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Hello Hello Hello

FRB Archived Interview
Dan Smith - 2002

dan dan dan dan dan


FRB: How did you get into climbing?

Dan: I always wanted to climb. I started climbing in New Hampshire, at Rumney. I was on campus one day and saw this kid walking to the dorms with a climbing rope over his shoulder. A few days later I asked him if he would take me climbing. He was glad to have a partner, and I was amped to climb. I actually started by bouldering at ‘the Pound’ for a few weeks. Basically, it started like that.

FRB: How long have you been climbing for?

Dan: I guess that was April of 1991.

FRB: What have you sent lately?

Dan: Not much. I mostly have been getting beaten up, although I did have a great trip to Little Cottonwood Canyon on Memorial Day weekend. Dan H., Jess and I went to Little Cottonwood Memorial Day weekend. I was able to do Butt Trumpet in a few tries and then walked over and flashed Mr. Smiley from the low start. And it was nice to just get away from Boulder with friends. Dan and Jess are a lot of fun. LCW is a blast, with lots of hard problems. I also did ‘Midnight Lightning’ in Oct. That was a high point for me.

FRB: Favorite bouldering area in the Front Range?

Dan: That’s hard. The Front Range has so many different types of bouldering; crimpy, sloppy, intricate, powerful, steep, bizarre. So it really just changes week to week. Rate now, I’m enjoying granite. Anything granite. Gross, Lumpy, Boulder Canyon, and waiting for the park. But really it’s just where I can have fun with my friends. Bouldering sometimes is about seeing what I can hold onto, but it is mostly just about screwing off with my friends. Where ever I can have fun with my friends is my favorite bouldering area.

FRB: Favorite area in Colorado?

Dan: I think Crested Butte is my favorite area in Colorado. If it had twenty times the boulders, it would one of the best areas in the country. It doesn’t matter what level you boulder at, there is a climb for everyone, the rock quality is amazing, camping by the creek, good coffee and pastries (makes me strong), and in the fall, when the aspens are changing and the ground is covered in gold, I don’t think you could find a prettier place to climb. For me it’s the best in Colorado.

FRB: Have you done any first ascents?

Dan: I’ve put up a few problems in the FlatIrons, and one in Eldo on the Gill Boulder, but most recently, I did a few on a trip to Hueco Tanks in Feburary. As a group we put up eight new problems, three of which I did. One was on the Warm-up Roof Wall, and the cool one was on the Double Vision Boulder. It starts sitting down on the left side of the wall that Double Vision is on, and follows up the steep arête to a good Hueco, then up. Some where in the range of V6 to V9. I’m not very good with grades. I did a trad line at Animal World a few years ago also, but I think some one bolted it.

FRB: Favorite partners?

Dan: I have a few people that I climb with mostly; Dan Howley, Sasha (my favorite spotter) Jessica, Jeff. But mostly I climb with anybody that is around. It’s hard for me to climb with people that are too serious. If I can’t have fun, it’s not worth doing.

FRB: Favorite routes/boulder problems?

Dan: Route: Country Club Crack and The East Slab on the Dome are tied. Boulder Problem: Midnight Lightning (simply perfect).

FRB: You work at Neptune Mountaineering, what climbing shoes do you sell most of?

Dan: Five Ten.

FRB: Why do you think that brand sells more?

Dan: Advertising.

FRB: What is the best chalk?

Dan: The chalk that keeps you dry, doesn’t leave a trace on the rock, doesn’t crack you skin…there is no good chalk. Chalk is a necessary evil that I wish I could do without.

FRB: What is the best pad?

Dan: Cordless sells the fastest, that is for sure. They make a real nice one, but mine is a home job. My friend Jeff made this monster pad a few years ago out of the foam from his Aikido Dojo. It’s has five inches of close cell foam and an inch of open, 4’x 5’. I did Cadis (not small) last year using Jeff’s pad, and if I had anything else I think I would have been to afraid to finish it. So I guess Jeff does.

FRB: Got any cool road trips coming up?

