Climbing dictates my entire life. Where I live, where I go, who I’m with, throughout the year.
Dave Graham taught me never to quit, never to say no. Dave is a fighter. He will always battle to the end on an onsight.
Dish washing was the worst job I’ve ever had. The lipstick on glasses and napkins made me sick to my stomach.
In college in Maine, I worked as a butcher selling game meats. I liked black bear, which is dark and stringy. Rattlesnake, with its white, fishy meat, was vile.
Guns scare me. One time the crooked owner of this game-meat market brought in his gun to show off and he accidentally shot a hole through his walk-in freezer and five other freezers belonging to other vendors.
Attending the Maine College of Art, where I majored in painting, was one of my life’s biggest challenges. I got by with money I made from piercing people’s eyebrows, lips, tongues and belly buttons (anything other than their d—ks). I’d charge $60 per hole.
My first sponsor was Five Ten, and this was a huge deal. I told all my friends at school. My parents were proud.
When you have people that believe in you, the sky is the limit.
My father is a salesman. He taught me you have to ask for the sale, and always shoot high. Always negotiate higher and get what you think you deserve.
A lot of people think that performance alone is what gets climbers an opportunity to make a living as a professional. That used to be me. Now, I know performance is only two percent of the equation.
You have to self-promote. My blog gets 2,500 visitors per day. Experiencing climbing through the Internet, for some, is a bigger part of their climbing lives than actual climbing. I try to bring that vicariousness to my blog and make it entertaining.
When there’s a camera present at the crag, it’s always a little invasive. Sometimes I get embarrassed.
Establishing lines has become an obsession that rivals the satisfaction of climbing. After you redpoint a line, you’re done: onto the next one. Putting up a new route feels more permanent. Even after you’ve climbed it, a part of you is still there, waiting for the next person’s ascent.
Dani Andrada is a G. He’ll walk into the campground at Siurana, and has this natural confidence that everyone is drawn to. He makes very little money, bolts like a mad man and climbs hard. I like to think there’s a little part of me that is like that as well.
Traveling is a test of character. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s defining. As a climber, traveling is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
The generosity of the climbing community is unbelievable. So many friends have provided me a room or a couch to sleep on. I owe people big time and I can’t wait to be able to return the favor.
The worst climbing partners are competitive. When I’m out with Jon Cardwell and Dave Graham, it’s the greatest vibe. Intense focus and happy confidence. It doesn’t have to be them, though. I enjoy climbing with anyone who is having a good time.
Art and bolting are related because you are creating something for others to enjoy, hate, talk about and experience.
At 30, I am smarter, more mature, and a lot more thoughtful. My girlfriend, Colette McInerney, taught me to think about other people. How to be symmetrical to someone else. It’s not just about me.