We recently had the chance to interview Alexander Megos, a strong, powerful climber and bouldering champion who is flying up the ranks, grabbing the titles as he jets across the world. Alex recently did a repeat of Double Demerit (V14) in Sydney...don't forget to check out the video on his Facebook page.
Editor: We’re honored to speak with you and appreciate your time, Alex.
Alexander Megos: Thanks a lot! I’m honored to be interviewed by you!
Editor: Thanks. Let me first congratulate you on your recent big win (1st place) at the Climbing Works International Festival! You flashed 4 out of 4 problems in the men’s final.
How did that feel? It must have felt amazing!
Alexander Megos: Thanks! Yes it definitely felt amazing. I didn’t expect at all to win. The field of climbers was huge and very strong and since I don’t really participate in any competitions anymore I don’t have that routine and confidence. Normally the climbing style in competitions is as well different and I’m not really used to it, so I was more than surprised to flash all 4 boulders in the final.
Editor: Last year you won Climax Magazine’s prestigious Olga Award, what was that like? Can you tell us the significance of that award?
Alexander Megos: The award should be an equivalent to the “Oscar”. I guess its not that popular as the Oscar and even under climbers not known everywhere, but still it’s a big honor to be rewarded with the Olga. The Climax doesn’t give the award to anybody. Just good climbers get one, so that’s a sign for me that the Climax thinks I’m a good climber. Thanks for that!
Editor: So that's what the Olga is. You taught us something new!
You mentioned a very valuable training tip in Epic TV’s Episode 377, and it sounded like it would really help out a lot of climbers. You talked about climbers training the pulling muscles and not the pushing muscles…can you share that tip with your fans in a bit more detail?
Alexander Megos: Most climbers just train the pulling muscles as it seems more logic, because climbing revolves all around pulling on holds. But its not that simple in reality. Of course pulling is very important in climbing, but still you need to train the whole body, so as well the pushing muscles to keep the body in balance, which is essential to prevent injuries. And its not just that.
Training the antagonist as well makes you a better climber in terms of strength and mostly shoulder stability, which gets more and more important the harder the climbing gets (that’s mostly when the holds are further apart and you have to be stable in the shoulder and able to lock of till your hips. And that’s when the pushing comes into the game as well).
Editor: Well observed. You worked on a number of projects in Bishop, and everyone’s talking about your 3rd ascent of Lucid Dreaming (V15).
You sent Direct North (V14) on the Grandma Peabody boulder. Then you flashed Maze of Death (V12) and made the ascent of This Side of Paradise (V10). It is said that Lucid Dreaming had really caught your attention.
You mentioned that it was your longest and hardest boulder project ever. What are your thoughts on this particular project, and how many days did it take you, Alex?
Alexander Megos: Yes, Lucid Dreaming definitely caught my attention! First of all it’s a really cool looking line and I just liked the fact that its so pure and simple. There are just 3 holds and 3 moves between them, that’s it.
I just wanted to prove myself that I’m able of doing it so I said I’ll invest as much time as I need to climb it. That was my first real project and it took me 11 days in total. 3 days in November, when I got really psyched on it and decided I want to do it and then another 8 days when I came back in January to actually do it.
Editor: That's awesome. So, what was doing projects in Ceüse like?
That’s such a beautiful area. How did you feel about climbing there?
Alexander Megos: Ceüse is a very historical place with lots of famous routes which are part of the history of climbing. First to mention here is definitely “Biographie”, the first 9a+ worldwide climbed by Chris Sharma in 2001.
Trying to add some new routes to such a place was just a great feeling! Doing a first ascent in Ceüse definitely means a lot as there are 100s of strong climbers visiting and everyone as well tries the projects there. So they are usually pretty hard and exist for a longer period of time.
In the end doing one of the projects over there which had been existing already for many years was really cool and memorable for me. And of course apart from the history over there the actual climbing is amazing!
Editor: What is your favorite crag to climb back home in Germany?
Alexander Megos: That’s too hard to answer. My home area is the Frankenjura where the crags are usually very small with very little routes. But we got literally 1000s of them. I think by now its around 3000 crags with over 12,000 routes in total. There are so many good crags I couldn’t decide ;-)
Editor: Amazing! How old were you when you were drawn to climbing? And where was this?
Alexander Megos: I started climbing when I as 5 years old. My father brought me into it. I was dedicated to it straight away but I think I got really psyched on climbing and stopped doing most of the other sports to be able to go climbing more often when I was about 12 years old. This was all in my home area and around my home town Erlangen, which is close to the Frankenjura.
Editor: That's a pretty young age, no wonder your winning comps! Who was your first climbing teacher?
