A person that climbs is a climber. They identify as such. They might also be a school teacher, engineer or banker, but chances are, they’ll lead with
the climber part.
However, when female climbers become mums, they often become ‘only’ mums. They lose the climber part
of their identity.
But climber and The North Face athlete, Caroline Ciavaldini, wanted to
“Society says you’re supposed to forget yourself and just be a mum. Yes, I’m a mum, but I’m also a climber. I wouldn’t be Caroline without either one of them.”
And that’s the focus of her new film, Baby Steps. It’s a personal journey following Caroline in the last few months of her second pregnancy to a few months post-partum. It’s her story, but it’s one she hopes will resonate with other parents.
Blessed with strong visions and all-around technical skills, Caroline dedicated her early career to competition climbing. She is now leading an exciting new chapter in her life, travelling the world and sampling the endless diversity climbing
TOP 3 CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
1st in the IFSC Climbing World Cup Chamonix in 2011
Winner of the Coupe de France Bloc de la Reunion in 2011
2nd in the IFSC Climbing World Cup South Korea in 2011
Caroline says that this film, which also features Caroline’s partner in life, parenting and climbing, James Pearson, is different to their other films because it’s more real, less “happy every after”.
“We are basically the first generation of female climbers who are having babies and want to keep climbing. So, it’s a completely new thing. We want to give tools and solutions by sharing what is hard and what worked for us.”
The “us”’ is the important part. Change doesn’t happen until everyone is onboard. And that includes dads.
“This shift is only possible if men are involved. Nowadays most men will say they are hands-on, but it doesn’t mean they are actually doing half of the work. It’s hard for men to know what to do really, because their dads weren’t really doing it. They don’t have role models. James has to invent a very different dad role to the one his dad had.”
Four months after giving birth and Caroline is desperate to get back to climbing. But second time round, she’s better at listening to her body and giving herself time.
“I’m doing super well now. I’m working with a trainer who is an expert in post-partum recovery. I was able to climb until I was eight months pregnant at a very low level. But now, it’s almost harder because my stomach muscles aren’t strong and I still feel very floppy. I know, this time round, that my body is delicate and I need to listen to every small signal more.”
Caroline says she’s still miles away from what she was and she’s not certain she’ll ever return to her pre-motherhood form, but that doesn’t bother her. While she still manages calculated risks, she thinks things have changed since becoming a mum. Her children depend on her. But she wants to emphasise that they depend on James, too.
“Women are criticised when they do adventurous things, but men aren’t called irresponsible if they go on expeditions to Everest as fathers.”
This film is a steppingstone on the journey towards changing preconceptions and parental stereotypes.
It’s about readdressing imbalance.
Aside from the film, Caroline will be sharing tips and exercises for climbing during and just after pregnancy on her and our social channels, so keep a look out for that. Meanwhile, watch the film Baby Steps.