Outoor Climbing

We promote getting outside of your daily hustle and we have ironically not been practicing what we preach. Our team has been consumed by our day to day grind, BUT Spring is here, the trees are blooming and we are excited to start enjoying the things that we are passionate about.

I recently wrote an article on indoor rock climbing and highlighted a local gym to motivate people to get their belay on. I have a strong desire to start climbing outdoors but I'm not sure where to start. A friend of mine is killing the outdoor climbing scene and even though she looks like a pro she's only been doing it for about a year and a half. I spent some time with April and asked for some insight on how she got started, how she's kicking ass in a male dominated sport and how she finally decided to get outside of her daily hustle and pursue something she is passionate about. Read below for April's thoughts and be sure to check her out on Instagram

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What motivated you to venture to the climbing world?

I've always been an outdoors person, I grew up doing a lot of things in nature and my parents would take us hiking and camping a lot. My friend Ben turned me onto climbing when a new bouldering gym opened up down the street from my neighborhood, I honestly just thought it would just be a fun activity I had no idea it would spark this love for climbing.

What was the most intimidating part of climbing when you started?

The most intimidating thing I'd say is being a woman. I've always been in shape and practiced yoga but I had no upper body strength. It's really easy to feel weak when you are starting out, especially when you're surrounded by men who are naturally stronger. I have a lot of awesome supportive male friends, so I don't ever really have a problem climbing with them. They push me when they know I'm capable and respect me and lift me up when I'm struggling. Also, it is very intimidating to climb with people who are far more advanced than you, but you can't let it get to you. It's so important to have mentors and climb with people who are more knowledgeable and experienced that can teach you and push you to grow. Just know that everyone starts somewhere so never be ashamed of being a beginner.

Sounds like you had a legit mentor when you started outdoor climbing.

Definitely. After about 11 months of climbing mostly indoors I met a girl on social media. She invited me to go outdoor climbing with her friends. I showed up to climb by myself and ended up making a bunch of new friends that day. Stephen, Eoghan, and Sarah have been amazing mentors to me. We climb together all the time.

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I see your posts and stories on IG and I'll be honest the outdoor climbing looks very difficult. Is it as difficult as it looks and is there still a fear factor involved for you?

Outdoor climbing is a totally different playing field. There is just a lot more that goes into it, so yes in lots of ways it's harder. In a gym all you have to do is park your car and go inside all the routes are color coded and laid out for you. Most of the safety precautions have already been taken for you. When you are outside you have to do all the work for yourself. Most of the time it consists of road tripping, sometimes long approaches and hiking in with gear on your back to get to the crag. Sometimes the approaches are just as strenuous and dangerous as the climbs. Then you have to find the routes, set draws or anchors, clean them, etc. It's always more dangerous because it's nature and things break and fall, seasons change and so does the landscape. It's unpredictable, but I think that it's all part of why climbing is so incredible, it gives you a whole new appreciation for nature.

Any advice for someone who wants to start climbing in general or anyone who wants to venture from indoor to outdoor climbing?

I definitely think that starting out in a gym, if it's available to you, is a great intro to climbing. There are also those people that will never go outside and will always just want to climb in the gym and that's OK. For me it was a natural progression of what I already loved, which is being outside. I also wanted to meet more female climbers so I joined several social media women's climbing groups, specifically Flash Foxy, Girls Who Climb, and Mountain Girls.

I started to meet rad chicks that climb and we started talking about how we all don't have other girls to climb with, so then it became a thing. I think that’s why a lot of girls joined these women's only climbing groups because a lot of us have this problem. I started meeting up with people at local crags and each time I would make new friends. My climbing circle grew and now I know so many people that climb outdoors and every weekend someone is climbing somewhere. So if there is any advice that I can give you it's get out there, meet people, and make connections. I think this community is so unique because there are countless climbing groups and everyone is so supportive. 

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Can you talk about your personal story and what got you to where you're at now?

