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Gosia Lipinska Interview

Gosia Lipinska Interview by Brenda Marx

What is your full name?
Malgorzata Lipinska

How old are you?
29

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Poland, but have lived in Cape Town since I was 2 and a half.

Gosia Lipinska interview

Gosia at the top of the Devil’s Tooth, Drakensberg. Photo by Robert Dalgleish

Where are you living now?
In Cape Town in a rambling farm house on a horse farm in Constantia.

What work do you do?
I’m studying at UCT as well as some part time lecturing.

What did you study?
Well, I haven’t stopped yet…I’m doing my PhD in Neuropsychology.

How many years have you been climbing?
Almost 10, can you believe it.

Gosia Lipinska interview

Thank God Ledge, North-west route of Half Dome (25), Yosemite. Photo by Hector Pringle

How did you get into climbing?

I was always an outdoorsy kind of person and had wanted to try climbing as a kid, but just never really got a chance (rock climbing anyway – I often climbed trees, walls, and on top of roofs.  I was the official ‘ball-fetcher’ for our family games of cricket – I knew all the neighbours’ roofs intimately).  After school I went on a gap year to Scotland and volunteered at an outdoor education centre for 6 months.  They had several high-rope and belay orientated activities so I picked up some belay and rope skills.  I even managed to go climbing once or twice.  I knew that was what I wanted to get into, so when I got back to Cape Town I got a job at CityROCK – to kill two birds with one stone – make some extra bucks while studying and learn to climb.  So I essentially learnt how to climb at CityROCK, and through the people I met there.


What’s your favourite climbing discipline (sport/trad/bouldering)?

Hmmmmm, in true Gemini style, I’m a bit of a fence sitter – I love trad and sport climbing.  I love the big adventure, epic exposure, camp-side stories and deep friendships that are born from trad climbing.  I also love the pure gymnastic fun and challenge of sport climbing.  Another aspect of climbing I like is mountaineering – slogging somewhere remote, pulling on grass-tufts and doing what the purist would call climbing on Weet-bix (it’s not really if you choose your lines carefully, but it sometimes looks that way).  Again I think it’s about the adventure and epic positions you find yourself in.
I haven’t really got into bouldering before – perhaps at some point I will.

Gosia Lipinska interview


What’s the highest grade you’ve sent in each?

Sport: redpointed El Nino (30), on-sighted Magic and Loss (26)

Trad: redpointed the Horror Crack on Oceans of Fear (27), on-sighted Africa Arête (25)


Do you do any other sports besides climbing?

I trail run and occasionally dabble in mountain biking and body boarding


What is the longest time you spent working a route?

Probably El Nino – and not only because of the difficulty of the climbing.  I went to Oudtshoorn for 5 days once, when I was reasonably close to sending.  I just could not let the route go and tried it for 5 days in a row.  Even on the morning I was leaving, I had to give it a burn, in full December sunlight.  In the end I had bored myself silly climbing the same route for 5 days and did not get it in the end.  I came back some months later, totally relaxed.  I spent time having lunch, enjoying the company of my friends.
And I sent that weekend.  I learnt a valuable lesson on that route – you’ve got to want it, but you have to let it go too.

Gosia Lipinska interview

View from Mount Connes’s South-west Wall, Toulomne. Photo by Gosia Lipinska

What is your favourite climbing area in South Africa?

Sport: Waterval Boven

Trad: The Cederberg

Mountaineering: The Drakensberg


Which other countries/areas have you climbed in, which did you enjoy most and why?

I’ve hiked and done some easy climbing in several countries – Scotland, Poland, Malawi and Namibia.  I think my recent trips to Yosemite, Toulomne and Indian Creek in the States have been my favourite in terms of pure rock climbing.  The climbing in Yosemite is spectacular – there’s a reason why climbers from all around the world gather there.  Each time I went there though, I went with a great group of people, which in many ways made the trips so memorable.

Gosia Lipinska interview

Shortest to tallest, top of the North-west route of Half Dome, Yosemite. Photo by random tourist.

How often do you train?

I try to go to the UCT wall once a week and then get out on the rock as much as possible.  But it really depends – I go through heavy work periods where climbing is sparse and then periods where I can take a month or two off and really indulge.


Do you train specifically for routes?

If I have a project in mind I tend to find myself more at the climbing wall – usually to increase my power.  But I don’t follow a program or anything.

