The many faces of climbing: Paul

[Return to the MAIN INTERVIEW PAGE.]

Paul Winkler. 29 yo. Earned a BS in Mathematics and MA in Education. Lives in Albuqurque, NM. Originally from Hampton Bays, NY.

Paul Winkler
Creeping up Hooters V9.

THEME SONG: Oh gosh, I don’t know if I have one. If I did it would probably be something by Tribe Called Quest, though.

1) How long have you been climbing and how did you get started?I’ve been climbing for 6.5 years. I got started when I moved out to NM for a job. I was living on the reservation and there was nothing else to do besides run, which I hate, so a friend of mine and I decided to check out a local crag after acquiring some cheap gear. It was sketchy!!

 2) What do you enjoy the most about climbing?
Bouldering: It’s hard to pick one thing, so I’ll list the many things I enjoy. I love the problem-solving aspect, the idea of pushing myself to my physical limits and the absolutely gorgeous areas you get to go to.

Sport Climbing: It’s much more of a mental game, so I like the idea of resource management. You have to be able to climb sections efficiently and choose when and how long to rest.

3) What are some of your goals in life (climbing and otherwise)?Climbing wise, I’d love to nail down some class V13s and 14a. routes. I have a few in mind, but I need to broaden my horizons a little more to figure out exactly which ones.

Life wise, I want to go back to school and get my PhD and get a job that affords me a comfortable climbing lifestyle.

Paul Winkler
Paul on Feels Like Grit V8 slab climb in Joe’s Valley.

4) What are your favorite pre-and-post-climbing foods?
Before climbing I like to eat something fairly light, like oatmeal, cereal, or a bagel, etc. After climbing the greasier the better. A nice juicy burger, some BBQ, or even some disgusting fast food. I usually don’t each much on a climbing day, so afterward I like to pig out.

5) What are your thoughts on training?
It’s a must! I have far too many thoughts on training to share them all, but a nice regimented program can do wonders for your climbing. The best resource you can lay your hands on is The Rock Climber’s Training Manual by the Anderson brothers. That’s the basis for my training program and it’s the best one I’ve come across so far.

6) How, if at all, do you think your climbing has been affected by your gender?
I think the competitive nature of men has had some impact on my compulsion to get stronger. Otherwise I don’t think it’s had a major influence. A man in a male-dominated sport isn’t really anything new, but there is some kind of mentality that goes along with that.

 7) Who are your biggest athletic influences?
My friends Jason and Mike are my local-crusher influences. Aside from that I look to some of the greats like Wolfgang Gullich, Nalle Hukkataival, Ty Landman and others.

8) What advice would you have for someone trying to get into rock climbing?
First things first you should decide as early as possible if it’s something you’re only ever going to do casually or if you’re going to want to keep improving. If you decide it’s the latter, then you need to find a mentor. The best ones are not only the ones who have been climbing a long time, but those who also climb hard and are still trying to improve themselves. Find someone who climbs 5.13 or V9-10 on a regular basis. I promise you will be much less likely to stagnate because you’ll have someone to look to for motivation to improve. A little competition is good, just don’t get TOO competitive with your friends.

They Called Him Jordan V8
They Call Him Jordan V8

9) What are your hobbies/interests outside of climbing?
Even though I can’t do it anymore I still love surfing. I also love to play board games, frisbee, slack-lining.

10) If you were given the choice of never petting any cute animals again, or never rock climbing again, which would you choose?
I would definitely give up on petting animals rather than climb. That’s a pretty easy choice.

Food for Thought: Power Crepes!

Crepes? Check.

Power? Check.

With just three ingredients, you too can create your very own delicious and healthy pre-or-post climbing snack.

I’ll make this real easy, since I know you’re getting antsy just thinking of being in a kitchen.



  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas (ideally, but mine were still a bit green and that was a-okay)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

That’s it. You can add more stuff and it should be fine. Throw in a dash of cinnamon, maybe a scoop of protein powder, splash of orange juice, some blueberries or strawberries. Heck, you could probably get away with a handful of kale in there. Go crazy. Just the three above ingredients will make 8-10 crepes/pancakes, so more ingredients = MOAR CREPES! And that’s always a good thing.

Get down with the monster mash. (It was a graveyard smash.)


1. Throw everything in one big bowl [see above photo if you don’t fully understand this step]. Mash the nanners with a fork. As you press down, focus on good wrist technique. (If your wrist gets sore, you can give in and use a blender, but we’ll judge you brah.)

2. Drop a nice dollop onto a hot, greased skillet. I used coconut oil and it was tasty, but other oils or butter would be fine. Cook until each side is lightly browned.

3. Make a big fat stack and eat it just like that, or cover it will all sorts of yumminess, like maple syrup, honey, yogurt, peanut butter, nutella, fresh fruit, etc.

banana crepes
This is a photo from the original recipe.
This is what mine actually looked like…

NUTRITION:  If you made 10 pancakes and only used the ingredients of  4 eggs, 2 bananas, and 1/2 cup oats, then each tiny crepe would have about:

  • 82 calories, 4g protein, 1.5g fiber, and good doses of vitamins A/B/C, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • Add a cup of greek yogurt on top, and that’s an additional 20g protein! Plus calcium.

