Trad Climber Paul Roberts

Paul Roberts climbing a crag
Paul Roberts climbs Pitch 2 of the El (5.8.3)

Here at CheapTents Blog we are pleased to present a post written by a climber from the United States.

Paul Roberts is from New York state and has spent the past 3 years climbing in many parts of the USA, from New Hampshire to California. In June this year he’ll be launching a cross country/get to college/climbing trip that will take him climbing all over the country, ending in Prescott Arizona where he’ll be studying adventure education and environmental policy at college.

After reading our post about promoting amateur athletes looking for sponsorship, Paul contacted us asking if we could plug him on the blog. Of course we could, if he could give us the full low-down on his climbing career. We wanted to know about how Paul got into climbing, his favourite climbing spots, what climbing gear he uses, which professional climbers he rates and more…

Paul Roberts talks Climbing!

Getting into Climbing and Bouldering

My first experience of traditional climbing was in Keene Valley NY, on a route called Tilman’s Arete, back in the summer of 2009. My parents had hired a guide for me to climb with and that day forever changed my life. Standing on top of the second pitch two hundred feet off the ground, anchored to a sketchy tree. At this time I thought it was crazy, now I just call it comfortable!

When my brother went to school at Prescott College out in Arizona, he took me to a place called the Granite Dehls. This was the first time I had ever seen massive rock formations in my life and I was so drawn to them and inspired by them that I knew I had to begin climbing then and there. So I guess my first bouldering experience wasn’t in the traditional sense because we had no crash pads or shoes, we just climbed in our hiking boots!

For me bouldering is just a form of training, to get stronger for the walls. Although occasionally I will find a boulder that has a really awesome line, I really only get inspired by route climbing, especially trad climbing. When I find a perfect splitter crack I have to climb it. Big Walls are the most inspiring just pitch after pitch of amazing climbing. Route climbing takes you to places that no one has ever been before, it allows you to see things only few people have seen before.

Climbing Locations and Favourite Pitches

The past few years I have spent the majority of my climbing in Little Falls NY, Keene Valley NY, the Adirondacks NY, and places in Arizona. I have climbed in New Hampshire, California, Nevada, and in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. I plan on spending the rest of my life travelling to climbing areas around the country and world. First I just need to get to college in Arizona!

One of my biggest climbs was the tallest vertical cliff in NY – Wallface Mountain via the diagonal route 5.8 III. I have onsighted and redpointed 5.11a, 5.10c sport routes and redpointed 5.10d trad.

My favourite climbing routes / pitches are:

  1. Birthday Party 5.7 R Pinnacle Peak Arizona
  2. Fred. P. Jones. 5.11b Little Falls New York
  3. Granite Mountain Arizona
  4. Father and Son 5.7 Red River Gorge Kentucky
  5. The Dreamer 5.10c Little Falls New York
Climber Paul Roberts underneath an overhanging rock
Paul Roberts on roof climb Rising (5.11a)

Paul’s Climbing Epiphany

Early on in my climbing career I was in the McDowell Mountains in Arizona. A friend and I had been climbing fairly easy routes (5.7-5.8) all day when he suggested I try this “really awesome 10c” around the corner. Granted I had never climbed in that grade level before or even thought about it. I replied with “ I don’t know if I can do that dude.” He encouraged me to do it and told me he thought I could.

So I tried the route and fell 7’ to the ground, this was the first time I couldn’t complete a route on-sight style. Determined and already inspired by the route I got back on it, but I continuously whipped off of it. I was tired from the full day of climbing and this route (Dark Passage 5.10c) was kicking my ass. I got back on it and made it to the middle crux.

At this point my mind gave up and flooded itself with negative thoughts. My mind told me that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t good enough. It had completely given up, then something strange happened my body kept looking for better holds, kept searching for the perfect foot placements and didn’t give up even after my mind had shut down and said goodbye. It was like my body developed a mind of its own. It was this moment that I made progress I slapped the top of the route, getting it without falling after 30 minutes of work put into it. It was this day that inspired me to push my limits both mentally and physically as much as I can with climbing.

Falling and Training

In May 2011 I fell off of a building and hitting the ground from 20 feet up hurt, and broke my hand in three places and foot in two. The worst part was it was the beginning of the season and I couldn’t start my climbing season until July! I recovered quickly (3 months) by getting right back out and climbing with a new determination to get stronger and better than ever.

I climb as much as I can, but being stuck in highschool for the past couple years has limited that, I train in the gym 3 times a week and climb on weekends. During the winters I train in the gym 4-5 times a week.

