Favorite type of climbing (bouldering, sports climbing, trad, etc.):
Bouldering to push grades, Multi-pitch for long days out with friends.
When and how did you get into climbing and what kept you interested / fascinated in the sport?
I have been scaling low angle rock formations since I was a kid with my dad. Often we would rappel down the vertical sides of the formation and this is where I likely developed my love of being on the sharp end and enjoying the views one is able to take in while out in nature. Technical rock climbing didn't begin for me until I was 19 years old when I took an "into to climbing" class in college. The instructor was also the owner of the bouldering gym and ignited my passion for the sport. I was always more of an introvert growing up but for some reason climbing helped me to find my place in our commnity plus the culture was so supportive I became more extorverted as I continued to push my limits. Climbing has allowed me to feel a deeper connection to the world in which we live as well as a part of the history of the sport when I am able to send a test piece in a crag or establish a new line that will be enjoyed by the generations to follow. For me climbing is the purest way in which we are able to test and push limits where every route or grade is equally as rewarding as those who share in the experience and adventure.
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?
I always looked up to Jason Kehl as someone who brought a lot of energy and expression into his climbing style, his passion for crafting a unique persona lead to my adoption of crazy face painting/colorful wigs and bright leggings which I wear in climbing competitions. As for myself, I feel like I have been able to represent a positive role model for my fellow outdoor entheusiests by embracing Leave-No-Trace practices and fostering an inclusive climbing community where we positiely support each other and clebrate one anothers diversity/background and the resposibility all climbers have to protect the areas we love for sustainable access into the future. When I hear that someone looks up to me for a particular stance I took on the efficacy of an issue impacitng the commnity or sport I feel honored and hope that influence is shared to bring others to support important initiatives as well.
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?
Mile stones are a tough one as I see evey year that I am able to continue to climb as a gift. The friends I have made through climbing were at the time perhaps of an un-recognized importance, for the role they would later play when I was faced with some adversity and the support they provided which helped to see me it through. After 7 years of coming in second place for the costume contest at Psychadelia, (a black light fun comp at the Spot Gym in Boulder), I was thrilled to finally take home first place! Every time I am able to stand on the podium for a climbing competition and am joined by those who I train with at my home gym it brings an even bigger smile to my face.
What were your greatest failures / setbacks / injuries? How did you cope with them and how did you come back from them?
What set my climbing back the most was when I joined the ARMY, crazy as it sounds, a climbers physice is not the same as the muscles you build while serving. I left the ARMY because of an injury sustained when jumping out of an airplane during a night mission while a thunder/lightning storm was over the drop zone. This resulted in two slipped discs in my lower back, and one of the reasons I am not an avid runner anymore as well. It took a few years to regain the strength I had pre army as I had to redevelop the climbing specific muscles and a fair amount of physical therapy to abait the daily pain in my lower back.
What is your favorite climbing related story / experience?
Climbing related story:
For a few years I worked in a climbing gear shop helping to outfit those just getting into climbing as well as those who were looking for gear to take their climbing to the next level. In addition to gear we also sold guide books for many local and nearby crags. I worked in the shop prior to serving and after coming back from the ARMY I got into guiding rock climbing trips for some added weekend income. One day I picked up a climber for a full day of climbing who was visiting from Canada for a work trip to Phoneix, AZ. In our conversation as we drove out to the crag I learned how this fellow had only been to Arizona once before and had at that time purchased his first pair of shoes from a gym gear shop next to his hotel. He was so excited to come back to Arizona and finally climb outdoors, especially at an area he had read about in the climbing book he bought back when he purchased those first climbing shoes. As he opened the guide book to start listing off the routes he was interested in getting on, a receipt fell out of the pages, he remarked how he couldn't believe it was still stuck in between the pages after so long. Then he read the name of the shop aloud and I laughed as it was where I used to work all those years ago. I asked what the name was on the receipt of the person who sold him the book, low and behold it was me! Couldn't believe the coincidence, what were the chances that after 8 or so years we would cross paths again. This reminds me that everyone we meet in this life is in some way a part of the bigger picture and the challenge is taking the time to find the connections we all share.
My favorite climbing experience:
When I was in highschool, my friend and I went exploring in the Superstition Mountains east of the Phoneix valley. We started out on the trail and took it to the summit of the mountain, then decided to come down another way by followoing a wash that we could see from the summit. As we made our way down we came across a 100 foot tall totem pole formation rising out of the wall of the wash, because it was not along any established trail and because of how winding the wash was as it followed the canyon, chances were high it had only ever been seen by a handful of people. During my birthday this year I was talking to my climbing partner about how I might be getting to old to ever climb the rock totem I had discovered 18 years prior. A week later he surprised me with plans to again find the totem and possibily bag the first accent, he thought he might have found the canyon it was located in from my story by researching a map of the area later that evening. It took us a few hours to hike out the long way around the formation of the Superstitions and up the canyon but we did indeed find the totem rock! In climbing up the formation I knew that it had never been climbed before as I was able to clean a lot of loose rock from the face so that it would be safe for future ascents. It is an experience that I will always remember as one of my favorite adentures and first ascents.