Rocks for Research


Last week we volunteered with Rocks for Research at the Inner Peaks Climbing Center in Charlotte, NC.

Rocks For Research is an amazingly fun and interesting rock climbing festival put on to raise money for the Type I diabetes through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Last year, the event raised $10,000 for diabetes research! (YAY!)

The volunteering day started out by casually eating lunch right next to Jimmy Webb and Daniel Woods (yeah, no big deal…). Once we were assigned to a volunteering shift, we were free to explore the event and climb to our heart’s content (again, alongside folks like the above mentioned, and also Lisa Rands, Kai, Matt Bosley, Courtney Woods… maybe you’ve heard of them?).

I pretended
I pretended to take photos of Alexa climbing, but really I just wanted a shot of Drexel joking around with Nate, Jimmy and Daniel. Sneaky sneaky!
Thumbs up for working hard!
Thumbs up for working hard! (Or hardly working?)

Alexa, Rose and I were are scheduled to help belay in the “Try Climbing” area for first-timers. Most attendees of this event were experienced climbers, so we spent a good portion of our time improving our headstands, but there were a handful of kids who were really psyched on scaling the wall! I’m not usually a softie for these kinds of things, but I definitely felt my heart clench when one boy looked up at me with these big brown eyes and told me proudly that he had Type I diabetes and how excited he was to be at this event with his friends.

On her way to greatness/straightness.

Alexa got a good work-out from belaying one boy who inexhaustibly begged to climb “just one more time” over twenty times! Seriously. I guess kids don’t build up lactic acid(?) or something, because he was INSANELY PSYCHED.

Alexa became pro at helping this boy into his harness 20+ times.
Having so much FUN!

At one point I brought this group of boys to the Evolv table, where Melise and Carter were super helpful sorting through their demo shoes to find pairs small enough for the boys to try on. I could tell the boys were really excited to wear “real climbing shoes” instead of the sneakers and crocs they had on.

Finally came the moment we had all been waiting for: the Climbing Showcase. All the pro climbers and a group of local climbers (“Pros and Joes”) teamed up to see who could get the most points by completing the hardest climbs. It was so incredible to be able to see our climbing heroes working out boulder problems right in front of our eyes. It was interesting noticing that all these strong climbers had distinctly different methods and styles for sending a problem. Jimmy and Daniel are very different sizes, so Daniel was more dynamic and had to rely more on finger strength, while Jimmy had “more raw power than anyone I’ve ever seen” (says Drexel). And I would have no idea that Kai, climbing alongside these guys and crushing a v10, was only 14 years old.

Kai showing remarkable beta-savviness as he works a v11.

When the climbing was over, there were some raffle prizes handed out, goodies were thrown into our awaiting hands (we all got some new Giddy chapsticks!), silent auction winners were finalized, and then we all settled in to watch each of the pro climbers give a presentation that included some never-before-seen video footage and a short interview with a local radio personality (who had clearly never heard of rock climbing, but he got an A for effort). I especially loved the documentary about Kai’s life and the entertaining slideshow narration by Lisa Rands.

Our day ended long after the sun had gone down. It was a full and wonderful day. We can’t wait to volunteer again next year and hope to see all of your beautiful shining faces!

Values vs. Goals

Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb. -Greg Child

image credit:

Have you ever been climbing outside when a group of tourists hike by and say, “You know, there’s an easier way up that rock around the back?”

While you might shake your head at their silly ignorance, those folks raise a really good point: Why are you sweating and grunting your way up a rock using the most difficult route possible, when your eventual goal is to get to the top?

Here’s where it might be important to take a minute to contemplate your goals and values of rock climbing.

A goal is something that can be achieved, finished, completed. If your goal is to eat an 8 oz. chocolate bar, then you can buy one and stuff the whole thing in your mouth. Tada, done.

Values are never completely accomplished. If you value consuming sugar, it’s not like you can cross this off your list after you demolish an ice cream sundae or snack on a snickers. After you finish your goal of a chocolate bar, there will always be more sugar to consume.

So as you might be coming to understand, values are a direction, not a destination, and therefore are always available to you. At any point in your life, like right NOW, you can stop and answer the question “Am I headed in my valued direction?” even if you are not yet at your final destination.

Take a moment to consider: What ARE your values when it comes to climbing? To be physically fit? To connect with friends? To seek inner peace? To be out in nature? There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to values.

Goals, unlike values, frequently involve planning and waiting. Let’s talk about Fred. While Fred’s value might be to be physically fit, his goal might be to climb a certain v10. Within this goal, there might be several steps such as working out each individual move or designating specific days of the week to working on the problem or drinking two full Nalgenes of water every morning. Several steps (or goals) might take place before the larger goal is met. However, all these goals are driven by the same value: physical fitness, which is a continuous direction. Every day that Fred reached for a goal, whether or not he reached it, he was living his values.

