Dan: Just turned 38 a week ago.
FRB: How long have you been climbing?
Dan: 19 years.
FRB: How did you get into climbing?
Dan: I went to the University
of Vermont to peruse ski racing and an economics degree. I never made
the World-class Division 1 UVM racing team, but I had top finishes in
a few mogul competitions throughout the state. A fellow in the dorm,
Noel Sagerman, who was a NOLS instructor and an avid climber, asked
if I could belay him at the local crag, which was a total pile along
the train tracks just outside of Burlington. When the train came by,
you had to stop climbing and lower off because the train would come
within a few feet of the rock. Anyway, Noel had me follow the pitch
he led - he totally sandbagged me, not mentioning it was 5.11, it was
my very first time on rock. It was a disaster. UVM did have a rudimentary
vertical traverse climbing wall with real chunks of rock epoxyed to
the cement, this was before modular climbing holds were popular. George
Squibb, myself, and a few other climbers spent countless hours doing
laps on that wall (and stealing chalk from the gymnastics facility next
door). Weekends were spent going to the Gunks, North Conway, and the
FRB: Do you do all types of climbing: Bouldering,
Big Wall, Alpine, Ice, etc?
Dan: For the first 10 years
of my climbing career, all I did was trad. I've climbed 100s of routes
in the Gunks, Eldorado, RMNP; did a few routes on the Diamond and climbed
The Nose (El Cap). Right now, all I do is sport routes and bouldering.
I really enjoy the gymnastic movement and not worrying about if the
RP below my feet will hold if I fall. Also, I do like the convenience
factor, being able to get a couple burns on a project or a boulder problem
with limited time. Ice climbing is flat out scary.
FRB: Where do you climb most of the time?
Dan: I love to climb in Boulder Canyon, because I have
become accustomed to the clean granite and because it's close to home.
The North/South orientation of the Canyon truly allows for year-round
climbing potential. I also like RMNP/Lumpy for the sheer beauty. The
small granite crags and domes between Lyons and Estes are also a favorite
when I need to get away from the scene. Clear Creek is also fun despite
being butt ugly. When I have time to road trip (which is a rarity);
I'll go to Shelf or Rifle.
FRB: Boulder Canyon has received a lot of negative
over the years
for the grid bolting and chipping & for
areas like the
Sport Park, what's your thoughts on that?
Dan: Well, it's way beyond the
scope of this interview, I feel "Bo-Can" is an easy target. Because
of a few over-graded, over-bolted routes - the entire Canyon has been
stereotyped and pigeon holed in that regard. There are countless fantastic
routes done in good style. The recent new route activist like Rolofson,
Alber, D'Antonio, Vaino, Archer, myself, etc. have done, for the most
part, a good job despite all the grief we have taken. No, I don't advocate
chipping (if you were going to ask). Gluing is okay only to reinforce
FRB: How many FFA's do you have?
have over 40 FFAs in the state in places like Gilman Canyon (outside
of Minturn, CO), ButtonRock (above Pinewood Springs), Boulder Canyon,
and Walcott, CO.
FRB: What do you do?
Dan: I'm a marketing manager
for a Global Fortune 1000 Digital Storage Company.
FRB: When do you have time to climb?
Dan: I have a lot of flexibility
with my job because so much is done remotely via email and phone. I
can get out most days, and put in the extra hours and work late into
the night. Most of my projects require some travel and are in California.
It's a challenge, everyone I work with is very corporate and into golf
and BMWs, arrrggh. One of the company VPs once told me I didn't fit
the professional image they were trying to portray; he was canned a
few months later because he got drunk and harassed a bunch of employees
at a company-wide event.
FRB: Is it hard to balance work, family, and climbing?
wife Susan and Son (James) are always first priority, followed by work
and climbing. Balancing family, climbing, and a career has not been
easy, especially if you want to climb at a decent level. I always feel
that I'm juggling these three aspects of my life. My friends think I'm
anal and Type A personality, but you have to be to pull it all off.
FRB: Favorite bouldering areas, problems, & projects?
Dan: Again, it's the local stuff because I need to be
efficient and don't have the time to drive around. Flag is great. I
love doing the classics: First Overhang, Monkey, Upper Y, Hagans; but
also like working stuff as well. I sent Undercling Traverse (V9) a few
months ago and plan to project Pebble (aka Over Yourself), Caddis, Right
Graham Arete, and maybe Barrio Traverse.
FRB: Hardest redpoint?
Dan: I recently did a couple
local 5.13bs. They took a lot of time. It's hard not to become obsessive
with projects. After awhile they become drudgery - so motivation is
key. A few of my friends give me a hard time about working routes when
they would rather onsight climb (Bob R). I think Alpinist Bruce Miller
said that the key to redpoint climbing is to keep going back and knocking
your head against the wall and eventually you'll send. I do love the
feeling of accomplishment and that feeling when you first know the climb
FRB: Do you train?
Dan: I campus a few months a
year, trail run, and do a lot of circuit bouldering. The margaritas
always sandbag my progress though.
FRB: Are you sponsored?
Dan: Somewhat, I have low-level
arrangements/sponsorships with Black Diamond and Petzl; they help me
with gear on occasion.
FRB: Do you compete?
Dan: Hell no, the 13 years-old
are too light and strong, plus I 'm too old. I do enjoy going to the
BRC and Spot after the comps to see how many Elite problems I can do
FRB: What famous climbers to you admire?
had the opportunity to meet and talk with the European climbing ace,
Ines Papert, a couple weeks ago at the Ouray Ice Festival. She is an
incredible climber sans attitude. She won the mixed ice competition
beating all the men (Will Gadd included) on the same mixed comp route.
She also climbs 13d on rock, is in her mid thirties, and is raising
a four-year old son. I admire people with balance who do it all despite
having responsibility. Anyone can climb 5.14 without working and living
in a tent full time. And of course, I have nothing but respect for Tommy
Caldwell - he is a true great figure in American Climbing and commands
respect and admiration.
FRB: What's the future of the Sport?
to say, climbers are constantly getting younger and stronger while the
training knowledge and access to indoor gyms and facilities improve.
I am excited to see where things go. It looks like hard trad routes
are coming back into style with the emergence of long hard free climbs
e.g., the Huber and Caldwell climbs on El Cap. Also, it's amazing to
see boulder problems like The Wheel of Life (V16) raising the bar. V12
was the top only a few years ago. Access, preservation, and environmental
awareness are crucial to the well-being of the sport in addition to
protecting the finite amount of rock.
FRB: What do you think about the danger and
aspect of risk
Dan: That's probably one of the
reasons I prefer sport climbing and bouldering over something like alpine
climbing. With a wife and son relying on you, you have to make an effort
to be careful in an inherently dangerous sport. It really hit me one
early morning this summer; I was up at Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon
and found a dead body at the base of the cliff. Apparently the climber
had soloed to the top and got off route or something. Nobody is really
sure what happened. When I looked at this person, broken, bloody, and
twisted on the ground, I really realized not to take things for granted.
My friends Ted Lanzano, Greg Hill, and I devised an 11 point check system
before we climb, taking into account harness, knots, rope, systems etc.
It's not a panacea but it's a start, plus I usually wear a helmet.
FRB: How often do you climb?
4 times a week on average.
FRB: What about rest days?
Dan: That's my weakness, I think
I would be a better climber if I rested more and climbed less. I really
miss it after a few days. Most of our family trips and vacations are
to destinations with absolutely no climbing potential, which is good
- I always come back stronger and more invigorated.
FRB: Any parting words?
Dan: Be safe; have fun.
FRB: Thanks for the interview, Dan