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Hello Hello Hello

FRB Archived Interview
Angie Payne

 late December, 2004

Angie Payne
Angie Payne Angie Payne Angie Payne Angie Payne

FRB: Age?

Angie: 20.

FRB: Height?

Angie: 5'5".

FRB: Weight?

Angie: 110 lbs.

FRB: Ape Index?

Angie: +1".

FRB: Where are you from?

Angie: Cincinnati, Ohio.

FRB: How did you get into climbing?

Angie: My older brother, Dave, started climbing first, then he took my dad to the gym, and soon thereafter they took me. I was eleven at the time. After my first day of climbing, I was hooked and have been ever since.

FRB: How did you end up in Boulder, Colorado?

Angie: Although some people probably think that I'd been planning to come to Boulder since who-knows-how-long-ago, I actually never considered moving here until my senior year of high school. I though I'd stay near home for college, but after some rather spontaneous decisions, I chose the University of Colorado as my next step. Climbing was my main motivation, and the fact that the university was right here near all of the climbing was very convenient. If you knew me well, you would agree that moving 1,000 miles away from home was rather out of character. But here I am, two years later, living in Boulder and loving it.

FRB: I heard you have been climbing outside more lately.
          How is the transition going?

Angie: It's going pretty well. Because I spent the majority of the last nine years climbing in the gym, I'm really enjoying all of the opportunities for outdoor climbing that Colorado has to offer. In terms of transitioning from plastic to real rock, I feel that I've done pretty well putting my climbing ability to use outside. The biggest problem I seem to have with outdoor climbing is that I don't try hard enough all of the time. When I start working on a project, I have a tendency to think that I should be able to do certain moves without exerting too much effort. As we all know, projects aren't simply handed to us, we have to work for them. For one reason or another, I think that I won't have to try very hard to complete certain problems, and as a result I don't always push myself to the limit of my ability. Expectations have also been a big obstacle in my transition from inside to outside. After climbing on plastic for so long, I automatically expect to just do certain things outside. When I don't meet my own expectations, I get frustrated, which ultimately hurts me more than it helps me. Although certain people still give me a hard time about being a gym rat, I'm getting more and more psyched about climbing outside and I'm beginning to understand the incredible appeal of climbing on real rocks.

FRB: Didn't you used to rope climb?
          Why did you quit doing it?

Angie: Yes, for the first five years of my climbing career I climbed almost exclusively on ropes. Because I was involved in the JCCA (Junior Competition Climbing Association) and all of the competitions were on ropes, that's the type of climbing I stuck to. When I stopped doing the junior stuff, however, I started to gain some interest in bouldering. Once I turned 16 and got my license, I started driving myself to the bouldering gym. At first, I was a horrible boulderer because I had tons of endurance, but absolutely no power. I stuck with the bouldering thing anyway, and by my senior year I was driving 30 minutes to the bouldering gym 3 or 4 times a week (can you say "gym rat"?). Although I'm not opposed to tying into a rope, bouldering is my climbing form of choice at the moment. Once I find some endurance lying around somewhere, I could get psyched to climb on a rope again.

FRB: How many comps have you won?

Angie: I'm not sure, I really don't keep track.

FRB: How did you get so strong?

Angie: I'm flattered that you would ask that question, and I wish I could give some wonderful details about getting strong, but I don't really think that there's any specific thing that brought me to where I am today in my climbing. If I had to name something, I'd say that simply climbing seemed to do the trick. Although I don't consider myself to be a very patient person, when I look back at my earlier years of climbing, I think that I was pretty patient about getting strong. I progressed pretty slowly and steadily in my climbing, and it took me a long time to work my way up the difficulty ladder. While I look back and wish that I would have pushed myself to try harder climbs at an earlier date, I also think that my slow progression worked to my benefit. Because I got strong gradually, my technique developed along with my strength, and I'm glad that I have that technique now.

FRB: How do you train to compete?

Angie: I don't really do anything specifically to train for competitions. Like I said, just climbing is my preferred method of "training." I have, however, incorporated Animal Strength Training into my schedule, and I love it. I think that it has definitely made me stronger in general, and it makes me realize that I can try a lot harder than I often do. Aside from climbing and Animal Strength, I don't do anything special to train.

FRB: What do you think about the state of
         competition climbing in the US today?

Angie: I think that competition climbing is in somewhat of a transition phase. Depending on how things unfold in the world of competitive climbing over the next few years, it seems that the sport could take off. At the same time, it also seems apparent that some compromises will have to be made if climbing wishes to meet with the same booming success that other sports have found in the past. For example, if competitive climbing wants to attract attention, events will have to appeal more to the general public and (possibly) less to the climbers. Instead of focusing on difficulty, it wouldn't surprise me if competitions became more centered around entertaining the crowd with big dynos and dramatic falls. I think that the recent rapid expansion of bouldering competitions is proof of the shifting focus of competition climbing in the US. Because I love bouldering, I guess I would have to say that I'm pretty happy with the current state of competition climbing in the US today. I think that if the ABS keeps doing what it's doing, competition climbing faces a positive future.

FRB: What gym do you climb at and why?

Angie: Most of the time I climb at The Spot because I feel very comfortable there, and I like the atmosphere, the routes, the boulders, the people, etc. For me, it's just a fun place to be.

FRB: What is your main focus in terms of climbing?

