Clément Lechaptois, the rock’s relentless
At 28 years old, Clément is one of the best French outdoor climbers. This 8b and 8c cross climber has always intrigued us. What is his lifestyle? How do you manage to reconcile your professional life and your passion when you are a rock climber? Here is a look back at a day with Clément.
We met Clément in the Hautes-Alpes, near Annecy. The day begins with a weather check of the week, as every Monday morning. According to the moments of rain, Clément modulates his timetable. Today, with the sun shining, we will start with a morning of work before going to the forest to have fun.
“I work often in the morning, then I climb in the afternoon and I do a training session in the evening.”
SNAP: What is your job? Do you manage to live from climbing or do you have a professional activity aside?
Clément : “In climbing I would say that I am semi-pro, part of my income comes from sponsors and I am also an independent opener. Even if I don’t open a lot, it’s a creative job that I like, a pleasant environment. I open for national teams and for competitions.
At the same time, as I love training and I am a mechanical engineer, I decided to create an innovative training tool that allows me to concentrate the real scientific data of a training session and to make it accessible to climbers. It’s a tool dedicated more to climbing gyms, and we’re currently developing a second Smartboard that will be oriented for individuals with my associates.”
After a studious morning, we head to the area where Clement is currently training, about an hour away.
“The ideal pace is to have two half days of climbing outside, or just go exploring.”
SNAP : What do you mean by “exploring”?
Clément : “My passion is to develop new areas, to open outdoor blocks. Very early on, I made the choice to sacrifice my work to go outside. For more than four years, I have been trying to produce beautiful photos and videos and to make this discipline accessible, to inspire and show the beautiful places where you can go climbing. To make people want to go there.”
SNAP: How do you choose your projects?
Clement: “The aspect that always motivates me in the quest for new boulders is aesthetics: shapes, holds, movements… I don’t particularly like climbing next to a factory, I like to be in beautiful places.”
SNAP: How do you go about finding beautiful places?
Clément: “It’s a lot of word of mouth, it can even be with practitioners of other sports, the guys who run will explore much further than what we can do in climbing. For example Le Grand Sablat was found by skiers! It’s cool to talk to people in the mountains, watch videos… I do a lot of Google Earth searching, read IGN maps and go hiking. Sometimes I find nuggets on the side of the road when I least expect it. Opening boulders is not very natural for people, usually they arrive on a spot, look at the topo and limit themselves to the existing one, but sometimes it’s just next to a boulder, and nobody had noticed it yet!
I have opened some crazy 7a’s, sometimes a bit high and not always accessible, and I stumbled upon them. As you go along you see more and more lines appearing.”
The climbing session lingers as it almost always does with this relentless rock climber… fortunately we had taken the headlamps!