A conversation with Lighten Climbing
Photograph by: Asato Iida
Interview by: Lucy Chen
August 14, 2023
1. Who is part of Lighten Climbing and how did it start?
Lighten Climbing is a climbing production and outdoor clothing brand developed by climber Shin Dong Chul (SHIN).
Based on the ideology of “BE LIGHT”, we are doing various activities so that you can experience a lighter body and mind through climbing.
2. What made you guys create a climbing brand?
When living in Korea, especially in Seoul, most people live a busy and hectic life with a set routine.
We lose our purpose and energy to live and wander. With the hope that such people can regain energy and joy in their lives through climbing or outdoor activities. So I came to create contents and products related to the outdoors.
3. How many years has each person been climbing?
We have a total of 4 members, 3 of whom are climbers.
Shin and John have been enjoying climbing and outdoor activities for about 11 years and Leo for about 8 years.
4. I see you guys have traveled to many different regions of the world to climb, do you have a favorite? If you don't have a favorite, can you describe how each place is different?
When I go on a climbing trip, I like to experience the harmony of the climbing environment and various cultures together rather than focusing on climbing alone. For example, when I went to Fontainebleau in France, I experienced a technical balance while climbing curved sandstone rocks that I couldn't experience in Korea.
Thanks to the taste of croissants and cheese from a local bakery, which I always ate right before climbing, and the sunlight on the white sandy ground even though it was a green forest like Korea.
I remember moments when I felt like I was at a resort.
Rockland in South Africa, on the other hand, has a dynamic and three-dimensional appearance because of the irregularly layered orange rocks. You can experience the movements, but more than that, I really liked the atmosphere as if the climbers gathered at the bar and camped together to enjoy the festival. I plan to climb more various places in the future, and the goal is to record it as a video.
5. What has been your favorite outdoor bouldering problem? Favorite outdoor sport climb problem?
I am considering a bouldering route called SKY (8B+) in South Africa as a project.
I like it because it's a short but intense and dynamic route made up of crimp holds.
6. Where is the one place you want to climb next? Do you have any outdoor projects you're working on?
We are doing a content called Rock Trip within the brand.
Because the members really like climbing, we plan to go on a Rock Trip overseas once a year no matter what.
Rather than focusing on climbing one route, the goal is to experience and feel various routes.
Next Rock Trip is planning to go to butter milk or yosemite in the United States to enjoy various climbing.
7. What are your favorite climbing gyms in Seoul?
It is a climbing gym called “Seoul Boulders”.
It is a climbing gym run by three co-owners, and it is a climbing gym that puts a lot of thought and effort into weekly weekly setting.
They also run a climbing gym with a lot of experience and charm, so I feel like I'm back in my hometown when I go there.
8. What is the climbing culture like in Korea? Is there anything you want to change about it?
Climbing sites in Korea are really close to the city. It's really exciting to be able to go and do some outdoor climbing within 30 minutes of work. And currently, a lot of climbing gyms have been created in Seoul in the past 1-2 years, but what I am concerned about is that there are many climbing gyms with no personality.
I'm concerned. There is nothing I want to change about the culture. I think all the courses are transitional because the level of awareness and experiences of climbers are getting richer.