Alannah Yip has what it takes to be a world champion. She is driven, strong and committed to pushing her limits in the sport of competitive climbing and beyond. While she attributes some of her recent climbing accomplishments to maintaining a positive attitude, it’s been her serious approach to training and becoming the best that has brought her to where she is today.
Based in North Vancouver, she is the Canadian champion in bouldering and lead. Last summer was her first year of competing at all of the stops on the World Cup circuit. As team Canada prepares for the 2017 World Cup circuits, Yip finished 2016 ranked 20th in the world.
Focus. It’s an important part of any competition. Deep breathing and pretending to look super serious are two of my favourite techniques. #justkidding #ineverlookthisserious #imalwaysgrinninglikeanidiot #getyourheadset • Thanks 🙏 @annettescheung for the amazing photo!
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In 2015, she wrapped up a bouldering trip to the Rocklands, where she climbed two V10s, Caroline and No Late Tenders. “I surprised myself when I sent Caroline on my second session. It represented the culmination of all of the training over the past few months in Switzerland and my overall improvement.” She is currently pursuing a degree in mechatronic engineering at the University of British Columbia.
Yip hopes to get her iron ring, which is a ring you receive when you graduate from a Canadian university with an engineering degree. “I took a break from climbing after high school for about a year, before realizing that life kind of sucks without it,” she said noting that finding a balance between school and training is important.
Holding the title for both lead and bouldering in Canada is a big deal and something that came as a surprise to her, “I didn’t expect it.” She knew she had a good shot in bouldering, but was amazed at her strength during the lead competition, as she hadn’t been training for it. “I was kind of like, if I make finals, I’ll be happy. Then I was leading after qualifiers, leading after semi-finals and I was like, oh, this is interesting. Then I came down off my finals route and someone said, ‘You won, congratulations.’ It’s pretty cool.”
As I leave Switzerland, I'm feeling nostalgic for the first World Cup of the season in Meiringen. Making semi finals right out of the gate in a European World Cup was a big confidence boost for me, and it was especially cool that it was in my second home country! 🇨🇭 🇨🇦 Although I won't be gone long, I'll miss this country and especially the people 💙💚💛💜 Photo by @tenorwill
Yip first started climbing at the Edge Climbing Centre in North Vancouver and began competing at age nine. She was encouraged by Sean and Jason McColl, friends of the family. At the time, Sean was on his way to becoming one of the most successful comp climbers ever. As her love for the sport flourished, Yip began to explore the different gyms in the Greater Vancouver Area.
Aside from Base5, she tried to visit as many other gyms as she could, noting how the exposure to different spaces helped her refine her skills, “Being able to climb at all these gyms, with so many setters has helped me learn technique on different wall and hold styles. It has made me a much better climber than if I had just trained in one gym.”
In 2015, she studied abroad in Switzerland and trained with climbers on the Swiss team. Training with international climbers has helped her prepare for her first World Cup tour, which she plans to continue. “I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going,” said Yip. “I hope to pursue it for a while, a few years at least. I have a good role model, Sean McColl is not too shabby.”
In the spring of 2017, Yip won the National Bouldering Championship at Rock Jungle in Edmonton and went on to win the Tour de Bloc Championship at Up the Bloc two weeks later. Her first World Cup of 2017 will be in Chongqing, China.
Could not have finished this weekend off in a better way – flashing all 4 finals climbs to win my second Open Boulder National title in a row! Also congrats I suppose to @mccollsean for flashing all his final climbs as well to secure his 10th National Title 😜 I'm not going to lie, despite knowing I was stronger than ever I came into this comp really feeling the pressure because I won last year. So I'm really happy that I was able to turn all of that off for the finals round and just focus on climbing. Mega thanks to everyone who made this possible, from @rjf_climbing to the crack routesetting team led by Simon Parton, and my amazing and supportive team from @climbbase5gym @jj_mah @derekrunions @tosh_sherkat @kyle.murdoch8 @hojin.jo.75 @ayesha7625 @seanbea @em.celk @trinitymetolius @katie.mah @head.wilson and Si!
These days, she mostly trains with the adult performance team at Climb Base5. She said that when she was on the junior team, she appreciated how transparent her coaches Matt Johnson and Andrew Wilson were with their training. They would explain why the team had to do certain movements and exercises. Now Yip is helping to coach future champions and using Johnson and Wilson’s approach.
She is always committed to improving her own climbing and knows that mental training is an important aspect, saying she’s been working on staying positive throughout competitions. “I had this idea that I performed better when I was happy,” said Yip. “That means that I should be just trying to smile all of the time. Mentally, I’m a good competitor. If I mess up on a first problem, it doesn’t affect. I’m able to let it go.”
Many of her skills have been important tools for personal climbing since heading outdoors. She started rock climbing north of Vancouver when she was in high school. As soon as one of her climbing partners had a driver’s license, a group of them would pile into the car and head north to Cheakamus Canyon. It was a learning curve transitioning to real rock from plastic, but soon they were all sending their projects.
“I’d like to check out other bouldering areas in the world,” said Yip. “I’ve never been to Hueco. I’d like to spend a bit more time in the different areas in Switzerland and Spain and hope to send a V11 by the end of the year. As far as ropes go, I’d like to project hard climbs in Squamish.” In 2015, she spent 70 days climbing outdoors and about as much in 2016.
She talks about trying traditional routes and hints at attempting big walls in the near future. As the country’s champion climber, Yip is preparing to represent Canada at many of the World Cups in 2017.
With Sean McColl in her corner and one of the best attitudes in the sport, it seems she is just getting started and has a long climbing career ahead. Maybe one day Yip will help push free climbing standards on big walls around the world with an iron ring in tow.
– Written by Drew Copeland for the August/September 2016 issue of Gripped magazine and updated for 2017.