Interviewed by Monique Forestier. Photos as credited.
Daila Ojeda is a well accomplished sport climber best-known for her hard ascents at Oliana, which include Fish Eye (8c), Mind Control (8c/+), El Gran Blau (8b+/c), and many more hard ascents scattered throughout Catalunya. Monique had the chance to catch up with Daila recently and ask her a few questions about her climbing and her future.
Onsight: Let’s start with a bit of back ground for those who don’t know you too well. Where did you grow up? What sports did you play as a child? And how did you eventually get into climbing? How old were you when you started climbing?
Daila: I am from Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), I was born there in a little village where normally people surf, there is not a lot of climbing there, it’s not a famous sport. When I was 18 I watched a little bouldering competition in my home town I fell in love with this activity, I fell in love specially with the women, I saw the girls, super feminine, beautiful, super flexible, like a cat, lithe. I made climbing friends from my village and every weekend would ask them to take me outside for climbing. Come on, come on, can I climb with you? I am super thankful to these people, they took me climbing, they set up top ropes for me and helped me climb.
Onsight: What did you like so much about climbing?
Daila: When I start it was just something new, especially to be outside, I love being outside for sport, like surfing. Others sports like football or tennis or whatever you are always in the same place but with climbing it is always different.
Onsight: So you moved from Canary Islands to be where the ¨real¨ climbing was, to Catalunya. Was it a difficult decision and what made you decide to do so?
Daila: When I started climbing, I realised that I wanted to be close to the rock, I wanted to climb you know, so I wanted to be close to the climbing. I met friends who lived in Catalunya also I met my boyfriend in this time, Dani Andrada and thought well maybe I can go there. This is one of the best areas for climbing and I decided to move there. And I thought I can always come back to Gran Canaria to visit my family, my friends, it’s close. So finally I have been here now for almost ten years. Good community and good place to live also, beside from the climbing.
Onsight: You know that you have inspired many females around the world with your ascent of Fish Eye in 2010, including myself. What was it about this route that attracted you to it?
Daila: When I try one route it is important for me to like the route, the line. If I don’t like it I don’t want to try. But this one was a long route and the style I liked, when I saw people climbing I thought I want to try this. My boyfriend then, Chris Sharma, he bolted the route and he said, yeah you have to try, he encouraged me. Also other friends they told me if you like the route and if you want to climb 8c then this one is solid 8c. It is good because a lot of the time with women, what happens is that you climb the route then people say it’s soft, it’s is easy, it gets downgraded. It wasn’t so important but I liked the style of Fish Eye and I wanted to see the limit for me now, so it would be good if people don’t say it’s easy later on. Fish Eye was the perfect route, the perfect moment for me to try and I was motivated.
Onsight: So when you did Fish Eye, did you then think differently about yourself as a climber? Did you feel confident that you could push it further?
Daila: Yes, yes. When I did it I thought I can do that, but it’s a new grade, like when I first climb 7a it was like oh I can do that, yeah now I can try harder routes. I felt super motivated and satisfied and proud of myself. You know you can do that and it motivated me and gave me confidence to try harder routes.
Onsight: What did you do to celebrate?
Daila: Nothing special, you know, but I remember going to dinner in Ponts, in the little village, with friends, having beer, nothing special but it was special at the same time.
Onsight: After Fish Eye you went on to do Mind Control (8c/+). Tell us about the process. Did the route come easy? Or was it a fight?
Daila: I don’t think it’s much harder than Fish Eye, it’s harder but not much harder. Before I went to do Mind Control I was trying El Gran Blau, for me it was not hard in the moves, but solid, hard for short people, and it was psychological. I tried it a lot, I wanted to do this route and I fell many, many times at the top. I thought about not trying this route anymore. But I don’t like this idea, I like to finish a project. I’m a little bit black or white. But then I thought maybe now I think I am a bit stronger and I can try Mind Control and leave El Gran Blau for the moment, for my mind. But in my mind I never thought I am strong enough to do Mind Control, how I can do that, because it is harder than El Gran Blau and I haven’t done that. But I knew I can do El Gran Blau and I can come back and thought also that it was super good training for Mind Control. I did Mind Control faster than El Gran Blau. Then when I came back to try El Gran Blau I was more confident.
Onsight: Fish Eye and Mind Control are super classic modern day test-pieces which have become popular with other women (and men) to attempt. You were the first woman to climb both of these routes and, as I said earlier, you accents have been an inspiration to me to try these routes. How do you feel knowing that these routes have become popular routes for the strongest women to try in order to push their own limits?
Daila: Well I feel happy for that. I mean when you climb beautiful routes you feel like everybody has to try this!
Onsight: Who is your role model? Climber or otherwise?
Daila: People who don’t have fear, not just climbers, people who just try and live their lives in the present, they like what they do and they are happy. Yes many other people but mostly my father. He was a really positive person, he told me, you have to be happy, if you are in Gran Canaria studying or climbing you have to be happy, now you have the time. He say don’t worry about things just do it. So I like this role model.
