Back in 2019, we were introduced to the world of extreme ironing, a sport whose top athletes basically just look for strange places to break out an ironing board and press a few items of clothes. Thanks to Andrew Fiouzi at Mel Magazine, we now have an inside look at this unlikely mix of hiking and chore-accomplishing by way of an interview with one of its finest competitors.
New Zealand’s Matthew Battley, the article tell us, first got into the sport back when he and friends from Auckland University tried to think up “the weirdest thing to take up a mountain” and ended up hiking their way to the top of Mount Ruapehu with an ironing board.
Ruapehu, we should note, is an active volcano “where 80-mile-per-hour winds whip across the summit” that has rocks hot enough that Battley and his friends could warm their irons on them.
By making the trip, Battley entered into a world of extreme ironing that’s existed for years and has become popular enough to warrant international tournaments like the Extreme Ironing World Championships, first held in Germany in 2002. Extreme ironers do stuff like, in one event, “[hang] upside down with [an] ironing board using ropes and a pulley mechanism.”
Battley is less interested in winning competitions than in “the sheer ridiculousness” of the sport, which might entail transporting an ironing board through forests, “inside an old lava tunnel,” or positioning it “halfway up walls or cliffs for some more extreme positions.” (A short video shows Battley doing his thing if you want to see what this sort of thing looks like.)
“I’m afraid that the iron doesn’t do a terribly good job of ironing clothes in the wilderness,” Battley told Mel, “but it’s a somewhat pointless venture anyway since you tend to put the item you’ve ironed back into the bag after the ironing anyway, so any gains are short-lived.”
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Still, even if this is a version of ironing that doesn’t even provide nicely pressed clothes, Battley is still very much into it. He told Mel that he hopes “to try ironing halfway up a vertical outdoor climb or underwater somewhere” in the future.
Read more about extreme ironing here or Mel Magazine’s entire Matthew Battley profile over here.
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