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HelloHello Hello

Brian Runnells
late March, 2008

Brian Runnells
Brian RunnellsBrian Runnells Brian Runnells Brian Runnells

FRB: Name?

Brian: Brian Runnells

FRB: Age?

Brian: 24.

FRB: Height/Weight?

Brian: 6’2” / 160 lbs.

FRB: How did you get into climbing, Brian?

Brian: I read Into Thin Air for High School English class and decided to take a trip to the local outdoor/climbing store. It had gone out of business but in the same building was a climbing gym. I walked over, checked it out and tried climbing the next weekend. I’ve been hooked ever since.

FRB: Where do you like to climb?

Brian: Locally I have grown to appreciate climbing at Devil’s Lake. Thanks to online beta sites like Mountainproject.com I have also been exploring smaller areas I never knew existed like Governor Dodge in southwest WI. Unfortunately the rock there ranges from poor to terrible, but any climbing around here is good climbing.

Farther from home I really like climbing at HP40 and any of the areas near Bishop. I also have fond memories of climbing in RMNP. I don’t think I have ever seen a setting for bouldering that is any better. I have limited experience traveling for trad climbing but the Gunks is another great area.

FRB: Do you sport and trad climb?

Brian: I’ve always sport climbed and last year I took up trad climbing which has actually been a lot of fun while I rehab injuries.

FRB: You operate climbingnarc.com.
          What does the name mean?

Brian: At the time I started the site I was suffering from a couple of overuse injuries that I believed to be self inflicted and a result of some narcissistic personality traits. The name was a way to combine the two things that seemed to define my life at the time.

FRB: What can people find at climbingnarc.com?

Brian: I try to bring together a mix of personal climbing stories, pictures from various trips and opinions on broad climbing news. Recently, I’ve been able to create various contests to give away climbing schwag.

FRB: What was your motivation to start climbingnarc.com?

Brian: I have a very obsessive personality and I have been obsessing over reading climbing news and information ever since I started climbing. Along with being a climbing dork, I’m also a computer dork and have always had the ambition to create a web site. After I got injured last year, I started the site on a whim, hoping to use it as an outlet for my climbing obsession while I couldn’t climb.

FRB: What do you hope to accomplish
          with climbingnarc.com?

Brian: I feel like the online climbing blogosphere is still a very immature medium. There are a lot of personal blogs but very few go beyond personal stories. My goal is to create a new type of blog that is a destination in and of itself for online climbing in the same way that say Climbing Magazine is a destination for the print medium. I basically want to help bring attention and promote other people’s online climbing work as much as possible while at the same time talking about topics that interest me. This approach is very popular in other arenas like political blogs, but is something rarely seen in climbing.

FRB: Do you run/maintain climbingnarc.com yourself
          or are there other people involved?

Brian: I have had a few people help with a couple of posts but mainly it is just me. My goal is to someday have more help.

FRB: What's a typical work day for you to
          operate/maintain climbingnarc.com?

Brian: It depends on how busy I am actually working at my real job, but I spend a lot of time reading various climbing sites and blogs to see what is going on. After that I usually compile, write and tweak posts throughout a day before I post them. Beyond that I am always thinking about ideas for new posts or about other ways to improve the site. I probably spend far more time than is necessary thinking about ideas, but that is just part of the obsession.

FRB: Can you make a living from
          operating climbingnarc.com?

Brian: At this point I am donating all revenues from operating the site to climbing access issues and I foot the bill for all hosting/domain costs so I would have to say no.

FRB: Who is your typical viewer?
          Where do they live?

Brian: I get the most visitors from Colorado followed closely by Wisconsin. I would say that the audience is mostly younger climbers who are most interested in bouldering. There is also an older contingent but they tend to be less active when it comes to the discussions taking place.

FRB: What are the strong points of climbingnarc.com.

Brian: I like to think that my blog is pretty unique. With climbingnarc.com I bring the various aspects of other blogs into one place. However, I don’t operate in life with much confidence so I am always trying to make things better.

FRB: How is climbingnarc.com rated on the web?

