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Hello Hello Hello

A brief interview with
Jeff Achey

mid September, 2003

Jeff Achey Jeff Achey Jeff Achey Jeff Achey Jeff Achey


FRB: How did you get into climbing Jeff?

Jeff: My first climbs were at summer camp in central New Jersey.

FRB: Who were some of your early climbing partners?

Jeff: In high school, my classmates Bob Palais and Mark Sonnenfeld were the most important, and went on to glory in the Harvard and Dartmouth Mountaineering Clubs, respectively. Bob introduced us to famous climbers such as Jimmy Dunn who he knew from New Hampshire, while climbing with Mark put me on the fast track through the grades.

FRB: What are some of your early first ascents?

Jeff: Trapeze at the Cradle Rock boulders in Princeton was one of my proudest.

FRB: What else do you do besides climb?

Jeff: I enjoy reading. I used to enjoy political argument, until recently.

FRB: What are your duties at Climbing Mag?

Jeff: I oversee all editorial content, but naturally I spend most of my work week simply climbing so as to be a good ambassador for our title.

FRB: Who owns Climbing Mag?

Jeff: We are part of the Action Sports Group of Primedia, a group that also includes Powder, Canoe & Kayak, and some other nice mags. Primedia itself also owns Soap Opera Digest and many influential automotive titles such as Lowrider and Corvette Fever.

FRB: What is a typical day for the
          editor of Climbing Mag?

Jeff: Well, on the rare days that I'm not simply out climbing so as to be a good ambassador for our title, I assign articles; plan the editorial schedule; edit; work with the other editors; work with the art director, production manager, and publisher; make sure people get paid; research stories; write columns, short stories, and features; answer phone calls; answer e-mails; do the budget; consult with the Access Fund, Leave No Trace, and other important organizations; and do the occasional e-mail interview.

FRB: How did you get the job?

Jeff: Bribery.

FRB: Why is there so-much staff changes at
          Climbing & Rock and Ice?

Jeff: That's a long story. I think in the future, however, you'll see a lot more stability.

FRB: What is the 'downside' of working at
          a climbing magazine?

Jeff: Every day, in graphic detail, you get to see how thoroughly off the back you are in your own climbing.

FRB: Why does it seem that the climbing publications
          'ignore' what goes on in Boulder?

Jeff: Maybe it's an effect of gravity, similar to a Black Hole. Since Boulder is the center of the known universe, and has such psychic mass, all information falls back into the core and never reaches the outside world. It's really a shame, because I know the rest of the world would really like to hear much more about Boulder.

FRB: Is there any good climbing/bouldering in
          Summit County? (besides Rifle)

Jeff: We West Slope climbers consider Summit County to be part of the Front Range. But if you mean here, yeah, there is killer bouldering in Garfield and Pitkin counties.

FRB: Where/how do you train up in the hills?

Jeff: When I learned to climb, training was considered cheating. It was something that only Californians did. I do climb on plastic, limestone, granite, sandstone, and run/ski/bike in the hills, but I never train.

FRB: Where (in your opinion) is the best bouldering
          in the Front Range?

Jeff: Lost Canyon in Pueblo was one of my favorites. Or, maybe the Hobo Cave at the base of the Flagstaff trail, where I have several unrepeated routes that are surely covered with campfire soot. The Mental Block at Horsetooth. I moved from Boulder in 1988 so I haven't visited most of the newer areas, but I'd like to.

FRB: How does the present day stack up
          to the 'Old Days'?

Jeff: It all seems more modern now. And everyone seems younger.

FRB: What do you dislike about 'modern climbing'?

Jeff: I'm pretty accepting of change, I think. Younger climbers have taught me a lot, and I climb better for that. I do hope the new urban element in our sport doesn't have the wrong effect on our relationship with the environmental community and land managers. For the first time, climbing may be a young person's first exposure to an outdoor activity. This gives us a great opportunity to educate, and as a magazine editor I like to focus on that aspect, but I know the urban scene also poses risks. I dislike it when modern boulderers, or climbers, treat the land disrespectfully. For any of us, urban or otherwise, it's all too easy to get caught up in our own goals and lose sight of the bigger picture.

FRB: In closing, any words of wisdom.

Jeff: Hmm. Let's see, wisdom for FrontRangeBouldering.com... Several times in the late 1970's I bouldered with John Gill. One thing that struck me was that Gill never tried to figure out the easiest way to do a problem. He put a lot of emphasis on form and grace. I'm not saying that's the best way to boulder, but I think there is wisdom to be gained by pondering what that kind of approach is all about, and where it leads.

FRB: thank you the interview Jeff?

Jeff: You're welcome.

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