For Chris, climbing is about the setting—getting out into stunning country. After that, the true climbing, it’s the Line. Chris wants to get into things that are summits, blocks that are as shapely as the best peaks. Shapes that are elemental and appear impossible: holdless arêtes, slabs, great refrigerators.... For him, the total package of climbing—the going to, the movement, the finding of new lines, the eventual realization (or continuing mystery of)—this is Church. This is an exercise, a ritual both holy and ridiculous. Deadly serious, transcendental and laughably fun.
Hometown: Bandera, Texas
Currently Living: Boulder, Colorado
Height: 5’9 ¾”, 2 ¼” ape index.
The Big Island, V15 Fontainebleau, France
Partage assis, V13 second ascent, Fontainebleau, France
The Right, V14 FA Boulder, Colorado
1%er, V14 FA Mt. Evans, Colorado
The Dagger, V14 Cresciano, Switzerland
Airwolf, V?, highball, Indian Creek, Utah
Arcangel, V?, highball, Indian Creek, Utah
When did you first start climbing?
I started climbing in Durango, Colorado in 1994.
What do you most enjoy about your sport?
I got into climbing because I wanted to get to great places: the little tree on a ledge up high, a windblown summit at the end of a long mixed gully, the flat top of a boulder just above the autumn leaves. I’ve always enjoyed exploring, wandering, ambling around. Climbing gave me points on earth to visit, something to travel for, something to look for.
How do you define success?
A good time, relaxed, focused, respectful of the space and people around us and respected in our own space, as we all should be. Clean, no ugly marks left on the road behind.
What are you most proud of, either in life, your sport or both?
I’m probably most proud of my determination in my climbing. When I decide to do something, it’s what I do, despite the time and effort it takes. I pick my projects based on an intrinsic aestheticism. I want to be a part of them, not just climb a number. So that’s very motivating. It makes the pursuit very personal, though sometimes overly heavy.
Who are your heroes?
Fred Nicole, Klem Loskot, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann
What inspires you?
THE LINE. The shape. The setting. The quiet.
What are your hobbies outside of your sport?
I like riding my little dirt jumper through the woods and desert—technical stuff and mellow jumps. I like to write, love to cook. I’m kind of a foodie. I worked in kitchens and in landscape construction for years; I really enjoy fiddling around in the garden, moving rocks and timbers, planting stuff. I’m also pretty psyched on videography; it’s neat how you can communicate so much in a shot of a few seconds, where writing it out would take pages.
What are your hidden talents?
I prefer they remain hidden, thank you.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
So many things…. A doctor, a designer for Lego, a hostage-rescue commando, a pilot (Top Gun was out), a writer, a climber…. I’ll never forget the first time I saw climbing on National Geographic: I wanted to be there, in that cold, high up on that wall. It seemed to embody everything I wanted in life. I played “climb K2” with legos for months afterwards, and slept with the window open to let the cold in.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be, and why?
I’d be luckier? No wait. I’d have a magic carpet.