Interview with Mayan Gobat Smith


How would people close to you describe you?

Driven, focused to the point of being oblivious to much else that is happening. Though working on being more relaxed and easygoing.


You’ve made the fastest free female ascent of El Cap, what does that achievement mean to you?

I am proud that with Libby I was able to bring the female speed record down to a respectable time, however, the achievement itself is not one that means the most to me.

What is your biggest motivation for climbing? 

Currently, I enjoy the challenge it provides (both mental and physical). I love the felling of moving efficiently up an improbable rock face and the exposure… But for a long time I believe these feelings were mixed with a lot of egos and a need to prove myself to the world.


You said in your interview voices of fear that you sometimes feel as though your intensity nob on life gets turned up to full volume, could you explain in more detail?

In everyday ‘normal’ life, we mostly move within a zone of security. We experience the full spectrum of feelings, but mostly (unless in a crisis situation) not to the maximum degree because deep down we know we are still safe. On an expedition, a speed ascent of the Nose or even to a smaller degree a runout trad climb, your life is in your own hands. Your decisions can directly result in success (survival) or death. On the Nose or a trad route I find that during the climb I do not have time to consciously think about this, however the feeling is present. Yet, on a remote expedition (for example in Torres del Paine) you are far away from civilization and constantly faced with the brutality of the elements. A simple task like going for a piss outside the Portaledge can be a fight for survival. Here every feeling is magnified and felt to the full.


What makes a place great to climb for you?

Quality routes, not too many bolts and no people… Definitely no crowds


You said on your website you want to inspire people to step outside of the preconceived norm, could you explain in more detail what you mean by that? 

I think that from the moment we are born we have expectations laid on us from society; how we should look, behave, wear and do with our lives. This is what I mean by the preconceived norm. By living a fairly unconventional life I hope to inspire people to d likewise, to look deep inside themselves and try to find what it is they truly want (or love) to do and not simply listen to what we have been told all out lives.

You used to compete in competitions but said you prefer climbing on rock, would you ever return to competitions and what would inspire you to do so?

I wouldn’t ever return to competitions anymore… maybe 10 years ago, but not anymore.


You do a lot of work in your community, helping kids, is this something you are passionate about?

I used to, but unfortunately at the moment I very little work with kids. however, I still give presentations and try to inspire people (young and old) through these and maybe it is something I will get back to in the future.


Do you think girls aren’t as encouraged to take part in extreme sport like guys are?

See above. I believe this falls under the category of ‘preconceived norm’. However, this is slowly changing and I do also believe that women in general are a little more sensible (cautious) when it comes to really dangerous sports.


How do you mentally prepare before a challenging climb?

I just try to breathe, relax and not put any stress on myself. My best red points often happened when I wasn’t expecting it and from this, I have learnt that mental pressure does not help me.

Quick fire

If you were not a climber what would you see yourself being?

I have actually returned to my first passion in life now and am working as a horse trainer. I am still climbing, but mainly for myself now and enjoying it very much!


What would 2019 Mayan tell her 20-year-old self? 

“You are an incredible person! Just be you and don’t worry what anyone else thinks about you”


If you were gifting a book to someone what would it be?

That depends on who…


Shout out to your sponsors

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Wild Country

Interview from Adventure issue 215

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