How Long have you been involved in the world of climbing?
I've been climbing for 10 years now. I began climbing as a freshman at the University of Georgia. I followed a girl I was interested in down to the belay class at the small top rope wall in the rec center. She never returned to climb, and I never left. Some of my favorite climbing memories are from that 40ft top rope wall and small outdoor boulder in Athens, GA. It's where I met some of my greatest friends, began taking outdoor trips, and it unknowingly shaped my life/career path.
I began route setting when Athens received its first real climbing gym, Active Climbing. It was unpaid work, but I loved it and as soon as I graduated at the end of 2009, I moved to Atlanta and took a job as one of Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center's initial route setters. My love for setting kept me engaged in the work despite a $400/month setting salary cap and a completely random schedule. As the industry and the gym grew, setting developed into much more of a real career opportunity and I decided to pursue it full time.
What led you to Climb Nashville?
After 5 years of setting at Stone Summit and a lifetime spent in Atlanta, I was ready for a change. I began speaking with Lance and Jamie regarding opportunities in Nashville. Initially, I wasn't so sure it would work out. I would be moving from a much larger operation to a smaller one in a city I had never even visited before. Despite some hesitations, I continued speaking with them and visited the gyms on Labor Day. I was extremely impressed with the setting crew, Climb Nashville's management, and the attitude of everyone involved with the gym. Ultimately, the desire to work for people who cared so much about the climbing community and with a crew that was so psyched on climbing led me to pack up my things and jump head first into a situation I really knew nothing about. It's only been a month, but I sure am psyched I did!
What ideas are you bringing to the setting at Climb Nashville - Any big plans?
I have tons of ideas for the setting program at Climb Nashville. I'm psyched to have been handed a setting crew that already operates very well together and in a well organized way. They seem to keep things running pretty smoothly around here. Initially, I hope to improve the setting/forerunning process. In addition to setting, I've spent the last 5 years as a head coach of the Stone Summit youth teams and provided several hours of private lessons to adults every week. Through coaching, I've learned much about how people of various heights, shapes, sizes, and abilities climb. It's my goal through setting to make every climb in Climb Nashville fair, yet challenging to all climbers and to improve the forerunning process to ensure consistent quality and grading across the board.
Beyond these initial changes, I have many more ideas I hope to implement in the coming months but for now, I am focusing on making the fall bouldering competition series as great as possible and getting to know more about what the gym and the Nashville climbing community needs. I encourage any climbers who have ideas on what changes they may like to see take place regarding the setting here to come speak to me. Feedback is always welcomed and encouraged!
Are you currently working on any projects?
I ALWAYS have some sort of project, somewhere. I recently ticked a few climbs I'd been trying up at the New River Gorge. I've done over 50 5.13's a few 5.14 routes this year which was always a goal of mine so right now I'm just enjoying climbing on different climbs of any grade without feeling any pressure to perform. There are a few more 5.14 routes I'm trying to finish up in the coming weeks including Transworld Depravity at the Red, The Jackal at Laurel Snow, and Voldemort at the New.
What are some of your favorite places to climb?
Undoubtedly, climbing in the South is some of the best anywhere! I've been all over the world and the bouldering in Chattanooga and route climbing at the Red River Gorge and New River Gorge is certainly world-class. Climbing in Spain is unbelievable, particularly in Oliana. I also love climbing in Squamish, BC. It's unfortunate that the weather window only provides 1-2 months of dry climbing every summer, but when it's in season, it's possibly my favorite place on Earth.
I have also spent a good bit of time bolting/developing/climbing in new areas around Chattanooga. Sometimes it's nice to get away from the crowds...There is tons of great untraveled rock in the area that will hopefully one day be open for everyone to enjoy!
What are some places on your climbing bucket list?
In this particular order...Grampians, Australia; Ceuse, France; Waterval Boven, South Africa; Frankejura, Germany
When you aren't climbing, how do you spend your time?
Since I've moved to Nashville? Eating hot chicken.
Seriously, though...I love cooking, sampling new foods, and local cuisine..and baked goods make me weak in the knees.