Mindful climbing with Pierre Echaubard

Climbing with Pierre Echaubard
Pierre at the conference

Our 5 days at the Project World School Family Summit completely changed our plans for our travels through Thailand. It opened so many new opportunities that we would never have imagined. We met many fascinating people who have started amazing projects. We were so grateful to have the chance to change things up and spend a little more time with some of them.

One of the fascinating persons we crossed paths with was Pierre Echaubard.

Pierre slack-lining

At the conference he spoke about his project of creating a “Mindful movement”. Teaching kids how to connect their mind, physical body and breath together in order to develop strength and confidence during playtime in a natural environment.

There was immediately a connection! We loved the way he interacted with adults and kids and decided to venture down to Krabi to give our family the chance to experience this hands on with him.

Mindful climbing

We planned a morning climb with Pierre and his daughter Luna in a place where Luca could have a good time too, although the two us were not going to climb.

gentle warm

Our morning started with a gentle warm up to awaken the mind and body. Pierre guided us in connecting with our bodies through our breathing and letting our energy circulate through our breaths. For a moment the kids felt a bit awkward by all this. I think secretly they wanted to just go explore, since we were immersed in nature. I’m not sure if it was the words he used or simply the movements of his body in demonstrating them what to do, but they were hooked shortly after!

As Pierre explained, “when you climb you can be incredibly strong, but when you “climb well” you are aware with your feet of all the small details surrounding you. A little twist of your body might help you gain a better stretch to move up more.” Before climbing he feels it is also really important to do some slack-lining, which forces you to be inside yourself, to be centered.

What is Slack-linging?

pierre and mass

Slack-lining is the act of walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is in tension between two trees. It is a way to understand how to center yourself.

When you take your first step on the line, your body is tense, you feel unsure, although Pierre is right there holding your hand the whole time. After you take that step, the tension is still very present, in fact the line keeps on moving pretty wildly. Then you remember to breathe (actually Pierre reminds you many times), to follow the movement, to stop fighting your tension, a bit like dancing with the line. You can finally let go and start moving.

I thought I was never going to be able to do it, I thought I was not flexible enough, trained enough. I was wrong, Pierre guided us and we were all able to walk the whole way. Once you get down from the line, the feeling of satisfaction is unexplainable!


Time to start climbing

Pierre free climbed up the mountain to anchor the climbing rope to a spot at the top of the route for the kids. I loved watching how fluid his movement was as he went up. As he told Cosimo later, “when you practice something a lot, it becomes a very natural movement for you”. By having a solid anchor point and a taut rope, you’re minimizing the distance you fall if you slip off the rock, so this is a very important part of preparing the route.

Pierre preparing the kids

He than taught the kids how to make the knot that secured them to the harness. This process helped them understand that they were safe so they can remove the fear from the equation, they will not fall! I could see how comfortable they felt as soon as he reassured them. He also started giving them some guidance on how best to get up to the top. Of course Luna at only 6, is already a little expert at climbing, so she went up really fast, just like her dad!

First climb challenges

The first climb was bit of a challenge for Cosimo, Emma and Mass. They had done it in indoor places before, but actually touching a mountain is a whole different story! As Pierre explained, “your life is depending on the rock, you move to find the way to connect the best with it.” So after encouraging and guiding them for a while he decided to follow them up. Mass jumped in and helped belaying (pulling in the slack as they progress and hold the rope if someone falls), while Pierre climbed up to be closer to them while they tried to problem solve their way up. Which they successfully did by themselves!

These are a few of the words he told them while he was guiding them on their way up, in order to help them focus on how to get to the top.

  1. Better 2 small steps than one big one: there is no rush, take your time and analyze the best option for your climb. I think you can apply this to life in general!cosimo climbing
  2. Trust your feet, release some of the grip: it isn’t about how strong you are in puling yourself up, but rather on how you move your feet on the surface to find the best way up.
  3. Let go, observe and adapt to the right attitude: let go of all your thoughts and worries, get in the moment and observe what is in front of you, don’t overwhelm yourself but simply analyze what would be your best way up. Emma got stuck at one point and although she was listening to what Pierre was suggesting to do, for some reason she felt that it would not work for her. So after a moment where she was clearly evaluating her options, she went the opposite way and got up. She followed her gut, what felt right for her and it worked!massy climbing
  4. Problem solve your way up: I watched them from the bottom of the mountain and it felt like putting together a puzzle, every step in the right direction completes the image, in this case every step completes the route to the top! emma troubleshooting
  5. Enjoy it, once you get to the top, take it all in. Such a satisfying moment, you have to admire what you came up for! Mass went up too and he stayed there for a while completely enjoying the moment.
Mass reached the top

Second climb

Second part of the climb was on another side of the same mountain. It was more intimidating at first because it looked higher.

second climb

We all watched Pierre climb up to anchor the climbing rope to the top and we were speechless…..we were all wondering the same thing “were they all going to have to climb up like he was?”. He went really high, this time he could not free climb but needed to have Mass as his belayer. He needed to climb with the rope and I think everyone was getting a bit nervous because he kept on going up! But he was actually just anchoring the rope higher, so the kids could have a better swing when they were coming back down.

This climb felt a bit easier to get a better grip as they went up. Or maybe they were warmed up from the first one and they felt more confident, so they were all becoming better at applying all the things that Pierre had taught them. Both Cosimo and Emma were taking their time in trying to find a way up, which they were comfortable with and keep on moving up. Of course Pierre was there guiding them the whole time.

climbing second side
swinging down

The best part of this climb? Of course it was the way you went down: swinging! It was so much fun that everyone went up twice, forgetting how tired they were!

Take aways from this experience

What can I say more, it was an amazing day in nature, our kids and Mass challenged themselves in an activity that we don’t do everyday. They learned the importance of breathing and of finding their balance to move along in a challenging activity like climbing. We all got out of our comfort zone for a while and loved every moment of it.
Pierre, Luna, Mass, Cosimo, Emma & Luca
Another great take away from this experience is the importance of the person that guides you through it. When you are learning something new, you put your trust in the person teaching you. That person is you reference point in that moment. What they say, how they lead you through the process is so important in building your confidence. It is not only about the activity but most of all about how you connect to the person teaching you and how passionate they are about what they do.
So if you want to practice not only climbing but “Mindful movement”, be in nature and have fun, you defiantly need to meet Pierre Echaubard here in Krabi, Thailand!

Click here to see more of our posts from Thailand!!!

Check out the lovely hotel we stayed at Krabi Green Hill Pool Villas!!

Pierre & Mass

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  1. Pingback: Our Project World School Family Summit 2018 experience - The 5 World Explorers

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