Onsight: So what do you do for climbing training? Do you write a program? Do you train on plastic? Do you use a finger board, do you campus?
Daila: When I started climbing I trained in the climbing gym in Gran Canaria, There are not many climbing areas and I was studying and I was working and had no time so I just climbed in the gym. I went there to train, not specific training I went there just for bouldering, do whatever with my friends. After when I came here, to Catalunya, I was just climbing outside. I don’t know if this works for everybody because many times you go to the cliff and you don’t know if you will be strong, or you have to rest this day. You may arrive and say OK I don’t like this moment I can’t climb today, I am tired. But for me it is important to be motivated more than stronger physically. If I want to try this route, because I love it, I try because I feel good in the route, sometimes I feel stronger in my body but it doesn’t work for me. So I think this is slow for getting stronger but it’s better for motivation.
Onsight: Last year you were plagued by a finger tendon injury, how did you manage the ups and downs of not being able to climb for most of the year? What training did you do?
Daila: Yes I tore my pulley. They said maybe you can have surgery or rest. So I decided to rest. It was a bad time but a good time. I realized that I was not happy not climbing. But I discovered that I needed to be balanced, to have a good life without climbing. Now I can do many other things in my life to be happy not just climbing. I that moment I went to Gran Canaria to see my family often, I went to skiing, I traveled more and almost every day I went running, it was good for my mind and good for my body. And now after one year I am happy to come back climbing but not like there isn’t anything else in my life. I am psyched for traveling to know other places, pushing my limits but also trying new areas, climbing not hard routes but different styles, different countries. I don’t want to forget why I start climbing.
Onsight: You must come to Australia.
Daila: Yes I would like to go there. Especially now I have completed one cycle of my life and now this is a new cycle, to travel with climbing.
Onsight: You have now relocated to Italy, where about in Italy did you go and why did you chose this particular spot?
Daila: Last summer I decided to go to Italy for a climbing holiday with my friends from Gran Canaria. It was nice for me to climb in another place, new routes, like when I first came to Catalunya. The people there are similar to the Spanish super open people. I met friends and I was traveling between Catalunya and Italy a lot, and I thought that I would live in Era Vella (our house in Catalunya) but when I went back there I realised that I don’t want to be here now. I have many important people and friends in Catalunya but not for living, I decided to go to Italy and change my life cycle and find a balance there, working, climbing, be more grounded than before. I feel good in my climbing and personal/sentimental life here so I am starting my new adventure in this amazing country!
Onsight: How does the climbing compare to Catalunya?
Daila: I just know few climbing places in Italy. I live close to France so I climb in both countries. I like the landscape, it has more mountains close, snow, you can do other things. I am psyched to know new places here!
Onsight: Have you been able to meet a positive climbing scene there?
Daila: Yes for sure where I live there is a nice climbing gym (Il Punto) the people there are super nice. There is a youth women’s team and I would like to coach them, they are psyched, I am psyched. Also there are a big climbing community here, Italian people are really psyched and motivated.
Onsight: What cultural differences are there in Italy compared to Spain? Do you speak Italian?
Daila: I try to speak Italian it is very similar to Spanish. I want to go to school also because in the future if I want to work there it’s important to know the language. It is a beautiful language and so I am psyched to learn. The best cultural thing in Italia for sure is the gastronomy; food and wine are super good here!
Onsight: You have a new project now at Andonno in Italy called Noi (8b+) it is described as ‘old school’. Tell us about this route.
Daila: Noi, it’s a super logic line, fisic moves and then one thin crack. When I came back from Brazil last year I hadn’t been climbing a lot so initially I didn’t want to try because its 8b+ and I was only climbing 7b in Brazil. But my friend, Barbara (Raudner) from Austria, she’s super psyched a real fanatic, she tried the route, Noi, and said venga Daila you have to try the moves. When you try the moves you get hooked, and I felt super good and I was very close to doing it but then we went for a little travel to Sicily. When I came back it was wet and cold. But now I will come back it’s dry again!!
Onsight: A climber of your calibre must have several financial sponsorships. How do you support your climbing lifestyle?
Daila: I feel very lucky because I have a lot of support from my sponsors, like prana, Scarpa now, Sterling ropes and Petzl who I have been with several years now. I have to say thanks to my sponsors otherwise it is not possible for me to do what I have been doing for many years now. Thank you to all!
Onsight: So you have recently signed on with Scarpa shoes, what is your favourite model?
Daila: I love Boostic! And now they have the new Booster S, this is super, super nice, it is comfortable and I feel a lot of precision. It’s a nice balance between being soft and precise. Now I can’t try any other shoes.
Onsight: Where next? What are your plans for this year?
Daila: I never know my future plans but I see the next short term plan is going to Italy and to make my life there. After I want to go to Catalunya, Sicily and make a summer trip to USA. Maybe also Cuba?
Onsight: Where is your favourite place to climb in the world?
Daila: Now Oliana. But there are so many places that I haven’t been.
Onsight: Many thanks for your time today Daila.
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