My next ‘Dark Horse’ isn’t so much a ‘horse’ as a stallion! A man who pulls down so hard that his hair has fell out! A raw crushing machine running on the powder of trodden down baby bones and lion’s blood. Okay ladies he’s single, but be warned – he eats his partners after mating. People i give you…..THE CLAW!!!
1. Will you marry me?
Oh George, you’re such a ‘bloody minga’…
2. ‘The Claw’ – how did that name come about? Why do you think you’re called that?
I believe YOU started calling me that. Maybe it’s because of the way my hand magically transforms into a hideously beautiful gnarled claw-like extension of my body as I crimp and pull my way up rock faces.
3. You seem to have the ability to switch to climbing consistently hard both in sport and bouldering, what’s the secret?!?
Drink a lot of cheap beer. The secret is in the water we use over here to brew our delicious lagers.
Truthfully, I started out on the rope, switched to the boulder, then came crawling back to the rope. I think my weak point is roped climbing. Bouldering has always come naturally to me, but lately I’ve been sucking at both. Bouldering is over so quickly that if you can just bone down for a few hard moves you will eventually find yourself standing on top. Roped climbing is all about consistency, breathing, resting, and knowing when to really pull hard and when to relax. Oh yeah, beta is always nice too…
4. How do your motivations fluctuate through the year? Do you think you have defined ‘seasons’ within your climbing?
Well, the biggest season in this part of the country is basically March-October. A nice window but definitely not a year round spot. Of course there are the occasional trips to Bishop and other sunnier, drier destinations but there is so much of a fucking trek involved that the motivation (and bank account) has to be high.
My motivations rely heavily on two things:
Trying new things (i.e. getting to new destinations and trying what those destinations have to offer), and trying old things (i.e. projecting the hell out of some route or boulder problem until it yields to my demands).
I stay pretty motivated throughout the whole year though. I always have something to look forward to, whether it’s the start of a new climbing season or the end of one. When Spring roles around I’m psyched to get back outside and re-train my brain on how to move up and over real rock. When winter roles around I’m psyched to get back in the gym and work hard to prepare myself for the next season – of course injury is a total buzz-kill, I’ve had many injuries in the last three years but they always seem to come and go during the winter season.
5. Who/what inspires you most in climbing?
What: Effort! I love to see people trying HARD! Doesn’t matter about the grade.
Who: Chris Fucking Sharma! This dude tries hard ALL THE TIME! Sure, I enjoy watching other people climb but I have a certain affinity for Chris (and Jonny G of course?!? – George). Maybe it’s the way his hair falls perfectly back into place after a breath taking dyno. Or maybe the way his chest hair is perfectly sculpted to his…uh…oh…never mind.
In all honesty I draw my inspiration from the people around me who put all they have into climbing and who want to see their friend’s progress with them.
6. Tell me about the guys and girls that you climb with; how much is your personal style dictated by those around you?
Well, unfortunately I don’t climb with many girls. Not sure why? I’m consistently climbing with the same group of people though. Dom and Laura are my go to guys. They pretty much are the reason why I get out so much and expose myself to new places in Washington. Without them I’d probably end up at Little Si every weekend. I met Dom through Laura, I actually hired Laura to work at the rock gym at the college we both attended. She later introduced me to Dom, and at that point I had probably been climbing for about a year and only 4-5 times outside. After meeting Dom and Laura however everything changed and I got hooked on climbing outside (oh yeah and filling out my 8a.nu scorecard) I’ve pretty much been climbing with them for the last 4 years (?) or so, and have moulded my outdoor approach to climbing around their ethics and insights. They are both incredibly straight forward, funny, friendly, and down to earth people. Not sure where I would be or who I would be without them.
Another huge player in my climbing development has been a cool cat named Nicholas Isaac Mathis (A.K.A THE man – George). Nick is responsible for a lot of the success I’ve had in the bouldering world. He is sooooo psyched ALL the time, and his positive attitude and high energy personality is contagious. He’s out on the East Coast right now pursuing his BSN, so big props to Nick for following his dreams and foregoing a lot of climbing time to become an even more well rounded individual. Nick is definitely one of the people that inspire me to do better in climbing and in life as well, just an all around good guy.
Last but definitely not least is Jimmy Chulich and his sister Lisa. Jimmy is the ‘young gun’ in our crew and has been absolutely CRUSHING lately. Jimmy has been a good example to me of what HARD WORK is all about. He walks a pretty straight path as far as his view on life and climbing is concerned and he rarely deviates from that path. It shows in his ability to focus when its time to send something hard (most of the time he flashes it though, which is just a testament to how hard this guy can focus and commit to something). His sister Lisa is also a good example of how training pays off and they both make up an element of my life that is hard to adhere to, which is regimented, strict, and good old fashioned hard work and consistency. I’m making them sound like gym rat robots or something but they are also just teenagers and have impacted this small climbing community greatly with their efforts to support people in the progression and enthusiasm of climbing.
7. Where would you like to see your personal progression in the next few years?
Hmmm, in the next few years I’ll be 30!! Shit, that hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’ll be old and irrelevant but still trying hard.
My goals are to stay injury free so I can climb all the time. I’d love to start consistently onsighting 12’s and redpointing in the 5.13 range. As for bouldering, well, I’m not quite sure. If I could maintain the level of bouldering that I was achieving in the Summer of ’08 that would make me happy. But I just don’t think there are that many soft V8’s and 9’s left in the world. The ultimate goal is to send .14a, I think it’s possible.
8. How much do you see climbing in the gym as just a way to kill time between road trips? Is being out in nature as important to you as pulling down hard and giving it ‘claw’?
Climbing in the gym is like lifting weights. It just gets you in shape for what you really want to be doing. I’m rarely psyched to climb in the gym but I know it’s just something I have to do to keep from getting complacent, lazy, and fat. Plus, if you train right, you will avoid more injuries. I’ve been more psyched on gym climbing lately since I’ve started setting at the Warehouse.
They balance each other. Being out in nature is probably one of the major elements to why I gravitate to climbing so much. When you visit a new destination or environment it’s awesome to take in the sights and enjoy the wildlife and such, but climbing adds a new element to that experience. You feel as if you have actually become a part of your surroundings through connecting with the rock and in some ways mastering it, but ultimately respecting it. If a crag is located in a beautiful environment, then that beauty can almost balance out the fact that the routes might climb like shit, or the rock is bad, or something like that. The converse is true as well. If your surroundings are shit and the climbs are brilliant it can almost detract from the climbs themselves. But, in the end, we’re not artists, we’re climbers.
9. I remember hearing about the Access Fund through you, how important is this to you still?
Access what now? I’m confused…(errr whoops maybe it wasn’t you then…… – George)
10. Do you have a message for the kids out there?
1. Stop being so humble, you’re not that great.
2. Don’t do sleep and get 8 hours of drugs.
3. Stop acting like little bitches all the time.
4. Have as much sex as you possibly can now, because when you get older shit stops working.
5. Noone loves you as much as you love yourself.
I think that’s about it. Thanks for all the great questions George. Have fun climbing those mountains and herding those sheep, or whatever it is you do over there.
The living legend that is Micah Humphrey there folks. Poetically insightful answers belying his crazed madman exterior. I’d like to wish you a good old British ‘cheers mate’ (American: Why thank you kindly good sir)!