Blokfest Organiser, IFSC commentator and route setter.
Thank you to Mike for letting us interview him at Round 1 of Blokfest 2018 at Harrowall.
Who you are and what do you do?
I’m Mike Langley. I’m one of the main organisers of Blokfest, I’ve been a full time route setter for over 10 years and I’ve been climbing since I was 14 years old. I’ve now also done some climbing commentary for the International Federation and I’ve got heavily involved with the World Cups. All in all just fully involved in climbing.
What was your first climbing experience?
My first climbing experience was at Colchester University, when I was 14 years old, as a birthday present. From then I really, really enjoyed it and when I was old enough to drive a car, I drove myself to Southern Sandstone.
How did you know that climbing was your thing?
I always got in trouble for going climbing on trees, on houses and on anything I could find. After I persuaded my Dad to take me for my birthday I was instantly hooked. I just knew from then on that it was the thing I wanted to do.
Where is your favourite outdoor climb?
Everyone says it, but it’s definitely the best. It was Fontainebleau, south of Paris. It’s the best bouldering area in the world and it’s absolutely amazing.
What has been your proudest climbing moment?
I would say setting up Blokfest is a huge achievement for me and the people that we work with. To see 275 children here today, climbing. That’s not a personal climbing achievement, it’s an achievement in general for climbing. It’s amazing and it’s brilliant that so many people turn up.
But in terms of personal climbing achievement, I climbed an 8a boulder a few years ago. That was always an achievement that I wanted to have. I did it in Fontainebleau and went and did some others as well. So it was awesome.
What are your ambitions?
My ambition for climbing is to climb V12. I definitely want to climb V12 before I’m too old to boulder that hard anymore. I need to book a few holidays to do that, to actually go away. I got quite close when I went to South Africa a few years ago, so maybe I’ll go back there and try that.
Lead, Speed or Boulder and Why?
For me I’ve always been an all-round climber. I’m not very good at speed climbing but maybe I’ve got time to practice that yet. I started off mostly as a route climber, for years and years I was just on ropes and really enjoyed that side of it. But I realised to climb harder and harder routes I needed to get much bigger muscles, so I went to start bouldering. In 2010 I started bouldering solely, then went back to route climbing just recently with a bit more power. So I really enjoy all sorts of climbing, I’ve tried ice climbing, tried dry tooling, deep water soloing. I’d climb absolutely anything and everything.
What are your most liked and hated healthy foods?
I don’t like mushrooms at all. I don’t understand why anyone would eat mushrooms. I just don’t get what’s going on there. But I really like pizza. I especially enjoy going to Arco in eastern Italy. It’s an amazing climbing destination and it has the best pizza restaurants in the world.
If not climbing, what sport would you be doing?
I used to play cricket a lot. I used to play cricket from, probably, 11 years old to 18 and I played every single day of the week. I played for the national county and I really enjoyed cricket at the time. Then I discovered climbing and realised cricket was a bit rubbish compared to climbing. So it’d probably be cricket or some sort of extreme sport, but I’m not sure what.
Give us an inspiring quote (either yours or someone else’s).
“The best climber is the one having the most fun”. I think that’s something really important to stick to. I see a lot of climbers here and sometimes they can take it too seriously and they may be good climbers but they can’t enjoy themselves. And if you can’t enjoy yourself then you’re in the wrong game as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s really about going out there and enjoying yourself.
My other favourite quote is that “You can always do 15% more” which is a funny climbing quote. When you get pumped in your forearms there is always 15% more you can give on a route. If you feel like you’re going to fall off, just remember that there’s always 15% more.
See their website for more information about Blokfest
Interviewed by our contributors, Abigail and George Gent