Competitions and Ambitions

I am a member of the American Alpine Club, and a member of the Access Fund. I have competed in the UBC Protour at the finals in Burlington Vermont at the Nor’easter climbing convention. I shamefully wasn’t ready for the comp and placed 28th. I recently competed in the Chillin @ The Wall comp in Oswego at The Wall climbing gym. I placed 4th. I felt much better about this comp 🙂

In the near and long term I intend to keep entering climbing competitions. Some that I have in my sights on are:

  1. Top out or Tap out comp at The Edge climbing gym-January 28th 2012
  2. Any competitions that I will be close to while at college
  3. 24 hours of Horseshoe hell competition in Arkansas
  4. Red Rocks Rendezvous every year that I am close to it
  5. CCS competition at the Red Barn Rochester NY April 7th 2012

I thrive to push my climbing to the next level each day. I train hard to climb harder. I want to push both my mental and physical limits to their max. What will I see then? When both the inner and outer are pushed to the extreme. I want to see climbing reach the next level in the evolution. In the next three years I hope to break into the 5.13 grade, I’ll be pushing myself hard and training the hardest I ever have to make this happen all while expanding my knowledge in climbing.

I plan on making the first lead ascent of two routes at my local crag in Little Falls NY this spring, 1. The Dreamer 5.10c R. 2. Fred. P. Jones. 5.11b R – these routes have never seen a lead ascent by anyone, I don’t know why but I can guess that it has something to do with the little gear placements and dangerous fall potential.

I hope to own my own guiding company one day that will offer a wide assortment of outdoor sports and cover a range of different places to travel to for each adventure.

Paul Roberts
Climber Paul Roberts, from New York state, USA

Favourite Climbing Equipment

I use mainly Black Diamond carabiners, cams, nuts helmet and belay devices. Petzl Adjama and Corax Harness’s. Mammuth slings. Blue Water ropes. La Sportiva Shoes.

My La Sportiva TC Pros and Solutions are probably the best pair of shoes I have ever used. I use the Solutions for steep over hanging routes and bouldering, the heel hooking and toe hooking power you get out of these shoes is incredible. When I first got the TC Pros I was a little sceptical but then I sent my hardest Trad route in them, Rupture 5.10d PG-13. The edging possibilities of theses shoes are endless, they stick to anything! I’ve sent my hardest routes yet to date thanks to the La Sportiva Solutions and TC Pros.

My Black Diamond quickdraws and camalots have saved my life many times, I only feel safe and secure with black diamonds protection. Black Diamond has repeated showed how great the products are with me as well as with the rest of the world.

My Blue Water Pulse 9.9mm Rope runs smoothly through my belay devices and catches my falls softly. The lightness of the rope was a remarkable surprise to! It doesn’t stretch as much as my old Mammuth rope which I enjoy a lot. The quality of the rope seems to uphold the great standards that Blue Water has set for the past 10 years.

The Best Climbers

My favourite well-known climbers and boulders are Tommy Caldwell and Sonnie Trotter.

  1. Tommy Caldwell – who else free’s big walls like this guy! Propts to him he’s inspiring to me because I one day would like to be climbing walls like Tommy.
  2. Sonnie Trotter, I met him once in New Hampshire and he gave me some good tips on leading hard routes, he also put up the Cobra Crack, I would love to be able to climb this one day.

These guys simply do the business, climb hard and get it done.

Other Interests and Final Points

Apart from climbing, I love Percussion instruments and music! Learning about different cultures and travelling is another passion of mine. Kayaking, hiking, Mountaineering, and Rafting are a few other sports I do.

I’ll be attending Prescott College this fall for Adventure Education with an emphasis in Outdoor Administration and a double major in Bio Conservation.

As a climber I believe we have to protect the places we love. Protecting the natural environment we live in is the most important thing we as humans can do.

Thank you to Paul Roberts for sharing with us his love of climbing! Good luck Paul, with your climbing trip and college course!

If you would like some more inspiration to go out climbing why not read our interviews with professional climbers such Kevin Thaw or Daniel Woods. If you want to know about organisations involved in climbing, you can find out more in our interviews with the Mountaineering and Climbing Federation or the UK Mountain Leader Training Association.

Have You Got Something To Say?

Are you an up-and-coming athlete who would like to be promoted on the CheapTents blog? Have you had an adventure that you’d like to share? Do you have a strong opinion about an outdoor related topic that you’d like us to publish? Send us an e-mail!


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