FRB: How did you get into climbing
was a high school kid in Boise, Idaho. I was with a bunch of friends
in a quarry. We were all kinda high - if you know what I mean - and
we began groping all the white spots on the quarried boulders. That
was it. A few weeks later I had a pair of EBís - it was the early 80ís
- and we were bouldering almost every day.
FRB: How long have you climbed for?
Iíve been climbing for over 20 years. I started as a boulderer - when
it was considered to be the silliest branch of climbing. I went on to
trad cragging, big walls, sport climbing, comps, and ice/mixed. Iím
currently psyched on alpine climbing. No - alpine climbing isnít mountaineering.
It is technically demanding climbing with all the accompanying mountain
hazards. Iíve climbed some big numbers on rock and ice, but the challenge
of putting it all together in the mountains is currently the most gratifying
experience I enjoy.
FRB: How did you get the name 'Big Wall Pete'?
I was in the Valley in the
late 80ís and had a really hard time getting up my first big wall. I
think I tried the South Face of Washington Column twice before getting
it. The Nose must have taken 6 times. My bros, bless their hearts, gave
me the nickname ďBig Wall PeteĒ. A few years later I was as experienced
and jaded as most wall climbers. I spent over 60 nights in portaledges
FRB: You've climbed a long time.
what keeps you
Iíve been climbing for over
20 years. Throughout that time Iíve specialized in each facet of the
sport. Right now I am into alpine climbing. Itís the variety and cross-pollination
of disciplines that keeps me interested. Climbing is scalable - both
in the literal and metaphorical sense. It has something unique to offer
the participant at any given time.
FRB: Who were some of your early mentors?
Pete: No one in particular.
All of us who started were self-taught for the most part. Two very influential
books come to mind - Robbinís Basic Rockcraft and Advanced Rockcraft.
These two guides provided some solid, albeit sometimes outdated advice.
Some times weíd be at the crag, one hand on the rope and the other holding
the book open to make sure we were doing things right.
FRB: Who were some of your
Pete: Cade Lloyd was my buddy
in climb in Idaho. We started climbing together in the 80ís. Chris Snyder
was my bro in the early days in Yosemite and Jeff Perrin and I climbed
a bunch of walls together in the early 90ís.
FRB: You spent years in the Valley.
you make a living there?
What did you
Pete: I was a bus boy at the
Four Seasons and the Mountain Room Broiler in Yosemite. I could give
my best energy to climbing during the day and give whatever was left
over to the Curry Company at night. A few times we fixed pitches on
El Cap in the week and finished the route over the weekend. I remember
barely making it to my shift on Monday evening with 15 minutes to spare
- surreal In the Valley, I did everything from long trad routes, hard
walls like Aurora, boulder problems like Midnight Lightning, first ascents
up to 5.13b. One of my best memories was flashing Tales of Power on
Halloween 1987 and getting drunk on the roof of the Ahwahnee at night.
I almost fell through the skylight into a party.
FRB: What do you derive from
a lifetime of
Pete: Freedom and a lot of great
FRB: What are some of the sacrifices you've made
to live a life
Pete: Iíve passed up on careers
and lost more than one potential relationship to go climbing. There
have been times that Iíve resented how much climbing has pervaded my
life. But life is all about choices. I feel it is good to not view climbing
as an answer to our issues or something that will transform us. It is
an activity, a passion sometimes, maybe an addiction at certain points
in our lives, but always a gift.
FRB: You've done many audacious climbs.
What are some
of your sends you are
most proud of?
Pete: I donít feel Iíve really
done anything audacious besides some ill-advised free soloing. We used
to go on cragging trips with only a pair of shoes and a chalkbag. I
on-sight soloed up to 11b, but I wouldnít do it again. Though last night
we had some beers and moonlight highballed at Sanitas Our attempts on
Meru Sharksfin in the Himalayas was way intense. It was like living
under the gun for days on end. The sends I am most proud of are the
ones I remember most. Flashing Never Believe (12d) in Rifle was a surreal
sport climbing moment. That was 10 years agoÖ Redpointing Path (13c)
is burned into my brain. I remember being so pumped I could barely clip
the belay off the openhanded jugs.
FRB: You must have had many interesting
you share some more
of them with
Pete: Not enough room here.
Please read my book - Peteís Wicked Book.
FRB: What else do you like to do besides climb?
am a writer for several periodicals and a published author. I am trying
to sell another book as the next step in my writing career. I have a
day job - I work at an agency called Texture Media as a Content Designer.
We do a Experience Design, an emergent field that encompasses a wide
range of engaging areas. Skills like writing, editing, and information
strategy play a key role.
FRB: You have a web site.
What's that for?
Pete: Spray (ha ha). PeteTakeda.com
is a portfolio site that tells the viewer a little about myself and
showcases some of my writing. Itís a great way to avoid send resumes
and portfolios around.
FRB: Do you have any books you've written?
Pete: Iíve written two - one
is a compilation of stories called Peteís Wicked Book, published by
Prime Media. The other is an introductory book called Climb!, published
by National Geographic.
FRB: How about your photography.
Where can we
see some of your photos?
Pete: Check out my website
petetakeda.com or buy my book
- Climb! by National Geographic.
