Juliane Wurm is done. After a decade of competition climbing and eight World Cup seasons, the German climber is trading the plastic, crowds and stress of competitions for the freedom and variety of the world’s boulders and crags.
“Generally you can climb comps for a limited time span of your life, from about age 13 to 30,” Wurm told Rock and Ice. “But rock climbing is always possible, so that’s probably why many comp climbers at some point switch to only climbing outdoors.”
Wurm, 24, began climbing in the gym at 13. Within a year she earned bronze at the World Junior Championships in China. She won her first European World Cup gold in 2007 and the Vice Junior World Champion in Sydney, Australia, in 2008. Since entering the World Cup circuit at 16, she has earned 10 podium finishes and the bouldering world title in 2014. In Germany, she was the national champion for both lead and bouldering in 2009 and bouldering again in 2010.
“Not so much has changed in these past eight years,” Wurm said. “When I started competing there were comps that were amazing–super well organized, big crowds, good boulders–and comps that were so-so. The boulders probably got a little harder and the field got stronger, but the rest pretty much stayed the same.”
As a goodbye to the comp-climbing scene, Wurm will compete in Friedrichshafen this weekend in the final German bouldering cup of season. She won the first two German cups in Cologne and Hannover earlier this year and hopes to win the series.
Wurm decided to make the switch to outdoor climbing to have more time for her family and medical studies and to be free from planning around the competition-climbing calendar.
“I tried to see my family on weekends when we didn’t have comps or training,” Wurm explained. “But, since I did comps for a long time, I missed a few family events and birthdays.”
Wurm said she won’t miss the waiting in airports, on planes and in isolation that comes with competitions. She will, however, miss her World Cup friends.
“Hanging out with Anna Stöhr, Melissa LeNevé and Shauna Coxsey and having girl talks, long boarding together, and eating ice cream,” are some of her favorite memories of the past eight years, Wurm said, along with the times she gave her best performances and saw her training pay off.
Initially, Wurm’s friends and family were shocked by her decision. “They knew me as a comp climber for so many years,” Wurm explained. “But then [they] understood. They know how fatiguing and stressful comp climbing can be.”
In the upcoming weeks Wurm plans to spend more time climbing outside in Europe with her boyfriend, also a World Cup competition climber, Jan Hojer, but she has no big trips on her list yet.
“For the moment I’m still very psyched to push my limits in training and on the rock,” Wurm said. “In a perfect world, comp climbing would get super big, with huge crowds, big sponsors and tons of prize money, while rock climbing would stay as it is: natural, with not to many climbers at the crags and good weather.”
Photos by Eddie Fowke of The Circuit. For more photos and information about the competition climbing scene, visit his website: TheCircuitClimbing.com.