would be, but it might depend. We talk about barriers to different groups coming into climbing or into different sports. That sort of thing might be appealing for particular groups of people. I don't know,

FRAN: Because we obviously have affinity groups and obviously all women climbing or underrepresented genders in general is a very common thing in a lot of sports. But I dunno mean, it'd be interesting to see if it's that kind of between where people don't necessarily want to just climb with women. Maybe they do want to meet men as well, for whatever reason. <laugh>

SORAYA: Just cloth men. But

FRAN: <laugh>, yeah, just cloth men. But yeah, whether is that's culturally, whether that is from personal experience or whatever, that is just something that maybe it does put people off to have that option. But

CARLOS: Yeah, I think ultimately

FRAN: You say whether there would be

CARLOS: Climbing.

FRAN: Yeah.

CARLOS: Then people will, if I cannot think of anyone going to a new gym and being like, yeah, I canceled my membership at the other gym because they wouldn't let me take my top off. I don't think that person exists.

FRAN: I feel like that person exists.

CARLOS: You think so? Wow. What an ego? What a fragile ego.

SORAYA: I know. But that's the point though, right? So we care. That's the question. If they're the sort of person who's going to quit a gym because they're told to that they have to put their top on are we worried about the loss of them from our community? Probably not <laugh>

CARLOS: Not about the individual probably, but about the precedent that it makes. I don't know. I'm just worried that you would be focusing your energies in policing clothing instead of other things. That's my main concern here.

SORAYA: I think you're right. I don't think it's about the tops at all. I was thinking about the comparison in the original post between women wearing sports clothing and them wearing tops, which I thought was not, it didn't come across as what he meant. I think what he was saying is that obviously you can wear sports bras and you can reduce your amount of clothing quite a lot as a woman. And the thing that I was going to say about it is I feel like why does a rule about whether or not men should wear tops have to drag <laugh> women and what women wear?

Yes. Into the conversation. Because there was a lot of like, well, what women wear is incredibly distracting when they're like, and I just was like, are you really going to go down that route? Are we really going to go through historically how women's clothing has been policed and how women's bodies are seen? I just wanted to say that I don't think we need to tackle the issue as the actual issue. Let's not drag in these other, I think there would be uproar, obviously if women were climbing topless, there would be uproar. And that's inequality in itself. But it's just so frustrating to see a conversation, which actually is about men's bodies, them being turned into being about women's bodies. How did that happen? It's always about women's bodies leave us alone. Yeah.

FRAN: And there's always the conversation of every, well, I would love it if we could all go topless winky Emoji.

CARLOS: Yeah. Honestly. Yeah.

FRAN: At least one. Always at least one.

SORAYA: And I'd like to throw in there as well that there were a lot of men. I not talking about the guy who did the original Instagram post, because I think he handled that side of it quite well. But there are a lot of men in some of the threads who are like, I definitely can't climb as hard with a top on. Like, Ooh.

CARLOS: Yeah, that's ridiculous. Yeah, no, that's like, oh, if I don't take this layer of a hundred percent cotton or whatever, if I don't take that off, I'm just going to die. I'm just going to go to the climbing gym and perish. That's it. It's my last day on earth because I didn't take my top off. That's ridiculous. That's a lie.

SORAYA: We do love an excuse that's all in your head. We do love an excuse as a climber though, right? It's a, yeah, it's another high gravity day.

FRAN: Yeah,

CARLOS: Yeah, exactly. Maybe this band was made by people that climb with their tops off because they cannot climb as hard. But now they have an excuse. <laugh>. Guys, I saw, I solved the issue.

SORAYA: I was climbing. I was really, I was crushing it. But now I have to have the top on. Never, never again.

CARLOS: Exactly. That's it.

SORAYA: Jugs only <laugh>.

CARLOS: <laugh>.

FRAN: Sorry, what? Jugs. Only <laugh>.

SORAYA: So really climbing reference a jug is a type of climbing hold. It's the type of climbing hold,

CARLOS: Which is very easy to hold. It's very nice.

FRAN: Oh, okay. Yeah. This was useful context.

SORAYA: Sorry.

CARLOS: Of course.

FRAN: Carlos, is there anything that is coming up for you and color up Bristol that you would listeners to know about?

CARLOS: So we are approaching our second birthday, which I'm really excited about. Whoop, happy birthday to us. Yes. Our birthday is in late September, and we have planned a trip to the Peak District. So we're going to be doing some climbing there over the weekend, one of the weekends in September, beginning of October. And I am excited about it because we might invite members from some other groups that are also working for a more diverse and a more inclusive climbing community. So it's going to be like a big-ish get together, which I'm really excited about. And apart from that, we're still doing our weekly meetups. We're still climbing very often, and we're welcoming everyone that wants to climb with us tops on our tops off. But top on prefer.

FRAN: And which center is it that that's at?

CARLOS: So we climb at Flashpoint in Bristol, and we also climb at the mothership, which is part of TCA here in Bristol as well. And well, this is going to be like once this airs, this has happened already, but we are also visiting Swanee. So we are trying to build communities in Swanee and also in Swindon. We're trying to visit there every so often so that people there, if they have a similar project, we can offer them help. And we can also foster an inclusive climbing community in these two places. So yeah, hit me up. If you're in Swanee or in Swindon and you feel like you want to change your local climbing scene will help you.

FRAN: Beautiful. And Soraya, is there anything that you would like to leave with our listeners?

SORAYA: So all the elements is doing as usual, lots of different things but we are collaborating on an event in September with the Y H A and Natural England where we are doing lots of sessions to help leaders and groups like just do more stuff, do more of their amazing stuff, which I'm really excited about. There'll be content coming out from that because we want to help groups and individuals who couldn't make it to the actual event. So if you are running a group and you're developing a group or you just have an idea, keep an eye out for that. The content will be coming out on our channels in October. Other than that, we're going to be running our regular socials, and we are still building our directory and our resources. So if you have anything that you go to our website, you're like, my group's not here, or I really just listened to this amazing podcast with X, then tell us and we can edit it and build it. So yeah, still lots going on. I think that's it.


FRAN: Thank you to Soraya and Carlos for that conversation. It was really interesting to get their insights on it. And as you can hear, there was a lot of agreement and some disagreement in it, which is part of what this podcast is all about. I would love to hear your views on this as well. Do you think that climbing centers should ban topless climbing? Do you think that there should be sessions where topless climbing isn't allowed? And do you think that staff should be more involved in regulating behaviors in climbing centers? Let me know. You can get in touch with us, or you can get in touch with us on Twitter and Instagram. It's @ontheoutsidepod. On both on the Outside artwork is by Sophie Nolan. Music is Bass Beats by Alex Norton. This episode was produced, hosted, and edited by myself, and this podcast is part of the Tremula Network, Adventure and Outdoor Podcasts off the Beaten track. If you'd like to find out more about that, head to Thank you very much to Soraya and Carlos for being on the show today. And of course, thank you all for listening.


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