Most kids grow up with shopping malls, Monday Night Football and birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheeses. Athletics to them might mean club soccer and t-ball; the adventurous ones try out for the swim team. Growing up in the mountain town of Estes Park as the son of a mountain guide meant t-ball was for pansies, swimming was handy only if you were caught in a flood and adventure wasn’t an adventure unless there was at least one unplanned bivy.
As a professional climber I like to say that my gift in life is the ability to relentlessly beat my head against a wall. I live by the ethos that if you hit your head hard or long enough, it really feels good when you stop. As a teenager I spent my evenings training in grungy garages and basements with older smelly men… and the occasional misplaced cute girl (who never stuck around that long) with the hopes that I would one day be able to ascend a more difficult 100 foot artificial wall than anyone else in the room. I would travel to the sport climbing crags on weekends in pursuit of… numbers?
At the age of 17 I discovered the only reliable love of my life (as of yet) El Cap. I found peace and adventure while suffering in the sun and the wind. For over a decade El Cap has beaten me until I cry for mercy, and in the process I have free climbed 11 routes, including the two hardest big wall free climbs in the world.
In my quest to endure ever increasing amounts of misery, I turned my attention to the granite spires of Patagonia. Ninety percent of my time there has been spent utterly humiliated and intimidated. The one shining exception has been the first free ascent of Linea De Eleganza, 4000-foot 5.12c free route that was done with partners Eric Rhode and Topher Donahue on a continuous 50-hour push.
Year you first started climbing/skiing? 1981
Three climbing/skiing achievements you are most proud of?
- Free climbed two El Cap routes in a day
- Free climbed Magic Mushroom in a day (VI 5.14, 30 pitches), El cap, Yosemite.
- First free ascent of Linea De Eleganza (VI 5.12+ M7) Fitz Roy, Patagonia.
Memory/story of the first time you ever went climbing? My first memorable climbing achievement was when I was three years and I climbed to the top of a local Estes Park landmark called Twin Owls. My dad talked me into doing it by bringing a kite along which we flew off the top.
Favorite climbing area and why? Yosemite, Best rock, most impressive steep walls.
Best climbing experience? A week spent touring the Yosemite classics and introducing my wife to the place I love so much.
Worst climbing experience? Kidnapped for six days in Kyrgyzstan
What's your dream trip? Where? With who? My dream trip would be an adventure climbing trip combined with a beautiful beach surf location. Good friends are a must.
Guilty pleasure? Red wine, French food and In-N-Out.
BD gear you use every time you go climbing? C3’s
Something that annoys you while climbing? Harleys!
What/who inspires you in climbing? Tom Frost, Chris Sharma, people giving it there all.
Favorite après-climb meal? Three lines of coke… and a redbull.
Favorite climbing flick? The Dosage series.
What's in your iPod? Justice, Quantic, Felix Laband. Johnny Cash, Eminem, Ziggy Marley… just to name a few. A little of everything.
Strangest place you've ever woken up? Why would you ever ask someone that question.
Strangest person you've ever woken up with? You have gone too far…
What's your dream job? I am doing it.
How are you training when you are not climbing? Running, biking and lifting weights.
If you could steal one thing and not get caught, what would it be? Tom Frost photo collection
If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive) who would they be? Ghandi, Hitler, Attilla The Hun
Which would you prefer: power of flight or invisibility? I think I could get into too much trouble with the invisibility one, so I will say flight.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings? Nope