Mount Woodson, California.
With tremendous determination I gritted my teeth, felt all those sharp tiny crystals of granite dig into my fingers as I pulled like I’d never pulled before. Topping out a whole three feet off the ground, I was a thrilled-to-be-climbing four-year-old, with enough psych to blow Chris Sharma right out of the water. For days after my first time climbing I told anyone who would listen,
“I Clomb, I Clomb ROCKS.”
Ten years later...
The Los Angeles gym climbing scene was growing and a new gym opened near my hometown of Thousand Oaks. I was instantly hooked and exceled at climbing. Soon enough I’d joined the team, USA climbing, and thought about pretty much nothing but climbing.
My Coach at the time told me something I took to heart. Well, he told me lots of things, but the thing that has affected me the most as a climber was this: “You don’t ‘climb a grade’ until you can onsight it anywhere, on any rock type, any style. Can’t climb 5.12 crack? Sorry, you're not a 5.12 climber. Can't onsight a v4 slab? Guess you’re not a V4 climber”
So, when I went off to college, I took this approach to climbing. I mastered as best I could granite. Crimping, sharp rock, heinous slabs. After five years I was confident on granite so I decided to move a couple hours north to work on the opposite style: Limestone roofs. Drop downs, foot first climbing, foot cams in pockets and bicycles Lance Armstrong could never ride became a part of my vocabulary. I also started setting consistently. I’d dabbled a little, but I realized I could take the movement I was learning outside and recreate it, and I thought that was pretty fun.
Setting became a new challenge for me. I had a wall, a bunch of pieces of plastic, and an impact driver. Nothing could stop me. I organized competitions and soon started a climbing team—my own team and competition experience has left me with friends all over the country and memories to last—I wanted to give back as much as I could.
A couple of years ago I went on a spontaneous trip to Fontainebleau, France. Mind blown. I wanted sandstone in my life. I wanted to slip off slopers and learn to move my body weight. So I moved to America’s Mecca of sandstone: The Southeast. Since moving here last August I’ve ticked a couple of problems off of my life list, namely The Shield and God Module, among many others.
If it was possible to take some Stephen Hawking route and travel through a wormhole back in time to Mount Woodson on that fateful day and tell myself that I’d move to Nashville to work as Climb Nashville’s Head Routesetter, I would be beyond stoked, then I’d amble off to another three-foot boulder and wrestle my way to the top.