Favorite type of climbing (bouldering, sports climbing, trad, etc.):
Trad climbing, Alpine rock climbing, Expeditions
When and how did you get into climbing and what kept you interested / fascinated in the sport?
My first time climbing was a guided toprope on a family trip to Yosemite when I was 8, but my brother really got me hooked in my teens. I love the challenge of climbing and I'm consistently impressed with the quality of the people I meet and the beautiful places it has taken me.
Who was your childhood hero and do you consider yourself a role model now? Does it influence you at all that other people look up to you?
A few of my first climbing heroes were Dean Potter, TC, Sharma, Lynn Hill and Fred Becky. Also, my parents as well for always supporting me and my pursuits. I don't really consider myself a role model, but I do try to live my life in a way that I am personally proud of. That's more important to me than whether people look up to me or not.
What were the most important milestones in your life so far, both in climbing and in everyday life? Did you immediately recognize them as such or only later on?
In climbing, I'd have to say the first route I opened was a major milestone, which quickly shifted my focus to route development. Another major milestone was joining Team Edelrid, a company with values and products I can really get behind. Also my first proper expedition to open big wall free routes was another big milestone. Those were all immediately recognized as important steps in my climbing career.
In life, I look back and realize that the shifts in my mindset and psyche level that occured from overcoming major injuries and surgeries were actually very important in guiding my direction in both my personal life and my climbing.
What were your greatest failures / setbacks / injuries? How did you cope with them and how did you come back from them?
I think my biggest setback in climbing was probably when I broke my back and both legs while skiing in 2009. Being in a wheelchair with both legs straight out for 6 months really changed my perspective. I had a humbling amount of support from friends, family, and the community during recovery. It gave me a huge boost in appreciation and motivation to really work harder to achieve my goals.
What is your favorite climbing related story / experience?
One experience that comes to mind was on the FA of a route that Greg Troutman and I opened on a tower in the Utah desert called "Whoa Dude!" The first pitch climbs through a band of very soft Navajo sandstone via a horizontal traverse, before climbing splitter cracks for 2 more pitches up to the summit. I vividly remember blindly shoving cams into the dirty crack at my ankles, shuffling sideways on insecure sandy feet, death gripping crumbly crimps. Down mantles, blind corners, sandy slopers and sketchy gear somehow led me to a small ledge where I drilled an anchor. Safe again! The name of the route comes from Greg watching me climb the pitch, then realizing that he now had to do the same thing... Whoa Dude!