Gosia Lipinska interview

View at the base of the North-west route of Half Dome, Yosemite. Photo by Gosia Lipinska

Who are your climbing hero’s?

Mostly the friends I climb with – Clinton Martinengo for his ridiculous tenacity and Julia Wakeling for her continual psyche. I also really draw inspiration from Lynn Hill – what a climbing legend.

What motivates you?
Inspiring lines, beautiful places and close friends.

Gosia Lipinska interview

Gosia at the top of Astroman (23), Washington Column, Yosemite. Photo by Andrew Porter

What projects are you working (Boulder / Sport / Trad)?

Sport – I don’t really have a project at the moment, but I think I’ll go back to Firestarter now that Waterworld is climbable again (WELL DONE to the guys that fixed it up – you rock!)

Trad/Sport – Dream Street Rose – a classic test-piece at Elsies Peak in Cape Town.  It is bolted, but was originally opened as a trad route with one bolt and I aim to climb it in that style.
Ed’s note:  Congrats to Gosia for tradding Dream Street Rose on Monday the 26th of November!  Probably the first SA girl to climb 28 on trad!!

Gosia Lipinska interview

Four Strong Winds (25), Tafelberg descent gully. Photo by Hector Pringle

Tea or coffee?
Any trad climber will know – TEA!

What is the biggest epic you’ve had?

Hmmmm… I haven’t had one in a while :)  I’ve had several epics in the past though.  One that springs fondly to mind is my first and only ascent of Blouberg with Alex Eppel many moons ago.  The first couple of pitches of ‘Hey Jude’ (3 I think), are supposed to bring you to a large grassy ledge.  After 3 pitches we thought we had hit it and were doing fine on time.  However, we only really hit the ledge several pitches later at about mid-day.  We knew we were in trouble at that point.  Darkness fell upon us about 2 pitches from the top, just in time for the thunder to crack around us and the rain to start falling.

We found shelter at the top in some emergency shelter huts and decided to spend the night, partly because we feared ‘the maze’ – the walk off the top to the campsite.  We did star-jumps in the middle of the night to keep warm as we huddled.  Eventually it became light and we made our way down to a blood red sunrise – one I’ll never forget.

I hear you’re planning a trip to Patagonia in December/January. Tell us more about it.

The Yosemite crew – with some additions and subtractions (Julia Wakeling, Hector Pringle, Craig de Villiers, Tim Dunnet and I) are traveling to the Fitzroy area of Patagonia mid-December/January.  Between us we have pretty much no snow and ice experience, so we’re going to take it easy – learn to swing ‘em ice axes and try keep safe on the approaches and hopefully get some good weather days in to do some climbing – that would be grand.

Top of the Column, Drakensberg.

Top of the Column, Drakensberg. Photo by Dave Joyce

What work do you do?
I’m doing my PhD at UCT as well as some part time lecturing


Who are your sponsors?

Black Diamond, Beal, Saltic and First Ascent


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Gosia Lipinska interview

Gosia on the first crux pitch on the North-west route of Half Dome, Yosemite. Photo by Julia Wakeling

11 Responses to Gosia Lipinska Interview

  1. Justin Lawson Nov 30, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Congrats to Gosia for tradding Dream Street Rose last Monday! Probably the first SA girl to climb 28 on trad!!

  2. Yvette Nov 30, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Wow! Very inspiring!

  3. Margherita Introna Nov 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    You absolutely ROCK chicka! Well done. Inspiring stuff :)

  4. illona Dec 3, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    Awesome stuff Gosia. Besides your fantastic climbing I have always found your attitude inspiring.

    P.S. Come work Firestarter with me :)

  5. Anna Dec 3, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Wow, your achievements are amazing, courageous woman!
    Just looking at these pics makes my palms sweat, so I’ll just watch from a distance.

  6. Hector Dec 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    What a legend. Well done on Dream Street Rose!

  7. Steveb Dec 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    Wow, epic send on DSR! I’m sure you were a lot more graceful than Clinton in Tea for Three!

  8. Sam Dec 4, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Inspiring words, Gosia. Love reading about your local adventures…there’s so much adventure and so many challenges right on our doorstep. :)

  9. RobD Jan 24, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    And well done on Fitzroy! Go Girl!!

  10. Simon Trengove-Jones Jun 20, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    So Awesome Gosia!!! Well Done Keep them coming!!!!! So inspiring Indeed!!!!

  11. Piotr Jul 18, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Masz nerwy dziewczyno ;))
    Wielkie gratki.

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