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Mixed Climbing Athletes To Watch


2013 Sam Elias.jpg

Sam Elias
I was born on August 25, 1982 in southeastern Michigan, where my family still resides. I currently live in the state of Colorado. Climbing is a driving passion for my life. I have been fortunate to feel an innate connection to its practice from the beginning, and I have structured my life so that I can be dedicated to it.

Before climbing, my life was consumed with alpine skiing and ski racing. I have skied for nearly 25 years now, since I was 2 ½ years old. I began racing at the age of 12, and when I was 16 I moved from Michigan to Salt Lake City, UT to attend a ski racing academy. After that, I was recruited to ski race for a small liberal arts college in Idaho. I still ski frequently, both on and off piste.  It is such a pleasure to be outside and in the mountains, and I experience a great sense of freedom and peace there.

I was introduced to climbing through sport climbing, and it is my main pursuit. However, I enjoy many styles; traditional climbing, bouldering, deep water soloing, and most recently ice and winter mixed (M) climbing/dry tooling. The quest to understand myself through climbing has deeply enriched my life, and for this I am eternally grateful. As a result, I feel a responsibility to continue to explore within the pursuit for as long as I am motivated and capable.

In addition to practicing as an athlete, I have had many fortunate employment positions within the climbing and greater outdoor industry. I have worked as an instructor and manager for a climbing gym, a retail sales floor employee, a ski shop manager, an inventory buyer for a specialty outdoors store, and now as a tech rep for Black Diamond. I have found that these opportunities bring a balance to my climbing life. They have allowed me a way to contribute back to the sport and the industry. I am a very strong advocate for not only climbing, but the outdoor industry as a whole. I believe firmly in the necessity of its function, and I am very proud to be a part of it.

Birthday? August 25, 1982

Year you first started climbing? Well, it's a long winded answer…The first time that I ever climbed was in 1995, from then until 2000, I went climbing only a handful of times. In the Spring of 2000, I began climbing slightly more consistently with increasing frequency until the Spring of 2005, when I moved to the Red River Gorge to work at Miguel's Pizza and climbing became my lifestyle.

Three climbing achievements you are most proud of? I am proud to be a pretty good rock climber, a pretty good ice climber, and a pretty good drytool/winter mixed climber.

Memory/story of the first time you ever went climbing? I was 12. It was at a summer camp somewhere in Colorado. My parents had sent me there from our home in Michigan with a couple of my friends. I remember having to wear a helmet, and thinking that was so uncool. They set up topropes and tied each of us in when it was our turn. I remember being on the wall. I didn't understand what I was experiencing, but now, looking back through my memories, I can describe it. I wasn't scared, I wanted each climb to go on forever, I did not want to come down. It just felt so natural.

Favorite climbing area and why? The Red River Gorge, Kentucky. I moved there in the Spring of 2005 to climb and work at Miguel's Pizza. Climbing was not necessarily a priority for me at that point. I was a decent climber, but I was inexperienced. I moved there primarily to slow my life down, and to reconsider things, to find something. I learned so much about myself and I changed my life in that place. Climbing was an integral part of that transformation, and from then, I have tried to continue along that same path.

Best climbing experience? There is no one "best" for me. I try to understand that all of the experiences I have ever had exist within me, at this moment in this day, thus I try to focus on the positive and try to make each day out the best.

Worst climbing experience? Ha ha. Though I try to make each day the best…sometimes I fail. In 2001, I took a small fall off of the bouldering wall at my college. My left foot caught the edge of a pad enough to roll it, but not catch any weight. I landed with all of my weight on the rolled left foot, and broke my ankle, as well as tore cartilage and ligaments. I have had 2 surgeries, but there is little cartilage left in my ankle. It affects me everyday, and it seems that not much can be done.

What's your dream trip? Where? With who? Simple and slow paced climbing trip anywhere with rock and beaches with expansive water. Only with the closest friends, who know some of the faults and subtleties of my personality, but still keep me around despite them.

Guilty pleasure? Red wine, dark chocolate, Avery beer

BD gear you use every time you go climbing? Spring, Summer, and Fall: Ozone harness, Livewire quickdraws, Survivor Chalkbag, Gorilla Chalk pot, BD Brush set. Winter: Xenos harness, Fusion and Cobra axes, Cyborg and Raptor crampons, Express Ice Screws, Firewire Quickdraws, Tracer helmet.

