Greg: Haven't actually weighed
myself in at least a couple of years, but I'd guess mid 150s.
FRB: Ape Index?
Greg: 1.07 (6' wingspan / 5'
FRB: So, does it make you feel weird to go into the
and see some kid 1/4 your age
you only dream of doing?
FRB: How did you get into climbing Greg?
Greg: Like many kids, I was
naturally attracted to various forms of climbing. I was a proud member
of the Ann Arbor, Michigan tree climbing club at the age of 7 (with
a total of 2 members). We had specific routes spanning multiple trees,
fences, houses, and cars that included off-route holds. Even before
that, I remember getting lost in the Pennines district of England between
big tall stones in a climbing area, probably South Cumbrian Limestone,
and feeling excited. Another childhood memory, I distinctly remember
a sketchy slab move above my family's campsite in Dinosaur National
Monument at the age of 7.
The first time I top-roped and
rappelled was in 1978 during a high school trip to the Ouachita Mtns
in W. Oklahoma. I remember walking over to the gold line above the 70'
cliff that was on some friends parent's property myself with a figure
eight, uncertain how to use it, and starting to back down to the edge
of the cliff with a sense of great trepidation and no real clue what
I was doing. A high school friend that knew more than I did came over
and checked my connections out. The rope was so slick that I almost
lost control, and had to extricate myself from the branches of a tall
After that, I climbed sporadically,
with breaks of up to 5 years, but when I went to the U. Michigan I joined
the U. of M. climbing club. I think the moment I got hooked on the sport
was when we drove all night to get to Seneca Rocks, WV and my first
view of it was getting out of the tent in the morning, after a night
of rain. It was all covered in fog and looked so huge that my stomach
tied up in knots and I was terrified at the prospect of climbing it.
After I'd been climbing in Colorado for awhile I went back there once
and it looked like an ordinary crag. That was kind of sad!
FRB: What do you like best about climbing?
combination of great movement, problem solving, developing confidence,
beautiful locations, being lost in the moment (hard climbs) as well
as nature appreciation (easy climbs). Partnership as well as the joy
of solitude, the feeling of a great forearm burn (e.g. endorphins),
the free form aspect of the sport, and, although I never want to have
one again even epics can be good in retrospect. Really this list is
FRB: What do you dislike most about the FR
Greg: I've had my fair share of
negative incidents, but they tend to be isolated ones involving some
sort of inconsideration for others. One of the things I like about climbing
and bouldering especially is that the scene is very cooperative and
fun as a rule.
FRB: Which famous climbers do you admire the most?
not really into hero-worship, but the fact is that famous climbers lead
the way for the rest of us and to some extent they are the reason the
rest of us get into the sport, both in terms of the things we do and
in terms of our attitudes.
I'd start by saying that the
climbers I admire the most are non-famous ones, i.e. past and present
partners, because those are the ones I've watched do incredible things
But of climbers that everyone
knows, three that stand out for me are Peter Croft, Ron Kauk, and Lynn
Hill. Why? I really liked Ron Kauk's book "Spirit of the Rock". I'd
like to think that Croft and Hill would like that book too, as an expression
of things that make climbing so beloved to those of us who participate
FRB: What motivates you in your climbing?
Greg: Sending is fantastic,
but upon reflection, a lot of my favorite days have not been ones on
which sending occurred. Thinking about it, one of my main motivations
is discovery and the chance to be creative. I love figuring out a new
link-up, and I love the moment when I realize a project is going to
be doable, even if I have not yet succeeded at doing it.
FRB: What types of climbing do you
enjoy the most
changed over time, but right now it is definitely a combination of long
easy free solos in the flatirons, difficult sport climbing, and bouldering.
FRB: What was your best day bouldering to date?
have to say getting the Compound traverse (200' 5.12 endurance variation,
not the documented 5.13) up on the 2nd flatiron last December was a
great send for me.
FRB: What was your best day sport climbing to date?
Greg: I had two great sends last week - on Monday I
redpointed Sneak Preview (11c) in the Flatirons. And on Thursday I redpointed
Next To Nothing (12b) in Boulder Canyon. Those were both routes I really
had to work for and it was a blast to send both of them. Now I'm psyched
to get on Power Bulge (12c) in the Flatirons, a "dream route"
FRB: What was your best day trad climbing?
