Since the day I stepped off the ground for the very first time, I knew something was going to be different about my life. I was 15 years old. I consider myself very lucky.
For better or for worse, I've been climbing obsessively for over 15 years. That's roughly three to five days a week of actual rock climbing for 180 months, 780 weeks, which equates to more than 3000 days of climbing, give or take. Many of those days have been in far away lands—everywhere from India to Australia, Malta to Scotland and Mexico to Alaska… the list goes on.
These days I live in Squamish, British Columbia, with my lovely lady Lydia Zamorano. Squamish is a mellow Canadian coastal town, north of Vancouver and south of Whistler. Here we are surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful mountains, but more importantly for me, we also have some of the highest quality granite on the planet. I spend most of my days here seeking out first ascents, repeating any remaining classics and dreaming of countries and crags I plan to visit.
Although I love all types of climbing, I get the most excited about very long, sustained single-pitch lines. And not just any single-pitch line—I am consistently drawn to the aesthetics of the line: a laser cut crack, an orange water streak, a sweeping corner, a jagged arête, something that makes it both unique and marvelous. If that climb is gear protected as well, it's all the more reason for me to be attracted to it. It's about the complete experience, free climbing gracefully, still doing powerful moves but maintaining a sense of calm, trying to keep it all together for an extended period of time, placing gear adds insecurity and uncertainty, and it demands the mind’s complete, undivided attention.
When I finish a route like this, I feel truly satisfied, as though my appetite for climbing has been satiated, if only for a short time. Lucky for me, there are more than a few great pubs in this town, and they are never more than a five-minute drive from the carpark. If I don't see you on the cliff, then perhaps at the bar.
Birthday? November 15th, 1979
Year you first started climbing? 1995/96
Three climbing achievements you are most proud of?
• Cleaning and freeing the Squamish Buttress North Face Var (5.9)—took us five days of hard work.
• Free climbing the Cobra Crack (5.14)—took three seasons and nearly 30 tries
• Keeping up with Andrew Burr and Alex Honnold on our 16-hour free ascent of Logical Progression (5.13), 28 pitches, Mexico.
Memory/story of the first time you ever went climbing? The first time I went climbing inside, I got scared and asked to be lowered from the halfway mark. I was only 15 feet up a 30-foot wall, I wasn’t tired, but I didn’t trust the equipment yet. I didn’t know enough. The first time I went climbing outside, I skipped school for it.
Favorite climbing area and why? Too many to list, why would you ask such a question? I have many favorites, for many different reasons. But, if I really had to choose just one, as though I could never climb anywhere else again, I would choose Squamish, BC, HANDS DOWN. Because we have more climbable rock here than almost anywhere else I’ve ever been, because it’s accessible, because it’s beautiful, because we have a community here, because we have V14 boulder problems, 5.14 crack climbs, 5.14 multi-pitch climbs and 5.14d sport climbs, because we can climb all year around. Because it never gets old.
Best climbing experience? My favorite days are a combination of the long days, but with good friends, like the time Tommy Caldwell and I linked up 3 classic multi-pitch free climbs on the Chief, or the time Alex and I sent on the 2800-foot El Gigante, or when Will Stanhope and Johnny Simms and I climbed The 2000-foot buttress of the Steinbok Arete, Anderson Valley, BC. But most recently, I had an incredible day on the rock here in Squamtown, I sent a 5.13+ R as my warm up, free soloed a 5.12 twice, then ran a lap (with beers in hand) up the Squamish Buttress with seven of my stone monkey friends, just beating the sun down. It was perfect.
Worst climbing experience? I’d like to say I haven’t had one and for the most part that’s true, but 10 years ago I let the rope slip through my hands and I dropped my friend to the ground. I ran underneath him to break his fall and we both ended up in the Las Vegas Hospital. In the end we were okay, climbing in a few weeks, we got very, very lucky, but the moment haunts me forever.
What's your dream trip? Where? With who? My dream trip would be a one-year sailing climbing adventure along the coast of the Mediterranean from Spain to Israel, with my girlfriend Lydia Zamorano and who ever wants to stop in and tour with us for a couple weeks.
Guilty pleasure? Chocolate, deep fried fish, Drum, wine, coffee and beer. Hey you aked.
BD gear you use every time you go climbing? I use my green, printed BD chalk Bag, every single time, without compromise. But I can’t go very far without the other stuff as well, like my Chaos harness, an ATC-Guide, a Shot pack and a stack of OZ draws. Now we’re moving.
Something that annoys you while climbing? We all have to learn to deal with things that are less than ideal. Guides and clients, crying baby’s, boom boxes, barking dogs, spray, trash, trundling, crowds, and at some point or another, I’m sure I’ve been a contributing factor to some of these things (obviously unknowingly), so I will say, I’m working on exercising patience.
What/who inspires you in climbing? Honestly, it’s always the ones who choose to climb because it makes them happy and they have fun doing it. That’s it. It’s that simple. The more I climb, the more I just want to have fun.
Favorite après-climb meal? A Parkside Hamburger with half salad, half fries.
Favorite climbing flick? Ha, ha, ha, oh boy. Okay, I really loved the footage of Sharma on Realization and on the Dreamcatcher, two of the best moments ever caught on tape. I also enjoyed the short documentary of Derek Hersey, the famed ex-pat free soloist who unfortunately died in Yosemite in 1993. It was as inspiring as anything I’ve ever seen.
What's in your iPod? Nirvana, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix, Lady GaGa… you know, the classics.
Strangest place you've ever woken up? Once I woke up on a freezing cold concrete floor in a hallway in Banff, Alberta, another time it was on a beach in the middle of a construction site in Victoria, BC.
Strangest person you've ever woken up with? Alex Honnold.
Three things you'd never roadtrip without? My toothbrush. A coffee mug. My iPod. Superstitions? Nope.
What's your dream job? Seriously, this is it. Climbing, Writing, Photography, Travel.
How are you training when you are not climbing? I do yoga, and I hang on my fingerboard a lot. It works better than the gym.
If you could steal one thing and not get caught, what would it be? A 50-foot RV, or a 50-foot boat, whichever model had the biggest bar fridge.
If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive) who would they be? Wolfgang Gullich, Crazy Horse of the Lakota People, and Albert Einstein.
Which would you prefer: power of flight or invisibility? FLIGHT. BOOOO-YA.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings? I do.