Introducing Nancy Kretzschmar, our new KidsZone coach

We are thrilled to introduce Nancy Kretzschmar, our new KidsZone climbing coach, who brings a wealth of climbing experience and a passion for fostering the next generation of climbers. Originally from Chemnitz, Germany, Nancy’s journey into climbing started at a young age, and she has explored various climbing areas across Europe, from the Elbe Sandstone Mountains to the German and Italian Alps. With a background in youth leadership and outdoor activities, Nancy is dedicated to sharing the joys of climbing with children and instilling values like problem-solving, teamwork, and respect for nature. Join us as we learn more about her climbing adventures, coaching philosophy, and her thoughts on the vibrant climbing community in Malta.

Alpine day out. Photo: Nancy Kretzschmar collection

Why did I come to Malta?

For the last two years I lived in Hamburg. I was searching for a new job opportunity. After a few interviews, I received an offer for an office job here in Malta. I see Malta as a great opportunity for me to use my English skills from my studies once again, while also having the chance to meet a lot of international people and engage in various outdoor activities in my free time.

What do I think of the climbing and the community in Malta?

The climbing community in Malta is very open and you can easily find a bunch of people to go climbing with. However, there are still many people who are new to climbing in Malta. This makes it difficult for me easily trust climbing partners – a lot of people think they already know everything about climbing, but still have a lot to learn. For me it would be great, if we have more possibilities to raise a higher awareness that climbing is potentially dangerous and just some small mistakes can cause an injury.

Favourite routes?

I don’t think I can pinpoint one favourite route – There is one route called The Piano in Germany in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, that one I like to be able to climb at one day. I already had some tries on it so far, but never ended up being able to finish it and stand on top of the rock.

Topping out on Sandstone towers. Photo: Nancy Kretzschmar collection

In Malta my favourite climbing areas are in Mistra and Wied Babu.

About me:  Where I come from and my experience climbing there.

My hometown is Chemnitz, Saxony, located on the eastern side of Germany. I also started climbing there in the local climbing hall.

The first time I climbed outside was at the Ore mountains: a granite rock area good for top roping and trad climbing. Climbing really caught my passion in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains – here I also did my first leading outdoors.

The Elbe Sandstone Mountains will always be my favourite climbing area, because it is a special kind of climbing and it feels just great to sit on top of the rock, being able to look down and enjoy the view from the summit after finishing a difficult route.

I’ve climbed in Frankenjura, some areas around Leipzig, in the north of Germany and at the German and Italian Alps, where I got into alpine climbing and multipitch climbing, which I also enjoy a lot.

For me climbing is the perfect hobby because it gives me a good overall fitness, I can spend the whole day outside in nature and find people that have the same passion about life.

Overall, I like a lot of different outdoor activities. So, if I am not climbing, you can find me out kayaking, scuba diving, slacklining, mountain biking, skiing or hiking.

How did I get into climbing?

I always wanted to climb as a kid. I climbed up trees, went hiking and did some Vie Ferrate in the alps with my parents at an early age. At the age of twelve, I became a member of the youth climbing club in my hometown, where I got to know many people my age, all sharing a common love of climbing. We would meet once a week to train and climb together; and go out to climb on nearby crags when we had time at the weekends and school holidays.

All smiles at the summit. Photo: Nancy Kretzschmar collection

My background to coaching and working with children

After I finished high school, I spent a work and travel year in England, where I ended up at an Adventure Camp and became an Activity Instructor/ Group leader. This involved leading school groups through a lot of different outdoor activities, like challenge trails, climbing, Aero ball, mountain biking and a lot more.

When I started my studies back in Germany a year later, I joined a climbing group for young adults. As it is in every climbing club, they also were searching for new youth leaders for the kids’ club. Since I already had experience in guiding kids’ groups and got a lot of climbing experience, I took on the offer from my trainer to become a youth trainer as well.

I coached my first group of kids in Würzburg in 2019 – they were a group of greatly mixed boys and girls from age 13 onwards. When I finished my studies I got my first job in Hamburg as an office worker. For that I needed to give up my kids group in Würzburg but also found some reliable hands to pass them over to.

In Hamburg I started a completely new climbing group for children from 10 years onwards. With this group we played a lot of different climbing related games to get them into technical training. We also taught them how to safely belay and climb with each other.

I really enjoyed my time at the weekly group meetings and seeing the kids develop their climbing and social skills. Seeing a kid smiling after they finish a difficult route makes me really happy.

I want to show children what climbing is all about. I am so grateful to my former coaches for giving me the chance to be a part of their childrens’ group. They showed me the passion for climbing and nature. Through my role as a youth leader, I aim to pass on my knowledge and love for climbing, emphasizing that it’s much more than just a sport. Climbing promotes problem-solving skills because every route is unique, it strengthens team spirit, it helps build trust because you must rely on your climbing partner, you learn to treat nature with respect and so much more. If you get hooked once, you will not want to stop doing it.

Nancy scored 3rd place in our 2023 National Bouldering Championship. Photo by Inigo Taylor

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