May 31, 2017
When we hired Austin we didn’t realize that we were hiring a future Evolv grassroots athlete. Austin joined the Coop team as a store associate and quickly climbed the corporate ladder and topped out as our new Assistant Store Manager. But his hard work and dedication didn’t keep him from his passion: climbing.
Like many kids, Austin started out with more traditional sports like baseball and soccer. But, eventually, they no longer fulfilled Austin’s insatiable sense of adventure and he quickly turned to more independent and self-fulfilling activities like skateboarding and rock climbing. In fact, climbing became so fulfilling that it drew him away from junior college and he committed to climbing full-time.
Photo by Lance Carrera
As a beginning climber, his first major accomplishment was getting outside. Transitioning from gym climbing to outdoors is no small feat. The style of climbing and difficulty grading are completely different than the bouldering problems set up in gyms, and finding the right places to go can be challenging as well. But Austin’s love of climbing outdoors paved an easy path to soon becoming the resident expert on places like Bishop and Black Mountain, CA. The more he went, the more Austin honed in his strength, footwork, and technique and deepened his love for the sport. That, combined with his obsessive relationship with the outdoors, led him to his next major goal: bouldering in the double digits. With the right game plan, Austin was able to wrestle his way to crushing V10s.
- Have a handful of problems that you’re ready to work
- Give yourself 5-10 burns before walking away
- Let yourself walk away
- If you’re having a bad day, go for volume- V5s all day!
Photo by Michael Lim
But all of that came to a screeching halt in November 2016 with a hurt finger. It’s amazing how such a small, seemingly insignificant part of your body can completely inhibit your climbing. It’s a frustrating injury; you’re not confined by a cast and, therefore, are eager to train and climb, but in climbing your fingers are imperative (unless you’re Tommy Caldwell of course). So Austin rested for over two months, impatiently waiting for his finger to heal. He spent his down time working out as much as possible focusing on anterior muscles, cardio, and staying in the best shape he could manage.
Photo by Ed Ruiz
Sometimes an injury means more than you didn’t warm up properly; sometimes it’s your body’s way of telling you, “You need a fucking break!” For Austin, it was certainly the latter of the two. When Austin came back from his injury he came back with a new, more positive attitude which had a huge effect in his climbing. Throughout April and May of 2017, Austin had the best 6 weeks of sending to date. He managed to send 9 double digit boulder problems! Currently, he has 17 V10s and 4 V11s under his belt and Austin is ready and psyched to push his limits, send his first V12, and hopefully follow that with his lifetime goal of climbing V13.
Photo by Ed Ruiz
Even though Austin is predominantly a boulderer, he has also spent some time tied into a rope. He followed fellow Coopers, Natalie and Ed, on his first multi-pitch in Red Rocks and he did it like any transitioning boulderer: out of the crack and crimping on whatever he could find on the face. But if Austin has proven anything in his climbing, it’s that he can master any technique when he puts his mind to it. So if bouldering ever loses its allure as baseball and soccer did, Austin won’t be turning to a new sport. He is lucky to have stumbled into an activity that continues to grow in both difficulty and interpretation because, just as the romantics of the world might tell you, Austin believes everyone gets a single soulmate per lifetime. Austin’s true love is and will always be climbing.