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An interview with Climb Mediterranean's founder Tania Matsouka

I consider myself a casual climber, taking breaks from time to time, so after not climbing for almost a year, I decided to visit Kalymnos for the first time, so I joined an amazing 6-day climbing and yoga retreat with Climb Mediterranean.

Climb Mediterranean is an internationally recognized rock-climbing school based in Kalymnos, since 2015. It offers organized climbing trips to the best climbing spots in the Mediterranean. Someone can choose from a tailor-made guided rock climbing course, to a multipitch course or to join a climbing and yoga retreat. The enthusiasm and experience of the instructors will help you learn and evolve your climbing abilities, to bring more awareness in your climbing practice.

Photos by: Climb Mediterranean photo archive 

Tania is a certified climbing instructor and a passionate adventurer... and an ex-computer engineer! Inspired by the beauty of nature and her love for rock climbing she decided to become a climbing instructor. Her goal as a climbing guide is to inspire others to “grow” through the challenging sport of climbing. She is also the first Cypriot woman qualified by the French National climbing school as a rock climbing guide. In 2016 she became a Stott Pilates Mat instructor.

Walking after a multipitch guiding course in Grande Grotta / Photo by: Johannes Zimmer
Walking after a multipitch guiding course in Grande Grotta / Photo by: Johannes Zimmer

On a personal note, Tania is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Too many people go to work wishing they didn’t have to, but Tania had the courage to change that for herself, she changed countries, quit her studies and finally created a living around doing exactly what makes her happy! As a person, she is a beautiful soul, kind and patient, thankful for every happy moment, always maintaining a positive attitude towards life. As a climber her knowledge, experience and love for the sport are so contagious, it motivates everyone around her. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced climber, Tania will meet you there and show you how far you can go to reach your full potential.

Let’s find out more...

  • Taking it from the beginning, could you explain how, when, why did a computer engineer become a rock guide?

I started climbing in 2004 and since then climbing was always an important part in my life.. I decided to become a rock climbing guide in 2013 while I was doing my PhD as an engineer in Grenoble in France. France was an inspiration in many aspects for me, I had an opportunity to develop my climbing skills, explore and discover that there are no limits within one’s path, but it’s all a matter of choice and attitude.

I knew becoming a climbing guide would be an exciting path to develop as a person and as climber. I enrolled in 2013 for the National French rock climbing guides program and managed to succeed. In 2015, I started guiding and teaching in different locations in Europe based in France. In 2016, I split my time between Kalymnos, Cyprus and France. My biggest inspiration was to transmit and share my love for nature and climbing with others!

  • What impact has climbing had on your life?

It helps me develop as a human being. I feel blessed for that.

Kalymnos / Sector: Arhi / Route: Dolonas 7b / Photo by: Kieran Duncan
Kalymnos, Sector: Iliada / Route: Dolonas 7b / Photo by: Kieran Duncan
  • What appeals to you most about your job?

Two things appeal to me the most: Being in nature and connecting with people. Helping people to improve, to achieve their goals and reach the top of a climb is very meaningful to me. Connecting with nature creates a feeling of lightness and humbleness. It grounds me!

  • What keeps you so passionate about climbing after so many years?

Climbing for me became a lifestyle, it has been my safe place, my workplace, my performance place, but also a place to connect with people. I think letting myself explore and allowed to exist in different roles, without having to choose to keep just one role throughout the years, has allowed me to enjoy every step of transformation in this beautiful vertical world.

Kalymnos. Sector: Vlychada / Route: Tufatango 7b / Photo by: Luca Santos
Kalymnos. Sector: Vlychada / Route: Tufatango 7b / Photo by: Luca Santos
  • What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a climber and a guide?

Finding balance, literally and metaphorically.

  • Have you ever dealt with people treating you differently because you are a woman in this field?

Yes, sexism does exist, but it has never discouraged me. I believe we still lack gender equality in our society and culture, not only in climbing but generally in sports.

After so many years of climbing and guiding in such a male-dominated environment, I learned not only to stand up for myself but also to support female empowerment through climbing.

  • Who inspires or motivates you?

Nature and people inspire me the most! Humble, supportive, calm and joyful people give me hope and warm my heart to keep on going.

Kalymnos, Sector: Panorama / Route: Lulu in the sky 7a+ / Photo by: Gloria Patricia Raminez
Kalymnos, Sector: Panorama / Route: Lulu in the sky 7a+ / Photo by: Gloria Patricia Raminez
  • Do you have any advice for anyone who might be interested in getting into climbing?

Yes! Just try it without any hesitation! Go with a professional and qualified guide for your first experience! Climb with supportive and experienced friends. It is safe and fun!

  • Have you set any personal goals for yourself right now?

I am focused on Climb Mediterranean at the moment, but I do have an open personal project for this year! Wish me the best!

A few more things about Tania....

Kalymnos, Sector: Arhi / Route: Castor 7a / Photo by: Ola Branhanam
Kalymnos, Sector: Arhi / Route: Castor 7a / Photo by: Ola Branhanam

Favourite climbing destination:

After Kalymnos comes Ceuse, France

Most proud moments in climbing:

- Performance: Sport climbing: Zawinul syndicate Kalymnos, 7c+

- Trad: Solanuts ED 6c+ Verdon

- Guiding work with Sasha Digiulian

- Receiving the Bi-communal Business Award from Stelios Foundation (Yoga & Climbing retreats Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot cooperation)

- Volunteering climbing for the organizations KETHEA (Therapy center for dependent individuals) and AMEA

Meteora / Route: Black Magic 6a / Photo by: Jim Thornburg
Meteora / Route: Black Magic 6a / Photo by: Jim Thornburg

Favourite quote:

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us” Nelson Mandela

Favourite books:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The alchemist, Life of Pi

Other things you enjoy:

Travelling, languages, sea, sunsets, tea and good chocolate.

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