Brian, how long have you been climbing?
Brian: I first started climbing
almost 8 years ago. At the time there was no gym where I lived so we
would climb outside, mostly on the weekends when our parents could drive
us. A year or two later I built a small home wall and began to climb
FRB: How did you get into climbing
Brian: A friend of mine and
his family had hired a guide to take them climbing. They had a wonderful
time and recommended that my family should do the same thing. Several
weekends later my dad drove me, a friend, and the climbing guide to
the cliffs of southern Illinois. We had a great time and I got my first
pair of climbing shoes shortly after.
FRB: What brings you to Boulder,
Brian: In June of '95 when I was 15 years old, my main climbing partner and
I went on a small road trip. We were given the grand tour of Colorado
by our good friend and somewhat of a climbing mentor Jim Thurmond. Growing
up in Missouri and having never climbed more that 20 miles west of the
Mississippi this was a huge change. He took us to Flagstaff, Eldo, Rifle,
and the Black Canyon. Boulder was a place where I could both go to school
and climb outside full time. So after high school I moved to Boulder.
FRB: How often do you climb?
Brian: If I am climbing indoors
I usually do not climb more than 4 days a week. Most of the year when
I am climbing outside I climb about 5 days a week, but some of these
days are just going to Flagstaff between classes and doing a circuit
of easier problems.
FRB: What are your current
goals for climbing?
Brian: I've traveled some and
seen so many amazing looking boulder problems... but I have done relatively
few of them. Therefore I always have tons of (boulder) problems to think
about, so for now I just want to go back and finish a few of them.
FRB: What are your long-term
To become more of a well-rounded climber. Someday I would
like to be able to lead traditional 5.12 comfortably. Right now I have
no interest in ice or mixed climbing.
FRB: How do you train for hard
Brian: In my opinion you can
get stronger climbing indoors, but being stronger isn't the only part
of being a better climber. If you want to climb your best you must stay
motivated, and sometimes (at least for me) it is hard to stay motivated
FRB: How about resting. What
do you recommend?
to your body. I think that if you feel good you shouldn't force yourself
to rest, and if you feel tired you shouldn't force yourself to climb.
FRB: What inspires you to train?
Brian: Good friends… beautiful
FRB: What else do you do besides
Brian: I enjoy skiing in the
Who are some of your favorite bouldering partners?
Brian: I climb mostly with
Herm Feissner, Theo Merrin, Curtis Gardner, Mike Auldridge (when he
is in town) and Josh Heiney. We all seem to have a good time together.
FRB: Do you have any 'heroes'
that you look up to for inspiration?
Brian: I am pretty inspired
by people like Dave Hume (from Kentucky). He finds time to be an exceptional
climber while still going to school full time, working in a lab, and
making good enough grades to keep a scholarship. I am also pretty inspired
by people like Tommy Caldwell who seem to have limitless motivation.
He appears to always be setting climbing goals, achieving them, and
then moving onto the next one without hesitation. You hear of him going
from a bouldering competition straight to working on tremendously hard
sport routes, then like a week later you hear about a sick new boulder
problem he put up, and then he is off freeing really hard big walls
in Yosemite. I think that's pretty respectable.
FRB: You're just back from
Fontainebleau with Herm, Mike, Theo and Dave (Graham)...tell us about
your trip, what did you send?
Brian: We had a great time.
We all climbed some amazing problems. I tried to climb many of the classic
lines but I barely made a dent. I cannot stress enough how many super
classic lines there are in the forest. As far as difficulty I climbed
a few V9s and a couple of V10s.
FRB: You showed Herm Fleshfest
V10, how long did it take him to send it?
Brian: I took him there in
the afternoon and showed him what beta I had worked out. A little before
nightfall he topped out with the first ascent. All in all I'd say it
took him about 2 maybe 3 hours.
FRB: Have you climbed with
Brian: Yea, tons. I have been
to France with him twice, Utah, Florida (sort of a climbing trip), and
I climb with him in the Front Range all the time.
FRB: What is Herm like?
Brian: At first I thought that
he was scary. I wasn't introduced to him; instead people at the gym
would whisper to me that the big guy over there was Herm Feissner. That
was several years ago, now we're good friends. Herm made me believe
that it is possible to go to school, get a good job, while still being
able to travel and climb extremely well.