Greg: It's funny, on reflection
I think my favorite trad day must have been one day up on Lumpy Ridge
doing a variation to Orange Julius. We'd gone up to climb Hallet but
got off-route on the approach (I know, I know...) and at 7 a.m. found
ourselves looking down on Hallet from an exquisite vantage point high
on Flattop Mountain. We bagged our plan and cruised down to Lumpy. We
didn't have a guidebook and neither of us knew the route, but somehow
the climbing was fun and we pieced some blank pieces together in a really
FRB: What was your best day alpine climbing to date?
Greg: I think it must be doing
Wolf's Tooth in the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind Rivers. Incredible
route, the day was right, the only other party on the route was really
FRB: What do you think about the aspect of danger and
risk in climbing?
Greg: I accept risk, but I don't
seek it. I've lost 4 friends to this sport in 2 separate accidents both
involving factor 2 falls and belay failure with no witnesses. I also
had a partner get injured pretty badly in a leader fall in the Flatirons
during the Fall of 2003.
Obviously if all we wanted
to do was to minimize risk we wouldn't climb. I think if your motivation
in climbing is to maximize the risks you take then you basically have
a death wish.
Each person has to choose the
risk level they are comfortable with and select their activities accordingly.
That means that no one should ever encourage another person to do something
they aren't comfortable with, and it also means that no one should ever
alter an established climb without a consensus - you simply choose not
to do that climb, safe in the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing
to feel bad about in making that personal choice.
And of course you have to be
in agreement with your partner before you climb if you are going to
commit yourselves to something. My partners and I have started doing
11-point checks on each other each time before roping up and I find
this a really great thing to do. It demonstrates concern for your partner's
safety, and it also gives mental confidence when you are climbing that
both you and your partner have verified your setup and take safety seriously.
FRB: How do you think the sport of climbing has
the 20 years you've been climbing?
the better, actually. Gear is better, attitudes are mellower, the sense
of being a climbing community is stronger. The advent of gym climbing
has helped quite a bit with that. People can become introduced to the
aspects of the sport that more athletically inclined people in this
world can agree on - freedom of movement, natural joy of ascent, appreciation
of the indoors world, camaraderie, etc. Then if they wish they can move
on to other aspects of the sport in the whole spectrum from outdoor
sport climbing, to bouldering, to trad, alpine, and mountaineering.
FRB: How do you think your perspective on climbing
has changed during
that same time?
started as a trad and alpine climber and boulderer, and gradually got
introduced to sport climbing, which was followed by gym climbing. Now
I do all of the above, but my focus is sport, bouldering, and easy free-solos.
One of the good things about being older for me is that I don't take
failure as much to heart now - in fact I've learned that failing on
a climb can be just as much fun as succeeding on it. It all depends
on your attitude.
FRB: How do you think climbing as a sport differs
from other sports?
many ways, not so much. I think it's to our advantage to emphasize what
we have in common with other sports rather than to try to differentiate
ourselves. Sure, climbing is special and that's why we do it, but underneath
there is something that all sports share and emphasizing those increases
our level of understanding with others.
FRB: What are some of the favorite places you've
climbed or bouldered?
Greg: Flatirons (including Flagstaff),
Fontainebleau (I lived in Paris for 8 months and climbed there quite
a bit on weekends), RMNP, Cirque of the Towers in the Winds, Dome Rock
in Wyoming, Unaweep Canyon, Eldorado Canyon, and Boulder Canyon.
FRB: How does climbing enter into
of the cornerstones of my philosophy is to strive for balance in life
and obviously there is a climbing connection there.
FRB: Are you competitive?
Greg: Yes, but it's balanced
by other considerations - winning isn't everything, in fact it isn't
even majorly important to me. Some people might say that's really a
FRB: Do you compete indoors?
done it twice - once was indoor lead climbing several years ago and
just this past Friday I competed in the Citizens Bouldering comp at
the Spot thanks to this interview. I had a fantastic time in the bouldering
comp last Friday and I'd love to do it again! I think what I liked was
really an extension of what I like about Bouldering - you work on problems
together with those around you and get beta from each other, so there's
an aspect of cooperation that balances out the competitive aspect. I
like that. When I tried the lead climbing competition it was less cooperative
and more strictly competitive and I enjoyed that less. I do think that
some people are genuinely attracted to true competition where you really
want to defeat your opponents and I think that is also valid but it
isn't me. Ideally there should be competitions that satisfy both personality
types and I think this exists now so that's great!
FRB: What do you like about
great to see lots of people have a fun time.
FRB: Are you a slacker?
Greg: Yeah Dude.
FRB: Thanks for the interview, Greg.