Starting out as a talented rock climber, Freja has rapidly become a formidable and well travelled all-rounder who's as happy on Alpine, ice and mixed routes as her latest trad project.
I’m 26, half Irish, half Swedish. With my dual-nationality and growing up in different places I have continued to search for those contrasts by spending a lot of time travelling between different climbing destinations and bouncing between different climbing disciplines. Despite living a stone’s throw from Ireland's famous sea cliffs, I didn't discover climbing until I moved to the Alps for a ski season when I was 19. When the snow melted, myself and a couple of friends went to the local crag. I haven’t looked back since.
Beginning my climbing career in the climbing mecca of Chamonix, I was young and naïve enough to assume that the whole Alpine climbing thing was just what everyone did and I might aswell jump on the bandwagon too.
I dove head first into every form of climbing all at once, and try my best to follow the seasons and what type of climbing they have to offer. In the winter I love to ice or mix climb, in the spring I’m probably testing myself on a project and in the summer questing up Alpine route. It feels important to me to switch between the different forms of climbing as there are new challenges and things to learn with each style. I have always held an attitude of “anything is possible” and through climbing I can channel that energy. I love shivering under an icefall, sleeping on a faraway ledge, climbing an Alpine wall or simply just a magic day out cragging... But really, despite enjoying being challenged physically and mentally, it's about the connection with my partners and sharing an experience".
Alongside being devoted to climbing and alpinism, I hold an equally deep passion for encouraging women in the outdoors. I hope to thorough my endevours, inspire women (and men!) of all ages and walks of life to get outdoors and challenge themselves. Founding the Womens Rock Festival in 2022, I believe it is important to give back to the climbing community and create an educational and safe outlet where women can celebrate the mountains, nature and most importantly each other.
The routes that mean the most
Cosmiques Arete, Chamonix
This was the first alpine route I ever did and it is something I will remember forever. It was one of those “this is my calling..” moments which changed the course of my life. We bivvied on the glacier beneath the night before, climbed the whole of the next day and topped out in the evening, entirely depleted of energy but absolutely buzzing. I'll never forget being surrounded by high and wild mountains all day and finally feeling like I have found my place in the world.
Route Canal, FA, Avellano Towers, Patagonia
In 2018 I went on an expedition to Patagonia where we climbed a new route on the south face of the Tooth in the Avellano Valley of Northern Patagonia. I had not been climbing long and the experience of traveling to such a remote place and climbing untouched rock as a novice climber and expedition-goer allowed me to dream big for the future and become inspired for what was possible. If I can, anyone can!
Electric Avenue, E8, Bohuslän
This was my first ”hard” tradclimbing route and something which encompassed everything I have learned so far in climbing. Dealing with exposure, doubt and fear whilst simultaneously being forced to mastering your mind and believing, from the bottom of your heart, that you can do it. It was such a fun process that I’m really excited to do more of in the future.
The Nutcracker, M8 WI5+, Montana USA
Looking at the line from across the valley in Hyalite Canyon, with a daunting looking ice pitch hanging from the top I was nervous before we had even set off. I had never mixed climbed into an ice dagger before and certainly not at that grade. I always sort of thought it was for the hardcore dudes and not for me. Once I started climbing I loved every move and enjoyed feeling confident and playful on the ice!
Deep Blue Sea, Eiger
This was my first taste of technical bigwalling. Watching climbing films where climbers are filing skin, taping up and rehearsing moves hundreds of meters off the ground has always appealed to me and finally it was my turn. Dealing with the elements, high mountain terrain and exposure made it a full whammy of a challenge and definitely something I am aspiring to do a lot more of in the future.
Freja's Climbing Beta
Don’t be afraid to try. More often than not, we hold more apprehension in ourselves than necessary and are much more capable than we think. If you have a gut feeling you can do it then you probably can. So, go get it!
Make sure you have good chemistry and a good connection with your partner. Climbing is merely (for me, anyway) a catalyst for experiences and I always try to make sure I trust my partner and that we can have a laugh no matter what happens.
Be prepared, but not too prepared. Have a solid plan, bring a headtorch, enough food and stay within your means, but don’t be afraid of it being an adventure or a dive into the unknown. In the world we live in today, a great deal of information is available with regards to anything we do, in particular climbing, but I feel the spirit of adventure and exploration in climbing is important.
Fuel properly. Climbing in any shape or form is a hugely demanding sport and requires a lot of energy both mentally and physically. Don’t skimp on fuel or hydration and be kind to your body and mind!
Ask questions, head out with a variety of different people and soak up as much as you can. There is no handbook for how to climb or exist in the mountains, it is tricks of the trade that are passed on through people with mounds of experience and stories!
More from Freja
Freja Shannon on pushing her grade and breaking the E8 barrier on Electric Avenue, E8 6c, in Bohuslän, Sweden.
Something many, if not all, climbers and alpinists dream of is to establish their own route. To venture into the unknown, to be the first one to have had the vision for a new line, to make a mark on the world...
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