Climber Spotlight: Tim Emmett

Meet Tim Emmett —rock and ice climber, alpinist, deep water soloist, author, international speaker, wingsuit pilot, husband, father … the list goes on and on! Tim is an inspiration to us at Moja for his ability to excel in just about any endeavor he puts his mind to. 

Read on to hear how this UK-native landed his first sponsorships, how he balances climbing with a family, and why he gave up BASE jumping:


Tim Emmett
Photo: Morgan Lee

How did climbing enter into your life? Tell us about the early days of your climbing career.

I started climbing at school when I was 15 and I instantly loved it! I enjoyed going climbing outside, surrounded by nature, and also the challenge of trying to get to the top. I guess my professional climbing career started when I was at University in North Wales in the UK. Being at Uni gave me enough time to try some of the harder routes in the area and also establish some of my own.

Several pictures of these were published in the climbing media, so I cut out the shots and made a portfolio to take to a trade show and presented it to number of brands. They were psyched, so that’s how I got my first sponsorship contracts. I didn’t have much money so it felt like a real treat to get climbing gear without paying for it, and also the chance to earn some money from doing something that I am very passionate about.

Now I’ve been in partnership with Mountain Hardwear for the last 16 years. I really enjoy working with such a young and fresh brand, open to new ideas and innovation.

Tim Emmett
Tim deep water soloing in Thailand. Photo: Paul Twomey

Do you find it hard to balance your love for climbing with having a family?

That’s a good question—the two things I love the most are climbing and my family, so finding a balance can sometimes be challenging. Looking at the bigger picture, if you can balance two things you love, you’re in a fortunate position. I think it comes down to how much time you have available to share between them.

Since Rocco was born, I haven’t been on high altitude expeditions that require 4-8 weeks, much of which is for acclimatization. I have been focusing on shorter trips and finding out where my limit is for hard climbing. Where you live can have a huge impact on how your time can be shared between climbing and family. Living in Squamish is brilliant because it only takes 10 minutes to get to the crag, so if I have a 2 and 1/2 hour window of time, I can have a good training session and get back home.

I am also psyched to be a Mountain Hardwear athlete, which gives me flexibility to choose when I work or climb. I also have a couple of businesses that I spend time on, one around public speaking, and one that focuses on helping people with their health and diet.

 

Related: An Interview with Sonnie Trotter: Where Life and Climbing Intersect

Tim Emmett at Penguin Rock, NWT, Canada
Tim climbing at Penguin Rock, NWT, Canada.

In the past, you used to participate in BASE jumping. Do you still participate in this? What factors or situations have impacted your decision to jump or not to jump?

After base jumping for 10 years I have now retired from the sport. I still fly wingsuits and jump out of a planes, just not off cliffs.

It got to the point where I thought that if I continued BASE jumping, it would probably kill me. A lot of my friends died and I felt that if I continued with the sport, it would be like being on a ticking time-bomb that you never know when will explode. That took the fun out of it for me, so I decided to quit while I still had the choice.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of learning to fly, especially with the wingsuits, but it got to the point where I valued my life and my family more than a few seconds of exhilaration. I also realized that to make flying more interesting, I had to make it more dangerous, and this wasn’t an option, I felt the risk was high enough already.

Tim Emmet BASE jumping
Tim’s 100th BASE jump in Thailand. Photo: Matt Robertson
Tim Emmett wingsuit flying
Wingsuit flying past the Dru. Photo: James Boole

What is one of your proudest climbing accomplishments?

The first one that springs to mind is getting to the top of Helmcken Falls in Canada with Klemen Premrl. When I first arrived at the Falls with Will Gadd, the idea of climbing to the top of the cave was so far outside of my helm of possibility or even wildest dreams that when it actually happened, I was shocked and overwhelmed it felt like a real achievement.

 

Related: Will Gadd Climbs the World’s Hardest Mixed Climb

 

What is one of your not-so-proud moments in climbing?

Falling off the side of the post office at 1 in the morning walking home from a party at university and breaking my leg!

What’s next for you? Any big goals/projects?

I still have one more project at Helmcken Falls. I love that place and find it really tough not to go there every winter! I also want to see if I can climb 9a —I think that’s a good challenge for anyone.

Tim Emmett ice climbing
Ice climbing on Helmcken Falls, Canada. Photo: Wiktor Stupinski
Tim Emmett deep water soloing
Deep water soloing at Kornati Islands, Croatia. Photo: Simon Carter

If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner climber, what would it be?

Learn the basics of how to do it safely then go out and have fun. Explore the world. Climbing can take you to some of the most incredible places you can possibly imagine.

If you could give one piece of advice to a V15/5.15 crusher, what would it be?

That’s another good question. I think to share your experiences of how you got to that level with other people so that you can inspire them to test their limit too.

Tim Emmett climbing Dreamcatcher in Squamish
Tim projecting Dreamcatcher (5.14d), Squamish. Photo: Jamie Finlayson

How has climbing made you into the person that you are today?

Well it has completely taken over my life. I am incredibly grateful and have to thank climbing for that. It’s taken me all over the world and introduced me to thousands of people. It has given me a very different life to the one I’d have if I never discovered it.

I’ve learned many things—some of which are how to overcome challenges, cope with fear, and how to help other people with their lives and their climbing. I get a lot out of sharing this with others and helping them progress. I enjoy making people happy.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Life is a composition of the experiences you have before you die. Make the most of it while you can—you never know how long you’ve got. Live for the moment and appreciate reality!

Tim Emmett climbing in Chamonix
Climbing in a Chamonix Ice Cave. Photo: Jon Griffiths

We send a huge thank you to Tim for sharing his story with us. We wish you the best of luck in the future! Tim is supported by Mountain Hardwear, Black Diamond, Scarpa, Adidas Outdoor, and Juice Plus.

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