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Hello Hello Hello

A brief interview with
Dan Howley

mid April, 2003

Dan Howley Dan Howley Dan Howley Dan Howley Dan Howley

FRB: How did you get into climbing Dan?

Dan: I grew up on the east coast and did my under-grad schooling out there. When I graduated I moved to Boulder, Colorado. The rest is simple math.

FRB: Who were some of your early climbing partners?

Dan: Dan Smith was my very first partner. I saw a trad rack at his house and just about lost my shit. We went climbing the next day and didn't take a day off for many moons following. Shortly after that first, fateful day we met Ashley Woods. The three of us have been friends and partners ever since. Other earlier partners include Jim Garber, David Speyrer, Jedd Buckner, Ted Horton, Kevin & Janet Vowles, John Diehl, and on. My friend Chris Eng introduced alpine climbing and big mountains to my world and I truly appreciate an eye-opening outing I had up at Lumpy with Steve Levin early on. I can't thank the people that I've climbed with enough.

FRB: What else do you like to do besides climb?

Dan: I enjoy doing a lot of things. Life is full of variety and great stuff to do. If I have my choice of things to do outside, climbing is definitely my #1 passion. Between bouldering, trad climbing, sport, alpine, etc. there isn't a lot of room for other things. I do enjoy burning a couple of hours on my road bike and my girlfriend Jessica just got me a mountain bike so I'm looking forward to getting into that. I'm trying DAMN hard to find a couple of days for us to sneak off for a surfing trip. I'm always psyched to steal away some time for a game of chess or some good reading but of course the first thing you'll catch me doing besides climbing is working at The Spot.

FRB: What made you decide to open your own rock gym?

Dan: Who doesn't want to have their very own enormous, freestanding boulders? Really though … first and foremost was the need for more indoor climbing space in Boulder. (There are SO many climbers here.) As well, we recognized that the new gyms popping up weren't being designed right. (Not enough terrain dedicated to bouldering, not enough space for fall-zones and resting comfortably, old-school & low-budget technologies, and not enough cool extras like The Spot's Café & Body-Arts center.)

FRB: What's it like running The Spot?

Dan: Wow … well, it's a lot of work but its fantastic, a huge treat! Running any 'startup' business is hard but exciting and full of rewards. Every day has a new challenge and a new blessing I didn't expect. I get to work with some of the best people I know in a cool environment. Another plus is now that the gym is open, I finally get to see all of my friends again and I've met tons of great new folks who come to climb at The Spot. I AM looking forward to hammering down our systems better so that I'll be able to get some more climbing in but 'all in good time'.

FRB: What programs do you offer?

Dan: Climbing wise: The Spot has a bunch of Programs. We do group classes and privates - indoor & outdoor. We offer intro and advanced bouldering, roped climbing, and gear placement classes for all ages. We have a series of Indoor Climbing Camp sessions for kids starting up right now.

We do birthday parties and the like. We have a couple of specialty clinics coming up for Advanced Anchor Placements and Self Rescue which should be really exciting.

We also have a variety of non-climbing offerings through The Spot's Body Arts Center ranging from Yoga Classes to Stretching & Sports Conditioning. Everyone should check 'em out and take care of their bodies a little better.

FRB: How did your comp season go?

Dan: Awesome! We saw everything from Chris Sharma blowing the doors off of the PCA 'Boulder Brawl' comp to a joint-effort comp with the super crew from the BRC to several of our own blockbuster ABS comps here at The Spot. We kept comps in mind when we designed this facility and it paid off according to all of the feedback from competitors and spectators! We can't wait until next season.

FRB: How many comps next season?

Dan: Good question. We haven't nailed down the numbers and dates just yet. We'll probably host a mix of some regular comps, a couple of 'rock-the-house' big events, and a few more 'festival' type events. I'm totally open to developing new ideas. We just want to have as much fun as possible.

FRB: How about festivals or outdoor events... any planned?

Dan: We're really psyched to do some fun events this summer and fall. Nothing is set in stone yet but we're looking forward to doing some fundraisers and parties here at The Spot and we'll surely be involved in some outdoor events and cleanups. We've been kickin' a couple of ideas around here and Matty-O and I just spoke with the other day to see about the possibility of doing another joint event that could be fun for all.

FRB: What about course-setting. Who are your setters?

Dan: We are truly blessed with an amazingly talented route-setting staff. Of all of the great comments and feedback we've gotten since opening, "excellent routes" and "great turnover" have always been on the top of the list. People just can't say enough good things about the climbing at The Spot. The regular core of our setting crew is Dan Smith, Dale Remsburg, Emily Stewart, Scott Rennak, Jamie Emerson, Matt Segal, and Caroline Treadway. We've also had the special pleasure of having Obe Carrion, Mike Auldridge, Scott Mechler, Ty Foose, Ryan Spence, Francois LeGrand, and others set here. They make the magic happen.

FRB: Can you clarify your rating system (the spots)??

Dan: Sure. The difficulty of every problem is rated on a scale from one to five (as indicated by the number of spots). 'One-spot' problems are the most moderate and 'five-spot' problems are the most difficult. Only having five ratings makes for a large range of difficulty per grade but it has been really well received. The rating of problems hasn't taken long to become much more consistent as well (which everyone appreciates).

FRB: What's the down side of owning/running a bouldering gym?

Dan: That's tough. For the most part, I feel like I'm on top of the world. Running any business has its issues but running The Spot is mostly just a damn good time. I guess the major downside is that the gym can be a HUGE tease sometimes when I'm dying for a good session and either need to work or rest. The buzz just beckons you to climb!

FRB: What advice do you give to people just starting out in indoor climbing?

Dan: Have fun, be good to your tendons, get to know the climber next to you, and remember that there is a world of experiences to be had (indoors and out) and they're ALL equally valuable.

FRB: Thanks for the interview Dan?

Dan: My pleasure. Thanks for FRB. You guys rule.

Competition and Spot links:
Body Arts Center
The Spot's Home Page
Spot Programs
The Spot Café


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