Alexander Megos: My first climbing teacher was the teacher of my first climbing group, which was when I was 6 years old. Her name is Claudia Bezold. But the trainers I worked most with were (and still are) Patrick Matros and Dicki Korb. I’m working with them for 8 years now.
Editor: Is your family supportive about your climbing career?
Alexander Megos: My family is the most supportive they can be! It already started back in the day when I was still doing competitions and my parents would accompany me and drive with me through Europe to all the different comps. They as well went with me to further destinations to support me and watch me climb. That hasn’t changed since then.
Now I’m traveling mostly alone to all the different climbing areas but they sometimes visit me from time to time when I’m on a trip. My father for example came to the US when I was there last November. And the fact that they let me go my own way and stand behind me is very supportive as well. Most parents would probably tell their kids to go studying and get a “real” job, as climbing is not recognized as a normal job like it is with soccer…
Editor: I recently interviewed the great Reinhold Messner and he told me something fascinating.
He said “Fame is a help and a trap”.
How do you keep your private life separate from your public side?
How do you handle fame, Alex?
Alexander Megos: Yes fame is definitely a help and a trap. You have to be careful to not loose the focus on what you are doing. The good thing is I don’t think I’m really famous so its easier for me. I’m just a normal guy who can climb a little bit better then 99,9% of the other climbers. Nothing that special about it.
Editor: Is there a certain outdoor project/projects that have always intrigued and challenged you here in the US?
What do you think of El Cap and all the attention it has been getting?
Alexander Megos: Lucid Dreaming was the project, which really caught me in the US. No other projects till now…Well, I think all the attention El Cap and the Dawn Wall is getting is definitely deserved. It is a milestone in climbing and for sure the hardest multi pitch route for a very long time.
Editor: Which climbers do you find most inspirational?
I ask because each has a particular strength, like you do, which may resonate with fans.
Alexander Megos: I think every climber can be inspirational! If it’s the raw power of a Jan Hojer, the efficiency of an Adam Ondra or Dai Kojamada or the technique of a Dave Graham. Every climber has something you can learn from.
Editor: What is your advice to young climbers who look up to you?
Is it your ability to stick with a problem and never give up? Is it your power of endurance?
Or is it your sense of patience that makes you a strong and balanced climber?
What would you say to them?
Alexander Megos: I would say to them the most important thing in climbing is having fun. The rest will come on its own. But no matter what you are doing you should enjoy it, otherwise there would be no point in doing it.
Editor: Where would you love to visit and climb around the globe?
Utah, Africa, Spain, South America?
Or maybe the legendary Himalayas? What is your ideal climbing destination?
Alexander Megos: There is no ideal climbing destination. There are 100s!!! I already climbed in many places but there is still an endless amount of new places to discover! I’ve never been to South America and just now I’ve been the first time in Asia (Japan) for climbing. There are as well some areas I want to go back to because I liked them so much.
Editor: Here’s an important question that truly defines a climber.
Why do you climb?
What has climbing given to you and to your life?
Alexander Megos: I climb because climbing is the best sport on earth. It’s the whole package, which makes it so appealing! You go climbing with your friends, you hang out together you are outside in the nature. Its not just a sport, it’s a whole lifestyle.
And within the climbing you’ve got so many different things and challenges. There is bouldering, sport climbing, multi pitch climbing, trad climbing on granite, sandstone, limestone, slate, volcanic rock. It can be overhanging, roof, slab, vertical. You can basically climb in every country on this planet and wherever you go through the climbing you’ll always be able to connect to the people and find new friends.
Editor: What are your thoughts on the preservation of nature and climate change?
Alexander Megos: For climbers and the climbing its very important to try to preserve the nature and do something against the global warming. Many climbing areas are in regions where the balance of nature and life is endangered. As areas get more and more popular all climbers have to pay attention to take care about the nature and try to cause no unnecessary harm to the environment.
Editor: Okay, let’s mix it up a bit…on rest days, what kinds of books do you read and what kind of music do you like to unwind to? What’s your favorite movie?
Alexander Megos: I like many kinds of books. From biographies of climbers till crime and science-fiction I’ve already read many books. I like many types of music: Hip-hop, Rap, Pop,…My favorite movie is Bad Boys 2 ;-)
Editor: Thanks for spending some time with us, Alex. It was great to learn about your climbing history!
Please come by and talk with us again, your fans love to hear from you.
Alexander Megos: I’m the one who has to thank you. So, thanks for the interview till next time I would say ;-)
Editor: Absolutely! You’re always welcome.
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook Page: 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
All images © Nick Fletcher (Thanks for the excellent images, Nick!)
Check out all the fantastic videos of Alex on his Facebook Page:
On the Cover:
Winner of the CWIF 2015
Cover Date: April 6th, 2015