Something that annoys you while climbing? Rock and/or Icefall. Barking dogs, Crying babies, or the sound of my belayer's voice carrying on a conversation with some one on the ground.

What/who inspires you in climbing? I am most inspired by those that are of middle to old age that have had longevity within the sport. Those that have transcended the need to feel improvement or progression, or rather they have reverted back to a child-like appreciation for simply moving over rock or ice. It demonstrates true passion and devotion, and sacrifice as well. I hope to be among them in the years to come.

Favorite aprés-climb meal? Beer, then pasta with meat sauce, a salad, and red wine, then dark chocolate with almonds in it.

Favorite climbing flick? Hard Grit

What's in your iPod? Ambient, Down tempo, Electronica, Techno, Trance, Hip Hop, and Rap.

Strangest place you've ever woken up? The 'White House' in the Red River Gorge. It is part of the land that Miguel owns, just up the road from the pizza shop. It is really old, and there is no running water and marginal electricity. I lived there for the climbing season in 2005. Some say it is haunted, some say that they have seen ghosts in there. I love that house, but it is strange for sure.

Strangest person you've ever woken up with? Chamo in Mira Flores, Venezuela. He is an old, very short Venezuelan farmer that would wake up every single morning when the rooster started crowing, usually around 4. He'd grab his machete, and head off to the farm. He allowed us to sleep on his porch, so that we could climb in La Puerta, an amazing canyon of paper white limestone with tufas and stalactites. (See "Low Hanging Fruit" in Rock & Ice magazine #180)

Three things you'd never roadtrip without? Wallet, contact lenses, and clothes (enough so that I'm not naked)

What's your dream job? I always wonder what it would be like to be an artist, or a chef, or a surgeon.

How are you training when you are not climbing? I campus and hangboard. Indoor bouldering as well. Some yoga/stretching. Some weight lifting/oppositional muscle training…and of course rest.

If you could steal one thing and not get caught, what would it be? The Hope Diamond

If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive) who would they be? Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, The Buddah, and Osama bin Laden. Sorry, that's 4.

Which would you prefer: power of flight or invisibility? Flight

Do you have any tattoos or piercings? Yes. 3 tattoos.


2013 Dawn Glanc c DylanTaylor.jpg
Photo by Dylan Taylor

I was born and raised in Brunswick, Ohio. I started college at Kent State University in Ohio. My first few semesters, I was introduced to climbing and Outdoor Education. It was at this time of my life that I realized Ohio was not the place for me to be. This city girl wanted to explore the mountains and learn more about the outdoors. In 1996, I moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota to pursue a degree in Outdoor Education. The Black Hills served as perfect terrain for me to develop my climbing skills and to learn how to live and play in the outdoors.  It was in the Black Hills where my passion for climbing truly grew. In 1998 I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Outdoor Education.

Shortly after graduation, I began rock guiding for some small guide services in the Black Hills. As time passed, my ambitions grew, and I began to feel as though I was outgrowing the small oasis of the Black Hills. In 2004, I moved to Bellingham, Washington, and became a mountain guide with the American Alpine Institute. Since moving to Washington, I have worked full time as a mountain guide. I have guided in the northern Cascades, eastern Sierras, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, Joshua Tree National Park, Ouray Colorado, Alaska and Canada. I have guided three Denali expeditions. To further my career as a guide, I am currently pursuing my full IFMGA certification through the American Mountain Guide Association. This international certification will allow me to work as a guide throughout the world.

Name: Dawn Glanc
Birth Date:May 6, 1975
Place of Birth: Ohio
Current Home town: Ouray Colorado
Primary Sport: Climbing
Specialties within your sport: Ice and Mixed climbing
Other hobbies or sports:Yoga, Pilates and hiking with my dogs

My favorite Mountain Hardwear products? I am dressed entirely in Mountain Hardwear, right down to my underwear. The Solidus and the Zonal Jackets are my standard top layers. I also keep a Nilas Jacket in my pack for belays and cold nights around camp.

How were you introduced to your sport? I was introduced to both rock and ice climbing in 1996 when I moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mike Niebuhr was the person who introduced me to the world of sport climbing. Later that same year, he called to ask if I wanted to go ice climbing. Curiosity lead me to say yes, and I was hooked on the first day.

What inspires you? I do not read magazines or books about climbing. Instead, I meet other climbers and they inspire me. I listen to other people tell their stories of adventure and it makes me want to get after it.