Dan: Just weekend stuff really. Crested Butte, The Park, and a secret stash I’m going to check out tomorrow, plus a little crack climbing in Vedauwoo, and the RMNP.

FRB: Going to the Valley this year?

Dan: If I can talk my partner into talking a week off working on the gym, I would love to take another crack at the Force, Thriller and Tangerine Trip.

FRB: I heard you got a bouldering gym opening up soon what can you tell us?

Dan: Dan Howley and I are putting a business plan together for a bouldering gym. Actually, it will be 90% bouldering and 10% top ropes. The gym will have 3-6 free standing boulders that can be topped out at 12 to 15 feet, plus the exterior walls will be paneled. We will be using three different types of texture on the boulders and the walls to simulate Yosemite, Hueco, and Font. We may even put up a classic problem from each area, like the Dominator.

FRB: How big is it gonna be?

Dan: 8,000-12,000 square feet, depending on the building we end up using.

FRB: What is the name gonna be?

Dan: ‘The Bouldering Garden’ is what it says on the company seal, but it can still change if need be.

FRB: What price are you gonna charge for admission?

Dan: Rate around $30 per month.

FRB: What made you decide to open a climbing gym?

Dan: If I don’t, someone else will. I just want to make sure it is done right.

FRB: Who do you think makes the best gym holds?

Dan: I find that when I'm bouldering in the gym, I’m almost always making up problems with E-grips and Pusher holds. I’m not sure what makes a hold good for bouldering, but what ever it is E-grips and Pusher has it. I also want to say that I am ecstatic that Jessica Franco is breathing life back into E-grips.

FRB: What do you think of  'The Family' (Pusher Inc.)?

Dan: I never really thought about ‘The Family’ before doing research and writing the business plan. Just the fact the ‘The Family’ exists speaks to the fact that bouldering is huge, and getting bigger. From what I understand, the owner of ‘The Family’ is a, if not the, major investor in the new bouldering gym, ‘The Front’, being built in Salt Lake City. When we get the gym off the ground, we hope to work closely with ‘The Family’.

FRB: What don't you like about the BRC?

Dan: To be honest, the main reason for Dan H. and I to open our bouldering gym is that there just isn’t enough indoor climbing space in this area. The climbing population of Boulder is massive and growing every year, especially in bouldering. Space definitely is the issue at the BRC. When the BRC was built I don’t think they realized how much bouldering was going to take off. Matt O’Conner (GM of the BRC) has done a fantastic job, but there are just too many of us for one facility. We have actually already spoken with Matt, and he was very receptive to the idea, and right away, we started talking about how we could help each other. Air quality and environmental control is another thing that could use some work at the BRC.

FRB: What do you like about the BRC?

Dan: The route setting is great, the holds are cleaned frequently, you can fall on your head and be O.K., and I like the natural features.

FRB: What are you gonna do in your gym that the BRC doesn't do?

Dan: .We have a great opportunity to learn from others mistakes here, and plan on taking full advantage of it. A major one is going to be the existence of an Air Filtration System and Air Conditioner. On top of that; later hours, Nautilus equipment, taller walls, boulders you can top out, more organic curves with fewer angles, more consistent angels. We will also put one of the boulders against a wall to create a Ghetto type slot. This will make the shortest problem on this wall some were between 30 and 40 feet straight up, depending on the angle we use. Also in the plan is to buy two vans to take weekend and longer trips to Indian creek, Wild Iris, Joes, Hueco, Bishop etc., whatever is in season. These are only a few of the things we have going on, and suggestions are welcome too

FRB: What is the best gym in the country?

Dan: Right now, The BRC, because I know my friends will be there. Come the end of the year …I’ll have a new favorite gym.

FRB: Do you think being a gym owner will ruin your climbing.

Dan: My home woody is going to be 12,000 square feet of the most high tech bad ass walls in the country, if not the world, campus board, two system boards, with the pounding stereo to boot, I think I’ll be O.K.

FRB: Well Dan, thank you for your time. We're looking forward to the opening of your bouldering gym.

Dan: Thank you.

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