FRB: Have you done any first ascents?
Pete: Iíve done a stack from
boulders to Big Walls. I feel that the best things are yet to come.
It would be great to do a first o a fine alpine climb. Than would top
FRB: What do you think of enhancing, chipping and
Pete: I think it sucks, though
I have done it on crappy rock to create sport routes. To me it seems
amazing that I cared enough about climbing a certain piece of rock to
resort to any of the above. Of course, Iíve drilled long rivet ladders
to climb certain big walls - in a way, itís hard to differentiate between
that and chipping. The rock in our country is a limited resource so
we have to respect it and leave something hard for the next generation.
In the long run, something we chip or glue wonít really be memorable.
Plus there are so many routes we havenít done. Why bother with all that
FRB: What brings you to the Front Range?
I wanted to live in Boulder since I was a high schooler. It took over
a decade to get here, but I am psyched. Boulder is the best place Iíve
ever lived. Climbing, great work, and an advanced social scene we have
FRB: Do you compete?
Pete: I competed in the late
80ís in national sport comps. I never made it to the semifinals. I think
I placed 15th in the Phoenix Bouldering comp in 1988 or 87. I competed
in Ouray for ice/mixed in 1998 and did well - won the mixed and came
in 3rd overall. Next year - 1999 X Games ice climbing - second or third
from the bottom! I think certain climbers are great competitors. I am
FRB: Where do you think the best bouldering
in the Front
Pete: Oooh thatís tough. I
am no expert, but the areas that really impress me are 287 boulders
above Fort Collins and the problems in Crested Butte. Great rock, singular
problems, great setting - these two areas have it all.
FRB: Do you have any favorite problems or
ones that you
thought were incredible?
Pete: Germ Free Adolescence,
Kahuna Roof, Midnight Lightning, Thriller (though I never did the last
move). About six problems in the Tapovan boulder field in the Indian
FRB: Climbing is constantly evolving,
where do you
think it is going?
Pete: Itís getting big, bad,
and bold! It seems that all facets of climbing are experiencing a increase
in overall technical and performance standards. Sport climbing saved
the sport - or should I say influenced it in a number of ways. Climbers
are stronger. Climbers have a greater sense of athleticism. The climbing
populace is now drawn from a bigger gene pool - increasing the overall
talent and bringing young positive energy into the sport. The resonant
energy influences everything from indoor bouldering to high altitude
FRB: Do you have any projects right now?
Pete: No projects. I am psyched
on climbing in the high country and taking some big trips. I used to
be very project oriented, but I am in a phase where I want to be very
spontaneous and climb whatever looks good. That might change in the
future, but for right now it s the plan of no plan.
FRB: What do you suggest to people who
are just starting
Pete: Have fun. Do it for kicks.
Enjoy failing. Savor victory.
FRB: What are your thoughts on Highballing.
Pete: Highballing is beautiful.
It blurs the line between the boulder and the free solo. It extends
the powerful bouldering mentality into the realm of bigger things. We
can see evidence of highballing/soloing/bouldering as legitimate route
training with the number of strong climbers emerging with bouldering
as a key training base. Plus, look at Matt Sametís 5.13c X route in
the Flatirons. That route points to the future. Similar skills allow
allowed someone like Leo Houlding to nearly on-sight an all-free El
FRB: What do you suggest for training.
Pete: I used to train hard,
stuff like 300 chin-ups sessions, fingerboarding, and weight training.
That was great and all, but it got to be a lot of work and took a lot
of time. Plus I got really good at training, but not as good at climbing.
I really think that sustainable training is to learn to have fun and
be consistent without becoming a slave to the activity. We have so many
resources - the climbing gym, woodies, stacks of great rock - itís almost
a matter of picking and choosing. I am no expert, but it seems like
volume of training i.e. doing a shitload of climbing whether its bouldering
or pitches, in a session is what gets you strong and not injured. But
then again, what do I know.
FRB: Do you ever hit a plateau in your climbing?
How do you overcome
Pete: Iíve hit so many plateaus
that I canít even remember. It seems like you can train through plateaus
but eventually you hit a solid wall. The best thing Iíve done to manage
the wall is quit climbing and do other activities. The rest and rejuvenation
of psyche always seems to work .
FRB: How do you deal with injuries?
Pete: Iíve had some bad injuries
in my fingers over the years. The best thing for me is to go off and
do something completely different for a long time . There is plenty
to do and our climbing careers last a very long time. There is plenty
of time to do other things, get strong in other areas, and recharge
FRB: How do you train for hard bouldering?
Pete: I donít boulder hard
anymore, ha ha. For a problem that is hard for me, I might try to get
lighter and work on weaknesses. I did a first ascent on a boulder in
India - probably V8. All I did was loose some weight and increased my
volume on bouldering days. One thing thatís helped everything I do is
improving my VO2 max. Running, cycling, hiking really help my power.
FRB: Parting words of wisdom Pete.
Pete: Climbing is a powerful
vehicle for empowerment and self-awareness. It is also a highly addictive
experience and a great way to avoid reality. The good barometer to gauge
itís quality is - are you enjoying it? Have fun!
FRB: Thanks for the interview Pete.
Pete: Youíre welcome.