Who are you, and why are you in Nashville?
I moved to Nashville for grad school about 4 years ago. I'm a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Materials Science at Vanderbilt. My research is focused on materials for next generation batteries and water desalination. I should be finishing grad school in the next 6 months and am hoping to find a job that can keep me here. I love the size of the city, the food, and of course the proximity to Chattanooga and the Red.
Why do you Climb or How has climbing changed your life?
I started climbing 14 years ago at a tiny wall at the Jewish Community Center in Syracuse, NY. The community and personal challenge are what sucked me in. The first week I started there was a competition and I got dead last! I couldn't do a single move on a single climb. It didn't matter though because I had a great time and met some fun people.
Climbing has given me an excuse to travel throughout the world and to move to new cities knowing I have a community to connect with. Before grad school, I spent a year living in my car and tent in 7 different countries. Without climbing I wouldn't have had those experiences and made so many friends along the way.
Do you have a favorite Route?
My favorite route I've ever done is Serpentine at the Grampians in Australia. It's a 35 meter mixed pitch up perfect sandstone with committing moves and just enough run out to make it exciting. I sent it on my last day in the Grampians and topped out right when it started raining. There also isn't an anchor at the top so I had to take a victory whip.
My favorite route I haven't sent is Tom et Je Ris at the Verdon Gorge in France. Jonathan and I did a trip there last September and unfortunately, I had to leave before I could send. It didn't matter though because climbing on the 60-meter tufa on the edge of the Verdon Gorge was an amazing experience. I'll hopefully go back some day to finish it.
What's rad about your life right now, on or off the wall?
Lately, I've gotten really into making bread by hand. I've loved learning the science of baking bread and of course, it's been delicious.
Most nights of the week you can find me in the awesome training room at CN East. I have one main goal at the Red River Gorge this fall that is keeping me motivated during the long hot summer.
Any shout outs, current projects, or anything else you want to share with the community?
I'd like to give a shout out to Scarpa. I've been a part of their Southeast grassroots team for a few years now and it's been awesome trying out all their shoes. If you like seeing climbing photos you can find me on Instagram at @sharekeith.