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HelloHello Hello

Nicole Gravagna
late February, 2008

Nicole Gravagna
Nicole Gravagna Nicole Gravagna Nicole Gravagna Nicole Gravagna

FRB: Name?

Nicole: Nicole Gravagna

FRB: Age?

Nicole: 31.

FRB: Height/Weight?

Nicole: 5'7"/127 lbs.

FRB: Political affiliation?

Nicole: Democrat, all the way.

FRB: How did you get into climbing, Nicole?

Nicole: I got a taste for rock when I was 12. I went to some adventure camp where they hauled us kids into the woods of Virginia (to what I would now consider a choss pile) and strung up top ropes. They were calling me "spider girl" by the end of the day because I was the only one who got to the top. Then, when I was 23, some friends dragged me to an indoor rock gym (a shout out to EarthTreks, Columbia, MD) and I have been hooked ever since.

FRB: You're from Maryland then?

Nicole: Yes, I've lived all over that little state. I was in Baltimore most recently. Great city, not enough rocks.

FRB: Sport, trad or bouldering?

Nicole: I like all three for the different aspects. I am chicken when it comes to bone-shattering falls, so I like sport for the rope/safety aspect. I can try crazy moves and the rope catches me when I don't stick it. I like bouldering for the social aspect. I love working the details with other people. They can be complete strangers - three or four people totally engaged in just getting to the next hold. It's an inane and beautiful temporary relationship. Trad is the final frontier for me. My head for exposure is not together yet. I think I'll get past it eventually.

FRB: Who were some of your early inspirations?
          (in climbing)

Nicole: I am motivated by success. Mine and other's. I think early, I was inspired by the people cheering for me. Now I'm inspired by the newbees. My inspiration comes from the 5.9 climber who leads the 5.10- even if they have to hang-dog all the way up. The progress that new climbers make is amazing. In a few months time they can improve by a whole grade. Amazing. It reminds me that it's not about how hard you climb now, its about how hard you might climb tomorrow. Pushing it. Trying hard.

FRB: Who do you climb with these days, Nicole?

Nicole: I climb with Fred, my husband. We love to go out in groups and make a day/weekend of it. Call us. We'll come out. We are often in that disgustingly big group at Shelf road. You know, the one that makes you want to change crags.

FRB: Tell us one of your best days out climbing.

Nicole: I just had a spectacular day at Flagstaff Mountain a few weeks ago. It was my first time. I've only been here two years and I haven't seen all the crags yet. I didn't get on anything harder than V4, but I flashed the Monkey Traverse (AKA, Long Traverse) with every move dictated to me. It was like square dancing. "Spin your partner, come on folks, cross through, get the knee bar rest!" (Thanks, Hip Hop!) It was just good to get out in the sun. Honestly, I am having trouble remembering a bad day climbing.

FRB: You compete indoors, as well?

Nicole: Yep, I love the comps. I'm not sure why, I'm all not that competitive. It's a fun game to push myself to see how many points I can collect in a set amount of time. It's like an easter egg hunt. Where are the points? Are they at the top of the stem problem, or maybe at the top of that heel-hook problem?

FRB: What comps. did you do well in, Nicole?

Nicole: I guess I feel like I've done well in all the comps I've entered. The group energy helps me push harder than I can on a normal training day. If you mean scores, I've done well at the last two Spot comps. I took second in Women's Open at the last Spot comp. I won a rope at the Lakewood Rec Center Comp in January for Women's Open. Thanks, Blue Water! Thanks, Lakewood Link!

FRB: Favorite places to climb indoors and outdoors?

Nicole: Boulder Canyon, Shelf Road, El Rito, Rifle. I don't revisit the same crag very often. There is too much new rock for me here. I am still exploring. Indoors, I am happy with the closest gym to me - Rock'N & Jam'N in Thornton. It's a healthy, productive training scene.

FRB: What are some of your hardest sends?

Nicole: You know, I haven't started chasing the ratings yet. I mentally note my most challenging onsights. Two summers ago I got a sustained 11a/b/c (who knows?) in Boulder Canyon called "Bad Girls Get Spanked". I thought it was hard. I onsighted it and I was pretty proud of myself. There was a route at the Mammoth Wall at Shelf last spring (11c/d maybe). I got the onsight, but it didn't feel hard. I guess it was my style. Ratings are funny. Maybe this year I'll see how big I can get the numbers. Maybe I'll even project something!

FRB: How do you train for indoors and outdoors?

Nicole: I gym train twice a week, religiously. I get outside as often as I can. Work/School gets in the way. I try to do some yoga to help balance all the climbing. It's dangerous to get focused on one intense sport. Cross training is key to staying healthy and injury free. I know I should cross train more, but whenever I have a free day, I would rather climb.

FRB: Sponsors?

Nicole: Geez, I wish. Shoe deal anyone? I have beautiful feet! I'll take my socks off for photos if you want.

FRB: How and why do you climb in socks?

Nicole: Fred has always climbed in socks and I thought he was crazy. But he climbs harder than me, so it can't be that bad. I thought you can't feel the rock, right? Well, after we moved here and climbed in the hot sun up some slabby Lumpy Ridge multi pitch route, I figured socks had to be better than sweaty, slipping around in my shoes, blister building grossness. I got some thin cotton socks from Target and I've never looked back. I wear them in comps too. Guess what? My climbing shoes don't stink either. It's really a win/win situation. And at the end of the night in the gym, the collective foot odor makes me wish everyone would come to the sock side.

FRB: What other sports do you do, Nicole?

Nicole: I used to mountain bike. That was in Maryland where the "mountain" was a hill in someone's back woods and the worst thing was mosquitos. There it's all mud and fallen leaves and log hopping. In Colorado, I'm a little scared of biking on cliffs and rocks. It all comes back to the fear of bone-shattering falls. Can drinking beer be a sport? I'm good at that.

FRB: Professional interests/ fields of specialty.

Nicole: I'm in school. I've got a year or so left before I am done working on my PhD in Neuroscience. It sounds hard, but its just like climbing - it's all about
problem solving.

FRB: What are some of your goals professionally
          and in climbing?

Nicole: My main goal right now is to stop working so much so I can enjoy this lovely state and all the rock. Goal 1: Graduate. Goal 2: climb more. Fred and I have vowed to check out Utah and Wyoming this year. We hope to spend more time at Rifle too.

FRB: What would you suggest to someone
           who wants to compete well?

Nicole: Study yourself. Find patterns. What can you eat that makes you feel better, more energetic? What can you do to warm up earlier in the day? Then, at the comp, get into it. Love it. Have fun. You can't do well if you are scared and nervous. Climb the highest point value routes that look like your style. Also, support other climbers. Climb friendly and if you don't win, then at least you had a good time and probably got in a heck of a workout.

FRB: Thank you for the interview, Nicole.

Nicole: Thank you.


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