I started climbing about a year and a half ago, I never in a million years thought it would be something I would become obsessed with. Despite what people might believe climbing was my idea, not my boyfriends. I immediately fell in love and started climbing all of the time! After only about 4 months I went climbing for the first time outside, due to limited resources it took me a few months to go climbing outside again. When I found a solid crew I started going outdoors every weekend. Since June of 2017 I've been climbing outdoors pretty much every weekend. In the last 9 months I've been able to climb at some incredible locations; Red Rock Vegas, Bishop, Mammoth, New Jack City, Joshua Tree, Tahquitz, Riverside Quarry, Holcomb Big Bear, The Grail in Arizona, Echo Cliffs the Santa Monica mountains and my hometown favorite Malibu Creek, I also had the opportunity to go ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado this past January.

I'm still a fairly new climber and I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. That's what I love about this sport, it's a lifestyle, a culture, a community and I'm obsessed with it now. I read books and listen to podcasts and talk about climbing constantly. I hardly see my non-climbing friends because my life is so consumed with climbing! We plan our weekends and all of our free time on our next climbing destination. I'm planning for Greece in 3 months where I will be going solo on a climbing sailing trip. I'm beyond excited and I can't wait to climb and see the world.

What is something people don't know about you?

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I sometimes hear "I wish I had your life" or people ask me what I do for work. People that follow me on Instagram see me as this sponsored climber that is always on trips and doing cool things and never works, but in reality I work very hard for this life. Instagram is a tool and a social media platform, not real life. I post highlights and share moments and fragments of my life. That doesn't mean I'm not a real person with real life responsibilities. Don't let the pretty photos fool you, no ones life is perfect and there is a lot of hard work that goes in to making all of these things happen.

What most of you don't know about me is that I spend Monday thru Friday in a crowded restaurant as a bartender and barista. Serving is hard work, stressful, demanding, and mentally and physically draining. The weekends are my escape, my freedom from the chaos of the big city, the crowds of people, the noise, the drama. I get through each week daydreaming of our next adventure. I barely get by with only a few dollars left to fill the tank so we can get out of town to go camping and climbing somewhere. All of this is a product of a love for what we do and our dedication to that love.

A month ago I was able to quit one of my jobs, the barista job I had for 5 years. I'm getting busier with my side projects and focusing more on my passions and dreams. I still bust my ass bartending a couple days a week so I'm still not there yet. None of this has been easy and nothing happens overnight, but little by little I get closer to my goals. For most of us there is no fast track. You have to put in the work, but when you start to see the results it's pretty rad. 

 

April is a huge motivator for us at Outside the Hustle and we are looking forward to seeing what she does next in the climbing community. If you want to follow her on the adventures she takes or if have questions be sure to hit her up on Instagram.

All pictures taken by Eric Falleker

Learning to Climb

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At Outside the Hustle we are all about getting away from our daily grind. Work weighs you down, and a life of clocking your 40 hours and then vegging out on the sofa is not appealing to anyone. Recently our crew decided to embrace our inner bad ass and venture to the world of indoor rock climbing. I have some friends that climb all of the time and it always looked like something I would enjoy. We have an incredible indoor climbing gym in my neck of the woods, so we had no reason to keep making excuses. We ventured to Threshold Indoor Climbing Gym and decided to see if Chris Sharma was our spirit animal. I was a little intimidated at first glance, the gym was huge and I didn't even know where to start. The staff at Threshold did a phenomenal job getting us comfortable with the auto-belay system so we were quickly climbing on our own. After a couple of visits utilizing the auto-belay system we were hooked.

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We met a staff member who ironically ended up being the owner of the facility. John Tarkington answered some questions we had an he showed us a couple of routes we could take if we went through the top rope class. For lack of a better phrase John looked like a pro climbing up the wall so it was a no brainer for us to go through the class. After the course I tried a similar route and was quickly humbled on how I wasn't anywhere near John's level of climbing. The top rope routes were still more of a rush compared to the auto-belay system, and it also made us look like we legitimately knew what we were doing. If you haven't done something to make you feel like a bad ass lately, rock climbing will definitely do that for you.

