Editor: I thank both of you for taking the time to do this interview, it is certainly an honor for me, as this is the first ever Father-Son climbing interview our magazine has ever produced.
Karel, when did you first develop an interest in climbing?
How old were you?
Karel Skopec: 1960. I developed interest in climbing, but didn’t try rock climbing again until 1962 when I was with my older brother. I was 16 years old when my brother took me climbing, but my father told me if I continued to climb he would burn my climbing rope. My father always wanted me to focus on judo, to prepare for the European Cup.
Editor: Joe, were you ever able to visit the places your father climbed back home in the Czech Republic?
Would you like to?
Joe: Yup! I've been to Czech Republic a few times. The climbing is great, if you are seconding. Every climb I thought I would fall to my death from the run out's or from the old ring bolts breaking. But signing the book on top of each tower climb is very rewarding and seeing my father's signature from back in the day was pretty neat.
Editor: Karel, what was it like climbing in the years when you began?
How different were the equipment and climbing shoes compared to what Joe uses today?
Karel Skopec: The equipment was very poor. The rope was very heavy (one guy just carried the rope), carabiners were steel, shoes would only last 3-4 climbs and then you would have to re-sole, harness – (laughing)...no harness, we just wrapped the rope around our chests, if you fell you didn’t have much time to live due to the rope squeezing your chest not allowing you to breath. We belayed with the rope underneath your arm, if someone fell you would burn your hands and body, we used only rope knots for gear.
Editor: That's pretty incredible!
How has your father influenced your climbing style, Joe?
Not many are fortunate enough to have fathers who are their children’s first instructors!
Joe: My father never wanted me to push myself in climbing, but instead wanted me to enjoy the outdoors and where rock climbing takes you. My first 10 years of climbing, I never pushed myself and just enjoyed the outdoors. Later on, I started training and enjoying the outdoors, which is still making me love life.
Editor: What are your favorite places to climb back home, Karel?
Karel Skopec: Tisa, Ostrov, these are my favorite places in The Czech Republic.
Editor: Karel, what do you think of how far your son has come with all the hard work and dedication to climbing? He really gives it his all and is very diligent about the art.
You must be incredibly proud of him.
Karel Skopec: I’m very proud he is just climbing. I’m proud that he can enjoy the experiences I had of traveling the world for climbing with friends and family.
Editor: Who taught you how to climb, Karel?
Karel Skopec: My brother, he taught me everything I needed to know.
Editor: Karel, how does climbing affect your emotions?
How important has climbing been to you in your life, so that you enjoyed your sport?
Karel Skopec: It made me happy, I've always felt better in the mountains then the city. Harder and higher the climb, the more relaxed and happy we were.
Editor: A truly beautiful answer.
Thank you both for your time, we appreciate the insights very much.
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Admin of the Facebook page: 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Images © of the Skopec Family Collection, or as otherwise designated.
A special mention and thank you to Erika Skopec, who was extremely helpful in providing the images.
On the Cover: An Exclusive
Karel Skopec & Joe Skopec -
A Climbing Legacy
Father to Son
Cover Date: August 23rd, 2015