Brian: I’m not really sure I guess. In recent months it has come to be a more respected source of interesting stories and information, but like I mentioned elsewhere: if you don’t have exclusive information in the climbing world it can be difficult to be noticed.

FRB: What are your long term goals
          for climbingnarc.com?

Brian: Right now, my goal is to continue building on the growth that has already taken place in the first year. I would like to be able to greatly expand on the donations that I am able to give to climbing access on behalf of the site as well. I am also trying to think of new ways to expand the content that is offered, but I haven’t come up with anything firm as of yet. I think the main long term goal is to still be around after 8 years like FRB☺.

FRB: What is the most difficult part of
          operating climbingnarc.com?

Brian: One aspect that makes it difficult when reporting on news stories is that I have no access to exclusive information. I don’t really know any famous climbers nor do I have any hope of being a famous climber achieving noteworthy ascents. Therefore, I try really hard to provide something extra whenever I report on news like a link or picture of a problem that maybe people aren’t seeing in the main coverage of that event.

I also constantly fear running out of ideas, but so far every time I have felt this way something worth posting about has come up.

FRB: What is the most satisfying part of
          running climbingnarc.com?

Brian: Interacting with people and seeing their positive reaction to the site is the best part. I have been fortunate to come in contact with a lot of cool people that I would have otherwise never come in contact with like Jamie Emerson, Justin Jaeger, Ryan Olson and many, many others. These types of interactions with climbers across the country are really great, and they never would have happened without the site.

FRB: What do you want people to
          get from climbingnarc.com?

Brian: Mainly I just want visiting the site to be something that helps people learn something new, and of course to help people get psyched for their own climbing.

FRB: What about you? Tell us something
          most people don't know about you.

Brian: I once had aspirations of playing poker as a profession. Luckily, I was able to both make money at it and give it up before it destroyed my life. I also have a mean backhand on the tennis courts, or at least I used too.

FRB: What else do you do besides climb
          and operate climbingnarc.com?

Brian: Unfortunately not much which is a real problem when I’m physically unable to climb. My wife and I coach a youth climbing team at our gym which gives me some outlet for my climbing energy but it is not really sufficient. I recently purchased a nicer digital SLR camera so I have been getting more into photography as a distraction from not climbing. Other than that I spend too much time watching TV shows like The Wire along with pointless reality shows like Intervention.

FRB: Who are your climbing partners.

Brian: On my advice, my wife recently took up climbing so she is my go-to partner but I climb with most anyone. I have found that not many of the people I climb with like to talk shop (or spray) as much as I do though. This is a problem when all I am good at talking about is climbing!

FRB: How would they describe you
          as a climbing partner?

Brian: They might disagree but I like to think that I am a pretty fun person to climb with. If nothing else, I am usually good for several laughs throughout the course of a session. Lately I like to think I have been a more motivating person to climb with as well.

FRB: What are your goals in your climbing career?

Brian: Just to be able to climb again would be nice! I recently found out that incessant pain I’ve been experiencing in my hands is because I am genetically pre-disposed to having incredibly flexible and loose joints which has become painful when I climb. I’m hoping that in a few more months I might be able to get back into climbing, but realistically I may never return to my previous form which would be disappointing.

If/when I ever get back to climbing I have a very, very long list of things that I would like to do. In WI I would like to explore some of the harder traditional lines at Devil’s Lake and try to repeat some of the harder bouldering lines. I would also love to spend more time bouldering out West.

FRB: What are some of your best sends?

Brian: I was especially psyched the day I climbed my only V8's ever, Hugs & Kisses and Litz Pocket Problem, at HP40 within the span of about an hour (which means they are probably not V8). I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention sending Whiskey-a-Go-Go which is a spectacular 5.13a sport route outside of Necedah, WI. It is one of the best routes I have ever been on, and I feel lucky to have been able to climb it before getting shutdown with injuries.

FRB: Final words of wisdom.

Brian: Remember, it’s all about giving back to the kids.

FRB: Thank you for the interview, Brian.

Brian: Thank you, Mike.


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