FRB: You've been going up to
Chaos Canyon in RMNP with Dave Graham, what can you tell us about climbing
Brian: Where do I start? Dave
is obviously an extremely strong climber. I think that many people get
the impression that Dave climbs well only because he is lightweight
and has genetically strong fingers, when in reality there is much more
to him than that. Dave has an amazing ability to find the best sequences
and correct body positioning on the rock, and very quickly. He also
has heaps of motivation and an uncompromising belief in himself. I do
not remember ever hearing him say that he couldn't do something or that
a move was too hard. It's my belief that he got strong just by climbing
and training extremely hard for several years straight.
FRB: Have you sent any FA's
in Chaos Canyon?
Brian: I have not put up anything
harder than V8… Dave did most all of those himself.
FRB: What can you tell the
'average' boulderer that would improve his/her climbing?
Brian: Do what keeps you motivated,
and try as hard as you can. Think about what you want to do with climbing,
or what is it about climbing that makes you enjoy it so much. Then work
towards that. It is harder than it sounds, I have been trying to figure
it out for years and I still don't have any answers.
Do you compete?
Brian: Occasionally. I think
that competitions are an interesting part of climbing.
FRB: What competitions have
Brian: Not many.
FRB: What are some of your
favorite climbing gyms?
Brian: I mostly just boulder
indoors. I do climb at the Boulder Rock Club, but mostly I like small/personal
gyms like C.A.T.S., The Wasatch Front Gym in Salt Lake City, and my
home gym in Missouri.
FRB: What makes for a good
competition route in your opinion?
Brian: I think that a good
comp route must have interesting moves, a diversity of holds (like crimps,
edges, pinches, pockets and slopers) and it must be somewhat consistent.
I like problems that can be done with several different sequences with
all of them being about the same difficulty.
FRB: Climbing is constantly
evolving, where do you think it is going.
I have no idea. Maybe extremely difficult sport routes, or really
scary trad, or maybe soloing could become a trend, now that would be
FRB: More people climb/boulder
than ever before, what should be done to mitigate the impact to the
Brian: I do not know much on
the subject, especially about route climbing areas. As for bouldering,
don't use excessive amounts of chalk, go easy on the tick marks and
try to remember to brush them off, do not add any more bolts to the
tops of boulders (I have used one, but never installed one.)
FRB: Do you think that climbing/bouldering
should be banned in the Flatirons?
Brian: No, I like it up there.
I did not know that was a serious issue. What are the arguments against
climbers? Erosion? Chalk buildup? The killing of lichen? It seems that
banning climbing in the Flatirons would be fair only if they close the
area to all humans all of the time.
FRB: Do you have a favorite
I am not sponsored, so what I am telling you is actually how
I feel. Right now I am climbing in Five Tens. The only three that I
climb in are the Anasazi Lace, Anasazi Velcro, and the Zlipper.
FRB: Who makes the best crash
pads in your opinion?
Brian: Right now I am on my
third Cordless pad in five years. I think that they average the best
between carrying large loads comfortably, carrying capacity, cushion,
FRB: Is one chalk better than
Brian: Probably not, but I am
a chalk snob. I use Metolius Super Chalk. I have not tried the pusher
chalk yet, and I do like magic (liquid) chalk.
FRB: What climbing periodical
do you read?
Brian: I do have subscriptions
to both Climbing and Rock and Ice. I do not know if it's that I actually
enjoy reading them, looking at the pictures, or that it just gives me
something to do besides study.
FRB: Where are some of your
favorite places to climb/boulder?
Brian: This is in no particular
order. My favorites areas are Hueco Tanks, Fontainebleau, Southern Illinois,
FRB: You're working the pockets
problems at Gross Reservoir… how is that going?
Brian: Those problems are absolutely
stunning. I just recently did the right one after a small epic. Since
then, I have begun working on the left one.
FRB: What hard problems have
you sent in the Front Range?
Brian: Some of them, but I
have a several good ones left.
FRB: Do you have any favorite
problems or ones that you thought were incredible?
Brian: I have favorite problems
that I like to do at each area. There are so many I do not know where
to start, so I will just name a few. At Flagstaff my favorites are Hollow's
Way, and the Tree Slab. Other problems that I really enjoy around Boulder
include Caddis, Turning Point, and the Kahuna Roof. In the Estes Park
area I would include Sapp, and several problems in RMNP. Godzilla and
Pinch Overhang are some of my favorite problems around Fort Collins.
One super incredible looking problem that I have not done, and I would
really like to do is Podophile.
FRB: Thanks for the interview
Brian: You're welcome.