I think this concept is important to gain perspective in climbing. I see people getting lost in their goals without ever finding a sense of accomplishment. Frustration builds up until the joy of climbing has worn thin or actions begin to run contrary to initial underlying values. (e.g. The person who climbs to find inner peace is freaking out about falling off a seemingly easy move or because they tweaked a pulley or didn’t place well in a competition.)

So returning to the earlier example of people asking why you’re trying to climb a rock when there’s an easy hike around the back —  If the goal was to get to the top of the rock, why would any of us climb? Although one is working to get to the top of the rock, the goal in climbing must be about the experience of climbing: feeling the wind in your face, laughing with friends, noticing the pleasurable strength of your body as you use it, and being in touch with the rock.

If being a climber is what you care about and it’s about that very experience—falling off a climb and throwing a wobbler or finally sending a big project after months of hard work, then embrace the process. All of it, the good and the bad.  As most of us know from experience, larger goals may not actually occur right away. All kinds of things can get in the way. The point is, by walking through the different steps along the way, you are participating in “value-driven” behavior, even if the “outcome” is not what we thought it would be.

While participating in value-driven behavior does not guarantee outcomes, you are much more likely to reach your goals when behaving in valued ways. If I continue climbing for fun, I will probably eventually get closer to my goal of sending such-and-such a problem. Also, by engaging in various value-driven actions you can learn more about what you want in a valued domain. The ultimate question becomes, “What do you want your life to be about?”

image credit:

Feel free to share your values and goals in the comment section below.


The many faces of climbing: Melise

[Return to the MAIN INTERVIEW PAGE.]

Melise Edwards
24 y.o. Graduated from Appalachian State with a degree in Biology and French. Living in Boone, NC.

THEME SONG:  “Bastille” feat. Ella by No Angels

1) How long have you been climbing and how did you get started?
I have been climbing almost 5 years. I somehow got away with doing rock-climbing as my high-school senior research project and spent a lot of time learning from my mentor in a climbing gym. I went on one outdoor trip to do a multi-pitch climb in Pisgah National Forest and have never recovered from the “climbing bug” since.

Melise Edwards
Chompin’ down on some Portobello V9.

2) What do you enjoy the most about climbing?
It seems funny that this is such a hard question to answer. I enjoy many aspects of climbing: how it can be both an individual pursuit as well as an activity to enjoy with friends, how unique the movements are, and how mentally challenging it can be just as much as physically challenging…there are plenty of things I enjoy but the main reason may be that it just seems natural to do and it’s fun.

3) What are some of your goals in life (climbing and otherwise)
Oof. I would like to do Peace Corps one day and potentially go back to school for my masters in biology. I’d also like to climb double digits and travel all around the nation for climbing. Some of these may or may not happen, but it all comes down to following my passions, helping others and enjoying what I’m doing.

4) What are your favorite pre-and-post-climbing foods?
Pre-climbing: yogurt, fruit and any sort of chocolate. Post-climbing: salad, Mexican or Thai food, and any sort of chocolate.

5) What are your thoughts on training?
Training is gud. I’ve never climbed when I wasn’t working or in school or both, so I think training is very helpful to make gains when you only have a small amount of time to dedicate for climbing. It should be an aid but not replace basic climbing techniques.

Melise Edwards
Melise Changing Lanes V9.

6) How, if at all, do you think your climbing has been affected by your gender?
This is a hard question. There are a lot of challenges I have faced that are likely personal traits rather than gender stereotypes, but I can say that height is rarely an issue. I’m 5’4 and have learned to overcome fears of falling and become more dynamic and creative when figuring out beta. Watching climbers like Jill Church, Juliet Hammer and Michelle Melton has definitely been a huge inspiration in this regard.

One other thing may be that I’ve seen people make way more excuses for girls’ successes. If I do a climb, it is usually mentioned by someone somewhere that it’s because my small fingers or some new beta that made it V2. I don’t make excuses for other people and don’t accept it for myself. I’m strong because I train hard and try hard, not because of the size of my fingers.

7) Who are your biggest athletic influences?
I look up to so many climbers, but a lot of them are people I climb with locally for their good attitudes, sense of adventure and love of climbing.

8) What advice would you have for someone trying to get into rock climbing?
My advice for someone trying to get into climbing would be to have fun with it! Be infinitely curious, ask questions, climb with people who are better than you, but don’t respect strong climbers just because they are strong. Being strong does not make you a nicer or better person. Respect people for their character and climbs for their beauty and the ways they inspire you.

9) What are your hobbies/interests outside of climbing?
I love baking treats, reading, drawing, running, birding, trying to catch snakes and dancing to T-pain.

10) If you were given the choice of never petting any cute animals again, or never rock climbing again, which would you choose?
That question is literally my worst nightmare.

"Let meh tell you bout my best friend."
“Let meh tell you bout my best friend.”