Exclusive Interview: Timothy O'Neil Pro Climber & Comedian

Recently we contacted the incredibly talented climber and comedian Timothy O’Neil who kindly agreed to an interview with the CheapTents.com outdoor sports blog.

We’ve been really quite fortunate to get such prolific outdoor sports people onto the blog in recent months and it is a great pleasure to see another fine star, Timothy O’Neil, providing a great insight into the adventures and misadventures of his antics!  🙂

You might also be interested in the interviews we have been lucky-enough to receive with other professional climbers and mountaineers…

About Timothy O’Neil

Timmy O’Neill has found fame as one of America’s most outrageous climbers. Timothy holds monumental speed climbing records from Yosemite to Patagonia, and has been at the cutting-edge of climbing for over 15-years. He is a world-class slackliner, renowned building solo climber, class 5+ kayaker of 30 years and a dangerously fast mountain biker!  Timothy has therefore become synonymous with pushing human feats to the outer limits.

From MSR’s website:

Timmy is best known for his irreverent humor and quick wit, which have been on display at his sold-out slideshows throughout the world and in the recent films Return2Sender and Front Range Freaks. The film Return2Sender recently won its 10th Best Climbing Film Award, including the Banff, Kendal, Taos, Telluride, Vancouver and Boulder Adventure film festivals.

Timothy (or Timmy) also partners with leading amputee and spinal injury athletes in ascension and technology development, stating:

Seeing my friends overcome their disabilities and achieve the seemingly impossible feeds my soul, forces me to reach even further!

Timothy made a 7-day ascent up a dangerous route on the 3,000-ft El Capitan with his brother Sean who is paralysed from the waist down.

Timothy O’Neil Interview

CheapTents.com: What inspired you to get into Climbing?
Timothy: I grew up whitewater kayaking and was captivated by the rock walls carved by the rivers we paddled. Also as a kid, I climbed tombstones and the ornate relief on the mortuary façade in the Fernwood Cemetery a short walk from my home.

CheapTents.com: What has been your biggest climbing or other sporting achievement?
Timothy: Surviving my 20’s and also climbing 3 Grade VI routes in Yosemite Valley in a 24-hour period with Dean Potter, completing over 80-pitches on three separate granite monoliths.

CheapTents.com: What is you biggest weakness? Sport or otherwise…
Timothy: Big nose, weak chin, graying hair and the deluded sense that I am the most beautiful man to have ever walked the earth’s surface.

CheapTents.com: When did you feel like you ‘made it’ in your field of outdoor sports? And do you feel like you’ve satisfied your goals?
Timothy: I ‘made it’ when I first tried climbing in Bozeman, Montana on July 20th, 1989 while I was an employee in Yellowstone National Park as a clerk in the Old Faithful Inn gift shop. That began a lifelong obsession with rock and ice. I will have achieved all of my goals only when I am dead – that’s the final pitch I have to lead and one that I hope comes along in a few more decades.

CheapTents.com: What do you find most challenging about training? Any tips to overcome these challenges?
Timothy: Hope is what you want, fate is what you get and try is what you do. The most important aspect of training or anything that requires diligence, focus and to a certain degree pain, is to realize that the onus of completing it lies solely on you.

CheapTents.com: Blood thirsty question now, what has been your worst injury (if any) from outdoors sports and how did it happen?
Timothy: In 2001, I fell 30+ meters while leading a pitch on Eternal Flame @ 19,500ft on the side of Nameless Tower located in the heart of the Karakoram Mountain range. I tore a few fingernails off trying to catch a ledge and then upon impact I tore my left shoulder. I recently had it repaired with a bicep tenodisis.

CheapTents.com: What will be your most challenging climbs for next year?
Timothy: I turn 40 on June 28th so all of my climbs are getting more challenging. I am going to attempt a 1st ascent in some globally far-flung locale with my brother Sean, who is a T-12 paraplegic.

CheapTents.com: You’ve obviously been heavily involved with Climb Newcastle, how’s the launch been?
Timothy: Aces.

CheapTents.com: Where would you like to be in 5 years time? Main Ambitions?
Timothy: I would like to be traveling the world, speaking to audiences about the work I do with Paradox Sports (www.paradoxsports.org), skiing, climbing, BASE jumping, whitewater kayaking and best of all playing drums professionally in a rock and roll band – hmmm, all that sounds familiar. 5 years from now I would like to healthy in every sense.

CheapTents.com: For other budding outdoor sports enthusiasts, what tips can you provide to help others compete at a higher level?
Timothy: Get plenty of sleep, eat well and remember the golden rule “do onto others as you would have them do into you.” You have to get out and do whatever it is you want to accomplish – remember that hope is what you want, fate is what you get and try is what you do. The more time you can focus on your goal(s), the greater the likelihood of you actually achieving them.

CheapTents.com: What are your favourite bits of gear, and why?
Timothy: I really like the Rhythm Line from Patagonia – comfort and style points. The Ocean Minded shoes from Crocs are the bomb and everyone always says “cool shoes dude”, the Talon Series from Osprey – super lightweight, spacious and great colors. I have always likes carabiners, especially with a simple, strong design like the Petzl Spirit. The MSR Hubba Series of tents are freaking amazing – such innovative design and a snap to set up – I have all three sizes, the single person Hubba I used recently on an 18-day kayaking trip down the Grand Canyon and it was perfect.

CheapTents.com: Any people or sponsors that you’d like thank?
Timothy: Mom and Dad for having sex and making me, then raising me, then letting me go off to the big wonderful world to become a professional climber, stand-up comedian and rock and roll drummer. Also Crocs, Patagonia, Osprey, Petzl and MSR.

CheapTents.com: Thanks you so much Timothy, for taking the time to answer these questions and sharing such an inspiring insight into your life and adventures.  Pop-by any time!



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