Chris Lindner has been climbing for 20 years - which is a lot, considering this blond surfer dude turned 23 in March. He's an original article: styling 5.10a trad at age 4 when the cams were almost as long as his legs, redpointing his first 8a at age 10, and climbing 5.14c at age 16. Last season, he stepped it up big time by nearly free climbing the Big Stone, via El Nino (5.13c A0). An impressive Lindner sent the hard 5.13 pitches within a few tries each, though a single wet move on the final 5.12 pitch kept him from ticking the route. Not bad for his first big wall ever.
What's it like being a total major rock star? You must have a lot of ladies asking for your number.
When I roll into the club, most girls don't know what rock climbing is. When I puff my chest and throw out, Yeah, I climb rocks, I better follow up with something cheesy immediately or I don't have a chance.
Wow, your shoes bring out the color of your eyes.
You've been in the game forever. Do you think the chipped routes of the 90s helped or hurt the sport of climbing?
Helped. I feel like you have to make mistakes before you learn from them. Now, the majority of the world doesn't approve of chipping tactics, so more people will think twice about putting the drill bit to stone.
Is chipping OK in certain situations?
I'm not a rock snob. As long as I am outdoors with good friends doing what I love, I am stoked. I am fortunate that sponsors help me travel around the world climbing on the best stone. But I am not everyone. I know plenty of people with families who work 40 or 50 hours a week, and they only have time and money to make it to the local - perhaps heavily chipped - cliff one day. If that cliff wasn't there, that person might not be able to climb at all. I do take a stand against drilling a route down to your ability level. If the route has holds, leave it alone. I have never chipped a hold in my life, and probably never will. Also, I have way more respect for the route developers who've established hundreds of routes with a few chipped holds here and there than the
people who sit in their office and try to defame these [developers] in their little online forums.
Describe your El Cap experience in five words:
Intimidating, sketchy, technical, beautiful and rewarding.
Describe the difficulties of El Nino.
The hardest part for me was constant death-fall potential on the easier pitches. I felt like I was escaping serious injury or death on pitch after pitch, and it seemed like just a matter of time before my luck ran out and I slipped and fell 60 feet. But we lived, and I think I am used to it now, so I can't wait to get back on the Big Stone!
What's your worst climbing injury?
Sprained my ankle trying to campus a boulder problem in my sandals the first climbing day of my trip to France. Had to climb with one foot for the first week.
What did you dream of becoming as a kid?
I wanted to be a rock-and-roll star and a pro surfer.
Is climbing like surfing?
It's so similar it is mind-boggling. People buy surf videos and magazines to see people living the ultimate lifestyle of traveling to exotic areas all over the world searching for the perfect waves. Climbing is the same exact thing.
What would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
Improving in both loves of my life. Focus on developing remote world-class climbing destinations with world-class surfing nearby.
Describe having a relationship and trying to climb your projects.
I will take advice from anyone who has it on this topic. I don't have a clue.