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After spending some time in the gym we were interested in getting a behind the scenes look so we met with John to ask him a couple of questions. Ironically he started about 12 years ago with the same mindset we all had; we are fairly strong and we can do plenty of pull-ups so we will just use our strength to get up the wall. This worked well for about 10-15 feet. We are now regular visitors of the gym and while we haven't been able to rock the route John conquered we are getting more comfortable with climbing and it's still a challenge for us. We typically rotate from climbing to bouldering and eventually we BS over a couple of games of ping pong. Check out the rest of our interview with John below. We haven't ventured to the outdoor climbing scene yet, but we have the best resource with my friend April once we go that route. Our next post will highlight her thoughts on the climbing community, recommendations on how to go from indoor climbing to outdoors and how she ventured outside of her daily grind to start living the life she wanted.

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If you are around the OKC area we highly recommend checking Threshold out, whether you are new to the sport or you've conquered 5.15 you'll enjoy spending time there (If you run into John tell him you are one of his neighbors and you want to talk to him about his dogs). If you aren't in our neck of the woods you should still check out local climbing gyms in your area. We are biased towards John and his crew, but you might find something comparable. Lastly, if you are around OKC and you are headed to the gym hit us up and we might join you! 

Tell us how you got involved with climbing:

I started climbing with my wife Sierra, and she was better than me so it was mainly out of frustration that I got into the sport. I got a membership and started to realize it was a lot of fun, a great workout, and I ended up going every day. I started to get more fit and I was making better life decisions. I wasn't going out as much and doing the things that most other 21 or 22 year old guys do. Then I got introduced to the climbing community, everyone is so encouraging, welcoming and passionate, and you get to see them at their best. It's not like any other sport, every one around you watching you climb is bought in and encouraging you up the wall. A lot of that gets you excited and gets you a lot more engaged with the people around you, it's so supportive and all about the community. The competitive part is mostly against yourself. At any point you can look around the gym and you'll see someone climbing at their limit, they might be a beginner but they are going all out. Anybody you hear that is grunting or trying really hard you are going to be really psyched for. 

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Have you tried to create a specific atmosphere? And if so how have you done that?

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We have. Around the country there are only a handful of ground up facilities. The sport is growing and there isn't a "Walmart" of indoor climbing, each gym has it's own certifications and rules. This is a ground up 20,000 foot facility and it's one of the cleanest in the country. I always wanted to do something like this and when I was in business school I first started to envision this. I wrote a business plan for it a while ago. In business school they focused mainly on the ROI and bottom dollar, this gym is more of a labor of love. You aren't going to turn into the next Warren Buffet but I wanted to create a place where people can come hang out, get a workout in and meet new people.

What would you say to someone like me that has never done this before and might think this isn't for them? 

Well, there are people from all walks of life, they've played all kinds of sports. What I can tell you is I've never been involved in a sport that is all encompassing as this. I've played all kinds of sports and this requires fitness, it's physically demanding, there is technique to it, and you have a little bit of the adrenaline rush to it as well. 

There are so many things the body can do if trained in the right way. It's one thing to be strong, but a completely different thing to be strong AND flexible. 

Definitely. You can get a little bit of everything here, you can work your strength, flexibility, mobility and some adrenaline since you're climbing so high. And we have yoga classes which works in well with climbing. Plus you have the community aspect of it where, after you've climbed for a while and you're spent, you can sit on the floor and build relationships with anyone around you that's trying to accomplish something as well. 

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What's the biggest misconception there is about climbing?

Hands down it's that you have to be ultra fit to do this. You don't. People that think they are super strong sometimes can't get off the ground. It's fun to see everyone from all walks of life try to do something new. You are going to have success, you are going to fail at certain things, but it's all about improving. I've been climbing for 12 years and there is still plenty of stuff out here I'm still working to master. I'm always trying to get better. 

Anything else you want to add?

A gym will only be as successful as it is inviting to the people that make it what it is. Hands down it's the community of people and the friendships developed here. We want people to come, get a workout in, get more fit, and encourage others. It's not a normal gym where you don't talk to anyone the whole time. You're gonna talk to someone here, there's no way around it. Everyone should get psyched and come over and try it out!