Which athletes or other individuals have been your biggest source of inspiration? I am mostly inspired by my climbing partners. They push me and make me strive to do my best. Their belief in me gives me the confidence I need to go for it. No matter the outcome or how bad we may be suffering, we can still laugh and have fun. This relationship and the experiences we share are what makes me want to go out day after day.

What advice would you give to newcomers to (your sport) today? Climbing is a life threatening activity. Hire an AMGA certified guide to teach you the most current and efficient technical systems for climbing. These professional climbers have a lot of knowledge to share; knowledge that can help keep you safe. Don't fall into the trap of learning from someone who has been climbing forever. The climbing gear and systems change over time, and the veteran recreational climber may not be current in their information. A day out with a guide will be well worth your money.

What's your favorite expedition meal? I like to eat foods that I won't be able to get while on the trip. Fresh fruits and veggies are what I stock up on.

What the first thing you look forward to doing after a long expedition? I first look for a long hot shower. Then I head straight for food. French fries are what I am typically after.

How do you balance your training schedule with your "real" job? My real job is Mountain Guiding. This can really disrupt my training schedule. Traveling and days in the field keep me off my routine. I keep myself on a fairly regimented training schedule whenever I am home and around the gym. My approach is to keep this training schedule realistic so that I can stick to it week after week.

Do you have any pre-expedition rituals? I just try to do the same thing as I always do, listen to some "booty quake music", relax and have fun. If I can stay calm and focused then I can climb as if it is any old day. It also helps that the other competitors are out to have fun, so the overall mood of the day is light and positive. No one is out for blood, and every one jokes around. It's a great community of competitors.

In 10 years I hope to be… Happy, healthy and climbing harder than I am now.

Six-word bio: Climber, mountain guide, motivator and humorist.

When singing karaoke, what song do you sing to bring down the house? "Carwash", I rock that song!

What music gets you fired up? I call it Booty Quake. This is any music that makes your ass move.

If you were a super hero, who would you be? When I was a kid, I thought anyone could grow up to be a super hero. I thought it was an occupation you could choose to do. I am currently looking into this.

Ouray Mixed Climbing Competition, women division, Ouray Colorado - First Place 2011, 2009; Second Place 2012, 2007; Third pace 2010
Teva Winter Games, women's Division, February 2012, Vail Colorado - First Place
6 first Ascents in Iceland, on waterfall ice lines WI5-WI5+
3 first Ascents in Cody Wyoming, waterfall ice lines WI3-WI4+
Red point Gold Line M10, Posers Lounge, Ouray Colorado
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Expedition to the Fairweather Range, June 2008

Catch up with Dawn on:

2013 Bryan Gilmore

Bryan Gilmore has been climbing for over 20 years and still loves it. While not out scrambling in the hills with friends, he spends his days exposing his 4 year old daughter to the wonders of playing outside.

2012 Josh Wharton

I learned to climb as an impressionable teenager in a very traditional way. Unlike many of today's young climbers I never climbed in a gym, and spent most of my early years toproping and wobbling my way up easy trad climbs in New England. When I moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1997 I fell in love with climbing in earnest and have been hooked ever since.

Although I love all aspects of the sport, alpine climbing has been my primary passion. I'm most proud of the climbs that required a special effort from me and my partners; be it a willingness to take big risks, train hard, or make some major sacrifice in our lives. There are many climbs that have forged strong memories over the years, particularly those with friends that are now gone, but some of the climbs that stand out for me are:

The first ascent of The Flame in Pakistan with Brian McMahon; a very committing climb given our collective experience and skill level at the time. We completed the climb in alpine style, after 40 stormy days alone on the Trango Glacier during the post-9/11 summer of 2002.

The first ascent of the Azeem Ridge on Great Trango Tower with Kelly Cordes. 48 hours without water, and some difficult climbing at 20,000 feet, opened my mind to how far things could be pushed.

Winning the Ouray Ice Festival Mixed Climbing Competition in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Especially in 2011, as I had broken my back and arms just six months prior to the event. Participating in Ouray has pushed me to learn a new aspect of the sport, and taught me how to train hard.

In the future I hope to chase the climbing dreams that inspire me, be them a 10 foot boulder problem or a 10,000 foot alpine face, and to continue to live a rewarding and happy life.

Other Competitors to Watch Include:
Stanislav Vrba

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