did you get into climbing Chris?
started "climbing" while attending school at Florida State
University in Tallahassee. One of my roommates was the president of
the vaunted FSU Climbing Club and hooked me up with the towns' hot spot
--Toxic Park. Toxic Park was a park that had been closed due to unsafe
levels of radiation in the soil (nobody was quite sure how it got radioactive).
The 15 ft. high rock wall they built to keep people out had some decent
holds on it for monkeying around. So we would sneak in and make up all
sorts of crazy traverses and problems --barefoot and usually inebriated,
mind you. After six months of this I met someone who had a backyard
wall (eureka!), and about a year later realized that people did this
kind of stuff on real rock (what a crazy concept!). Definitely meager
FRB: Who were some of your early climbing partners?
My buddy Sean Pierce got me started. Then I tapped into the intimate
Tallahassee climbing scene and learned to trad climb from Walt Donaldson,
Tom Lorino, and a few other guys. We actually built the Tallahassee
Rock Gym to have somewhere to play.
FRB: Who do you climb with usually?
Chris: I like to climb with
anybody who is psyched to get out and play. It really doesn't matter
to me if someone pulls V0 or V12, if they have fun climbing and can
put up with my bizarre (and often offensive) sense of humor then I enjoy
climbing with them. Some of the folks I've been bouldering with a good
bit lately are Steve Geinitz, Brad Dean, Seth Lytton, Pat Kelly, Matt
Sonke, Brian Solano, Ken Center, Brian Sweet, Mike Sakas and tons of
other cool cats I've met at the gym and at the boulders. And I always
enjoy getting out with my wife, Amanda.
FRB: What brings you to the Front Range?
Chris: I had to get out of Florida.
I landed a sweet job with Rock'n & Jam'n and Amanda and I thought Denver
sounded like fun. We were right.
FRB: Have you done any first ascents?
Chris: Not really. I'm really
pretty lazy and would much rather have someone else find, clean, grade
and suss out any trick beta for me (it would be nice if they would just
carry me to the top, too, but so far no takers). I have always enjoyed
setting boulder problems inside, and maybe this is where all my creative
energy goes... but I'm probably just too lazy.
FRB: Do you have any projects right now?
Chris: Not really. I've got
craploads of unsent problems that I want to send one day, but nothing
I'm working actively.
FRB: How do you deal with injuries?
Chris: I usually climb through
them. Eventually my body gets tired of hurting and it sort of stops
(NOTE--this is definitely not recommended, do not try this at home!)
Now that I'm getting a little older I seem to be feeling the effects
of ten years of not-quite-healed injuries, but I don't seem to be getting
any smarter so I just plow ahead.
FRB: Who are you sponsored by?
Chris: I just recently got sponsored
by Mad Rock and I'm really excited about it. I couldn't be happier with
my Mugens --they work great on all terrain and allow me to pull some
crazy-sick heel hooks that other shoes wouldn't (gratuitous plug #1).
Everybody should give them a try.
FRB: What are some of your favorite moments
in your climbing
Chris: Placing my first solid
gear placements, taking my first fall on my gear, rescuing a dog from
the middle of the second pitch of a 5.8 slab, getting to the top of
sketchy highballs, watching my friends freak out on sketchy highballs,
sticking any move that I didn't think I could, sprinting down trails
in the dark to catch the last shuttle, when Steve stuck Left of Les,
when Prairie laughed her way up Stinkfoot, any trip to Hueco --the list
goes on and on. Climbing has left me with so many awesome memories I
could go on all day.
FRB: Where do you think the best bouldering
in the Front
Chris: It depends on what kind
of a mood I'm in that day. I've become a big fan of the Park, but also
enjoy Carter Lake, the Satellites, and I can even dig on a good 'ol
fashioned Morrison workout.
FRB: What are some things you don't like about the
Front Range bouldering
the most part I think it's awesome. Coming from the flatlands I was
intimidated at first, but I've found the climbers to be supportive,
generous and welcoming. I do get pissed off when I see boulderers trashing
beautiful areas, though. This summer I was constantly picking up used
tape, chalk-block wrappers, etc. under the boulders in Rocky Mountain
National Park. I'm not usually one to push my ethics on others, but
that is some major bullshit! Here we are in the middle of one of the
most majestic playgrounds in the world and some moron can't even put
his tape in his pocket when he's done climbing!!! Don't get me started...
FRB: Well, not all of us can get out to climb when we want to.
And we have to
somewhat train. What do you got for
What do you recommend?
Chris: Train with somebody who
psyches you up. If you can get some good energy going then it doesn't
feel like work anymore. I prefer a lotta smack-talking, and threats
of physical violence ("get your fat ass to the top of that campus board
or I'll rip your f#!*ing throat out!", and supportive stuff like that).
FRB: What else do you do besides climb?
Chris: I enjoy mtn. biking,
snowboarding, skiing, soccer, basketball, snowshoeing, hiking, scuba
diving, hacky-sack, battle hack, slacklining, and geeking out with a
video game. Or that's what I like to think--in reality, I don't do much
FRB: Tell us about the new Rock'n & Jam'n Gym?
Chris: We're building a new
gym down in way-south Denver. I think it's gonna be the bomb (but of
course I'm biased since I helped design it). It's got some sick angles,
and lots of cool new terrain that I can't wait to play on. The walls
are about 40ft. tall. We've got almost 1500 sq.ft. of bouldering and
loads of roped climbing for all abilities (gratuitous plug #2). We're
working furiously to finish up the building and hope to open sometime
in the next couple of months, but I'm finding the construction business
is hard to predict, so we can't say for sure. Check out our website
rocknandjamn.com for updates and pictures.
FRB: What is the new facility going to concentrate on?
will always concentrate on providing you guys with the best indoor climbing
environment possible(gratuitous plug #3). Most of our current customers
are psyched to climb on the ropes, so that's still our priority, but
we're definitely going to have some cool bouldering terrain. I spend
most of my time in the bouldering cave, so I'll make sure it stays fresh
and challenging. My personal philosophy about the gym is to make it
a friendly place where everybody can have a good time climbing 5.5's
or thrutching up V10's.
FRB: What makes for a good competition route
in your opinion?
Chris: Something that I can
send in three or less tries. Seriously, good comp routes are hard to
set cause you want to entertain your audience without favoring one type
of climber over another. This is all but impossible, but you still have
to try. For bouldering comps, I try to set a wide variety of problems
so everybody can find something they excel at. I'm also a fan of throwing
in an extra footer here and there to help the short folks make long
moves (go short people!).
FRB: Any words of wisdom on how to climb hard?
Chris: I'm still trying to figure
it out myself. I guess I would recommend not taking climbing too seriously--as
obsessive as it can become, it's still a game we've created for our
own enjoyment--try and enjoy it.
FRB: What do you think about the Tour de Front bouldering series
What do you think about the Tour de Front bouldering series? It's one
of the coolest experiences I've been a part of in nine years of working
in climbing gyms. Every one of the comps has been a blast, and they're
still going strong. Having setters from all of the gyms set at each
comp has resulted in a beautiful variety of challenging problems. The
competitors seem to really enjoy the fresh scenery each month. And I
personally have enjoyed meeting so many new people from the gyms around
the front range. Hats off to Scott Rennak (Mr. ABS) once again for getting
things rolling. Make sure you check these events out--4 more to go!
FRB: Thanks for the interview Chris.
pleasure. Thanks for providing us with such a cool website, guys.