Angie: While I wish I could say that my main focus is simply the fun of climbing, that isn't completely true. Although there have been times over the past nine years when I have climbed solely because climbing is my favorite thing to do, there have been more times when I have climbed because of expectations I have for myself and a false perception of expectations that others have for me. When I first started climbing, I did it because it was tons of fun. Once I realized I was good at it, I think that I climbed for that reason. As a result, my main focus of climbing became very result-oriented, and I lost sight of the fun of climbing. When I stopped doing junior competitions, climbing became fun again (as it always should be). Now, although I try to focus on how much I love the pure movement of climbing and everything that comes with it, sometimes I lose sight of the true reason that I climb. In a perfect world, I would have no expectations for myself and I would climb simply because it is what I love to do. More than anything, I think that that is my ultimate goal in climbing-to climb for the fun of it.

FRB: What are some of your hardest sends?

Angie: The Kind Traverse in RMNP is my hardest send to date. It was my big project for all of last summer, and I finally finished it at the beginning of this school year. Finger Hut, Public Execution, and Bierstadt were sends that I had to work hard for too.

FRB: Last spring you did the third female ascent of
          Midnight Lightning. Tell us about that?

Angie: Although Midnight Lightning isn't the hardest boulder problem I've done grade-wise, I'm probably more proud of that send than any other. In addition to the fact that only a few females have done the problem, the history of Midnight Lightning also gives it a certain mystique. A few years ago, before I really knew anything about Yosemite, I said that one of my climbing goals was to do Midnight Lightning. Aside from those factors, I had to work hard to do this problem, and I was pretty frustrated by a few of the moves. The move to the lightning bolt hold was challenging for me because I had to be more dynamic than I like to be, and the infamous top out lived up to all of the hype it gets. After falling quite a few times trying to mantle, I finally fought through it and managed to finish the thing. Because it was pretty scary, doing the problem was definitely a personal victory for me.

FRB: What do you think about all of the new
          development in Colorado and Wyoming?

Angie: I think it's very exciting that new areas are still being discovered. Before moving to Colorado, I had no idea what went into developing an area. I have gained a new respect for the people who tirelessly search for fresh areas and take the effort to develop them for everyone to enjoy. I hope that someday I have the chance to find some unclimbed rocks myself so I can name a boulder problem (I love thinking of names for problems…and I have a few in store in case the opportunity ever presents itself).

FRB: Who do you climb with these days?

Angie: I most often climb with Jamie Emerson. Ryan Olson often joins us, and we have a great time together. Both of those guys are wonderful people to be around--and very good rock climbers on top of that. Besides those guys, I don't have a very concrete "crew" that I climb with, although I definitely enjoy climbing with many other people. When I can, I try to climb with people who are stronger than me because it pushes me to try things that I might not otherwise attempt.

FRB: What don't you like about the climbing scene
          in Colorado?

Angie: I would have to say that I don't like how the climbing community seems to be divided into a bunch of tiny groups and, in my opinion, lacks the tight-knit feel of the climbing community from which I moved. At the same time, I have mixed feelings on this issue, because I do love the fact that Colorado is home to so many climbers and people with interests similar to mine. However, because there were so few climbers in Cincinnati, they all congregated in the same place, which created a more cohesive community. In Colorado, on the other hand, the huge number of climbers means that feeling connected to everyone in the climbing community seems improbable, if not impossible.

FRB: What is the worst area in Colorado?
          Why do you think that?

Angie: I'll start with the disclaimer that I haven't seen all of the areas in Colorado, so I can't really make a fair judgment of which one is the "worst." My least favorite area so far, however, is Golden Cliffs (I think that's what it's called). I went there a few summers ago when it was about 98 degrees. Needless to say, the conditions weren't ideal, which undoubtedly affected my opinion. Of course, as the saying goes "one man's trash is another man's treasure." If you like the area, then climb there!

FRB: What are your impressions of some
          of the 'old school' areas?

Angie: The old school areas seem very different from the newer areas in that they are (understandably) more "climbed out." For this reason, I am sometimes turned off by the multitude of contrivances that exist at these areas. However, I realize that good problems can exist everywhere, and I know that the old school areas can provide tons of good climbing. If I had my choice, though, the older areas wouldn't be my first.

FRB: What is the best area in Colorado?

Angie: In my opinion, Mt. Evans is the best bouldering area in Colorado. I think that I prefer this area over others because the problems there are more appealing to me. Although the rock is not as friendly as the rock in the Park, I think that the problems at Mt. Evans are more aesthetic. I'm sure that my preference also has to do with the fact that there are more problems at Mt. Evans that I have done or feel that I have a chance of doing. Basically, Mt. Evans doesn't shut me down as hard as the Park does, and it's a beautiful setting to climb in, too!

FRB: Where do you see climbing/bouldering going?
          What is the future?

Angie: I see climbing getting simpler and simpler in the future. Just as climbing has progressed from more complex forms to less complex forms throughout the history of the sport, I see the same trend continuing in the years to come. Since bouldering has just recently become a very popular form of climbing, the next step seems to be some distillation of bouldering itself. What this might entail, I don't really know, but I'd have to guess that it might mean fewer moves at a time of a greater difficulty. It also seems that climbing is becoming less technical (although I know many people would argue that point). Movement requiring more power and less technique seems to be the wave of the future in climbing.

FRB: Why isn't climbing in the Olympics?

Angie : Honestly, I don't know why climbing isn't in the Olympics. If I had to make my best guess, I'd say it's because the various climbing organizations of the world haven't completely come together (although I admit that I know little to nothing about all of the climbing organizations around the world). Also, as I mentioned earlier, I think that climbing lacks crowd appeal, which is a huge element of Olympic sports. Of course, the other day I was watching TV and saw the National Scrabble Tournament on ESPN. To the best of my knowledge, Scrabble isn't in the Olympics, but if this board game has enough crowd appeal to be broadcast on ESPN, then climbing must have at least a bit of public appeal.

FRB: Thanks for the interview, Angie.

Angie: It was my pleasure. Thanks!


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