Dan is 32 years old and has been into sports for as long as he can remember. His first passion was baseball, not uncommon for a kid growing up in New York. By the time he got to Colorado College, he had been playing on baseball, soccer and basketball teams for 12 months a year for over 10 years; his interest in team sports was fading. He was still obsessed with practicing and was still highly competitive, but he no longer enjoyed competing against other people. Dan found climbing around this time. He loved climbing straight away because of the interplay of strength, technique and strategy. It also provided him with endless hours of opportunity to practice. Since his graduation from CC in 2005, he has built his life around his passion for climbing. Dan has travelled all over the country and some internationally. He currently lives half of every year in an airstream trailer that he takes to wherever he is psyched to spend a climbing season. The other part of the year Dan spends in Carbondale, Colorado, working in the restaurant world and climbing in Rifle, his home before all other homes.
Discipline: Sport Climbing
Hometown: New Paltz, NY
Currently Living: Airstream Trailer Anywhere, USA / Carbondale, CO
Career Highlights: For me, anytime I put in a lot of work on something and finally succeed it is a highlight. It is exactly this process that inspires me to climb. Here are a few that have gone down over the years that I feel strongly about. Most took a lot of hardwork: First ascent, Solid Gold 5.14C Cathedral, UT; Fifth ascent of Vogue 5.14B/C, Industrial Wall CO; Seventh ascent of The Bad Girls Club 5.14C Rifle; (linkup) ascent of Carry the Fire 5.14C, Rifle CO; Tomfoolery 5.14B/C; Rifle CO. 1st; Route of All Evil 5.14B, Virgin River Gorge, AZ; Lungfish 5.14, Rifle, CO.
When did you first start climbing?
I first climbed when I was eight years old; my mom was a trad climber in the Gunks. My first pair of climbing shoes were hand-me-downs from Lynn Hill. They were pink Scarpas. I enjoyed climbing then but didn’t really start my own climbing life until I moved to Colorado to attend Colorado College.
What do you most enjoy about your sport?
One of my favorite things about climbing is problem solving. I love approaching a new route/potential project and going through the process of turning something that seems impossible into something I believe I can achieve. Do you know that moment when your project goes from feeling impossible to doable? I like that part a lot!
How do you define success?
I like to try to define success by fulfillment in both climbing and in life. Meaningful relationships with other people, physical exercise and mental stimulation all bring me a sense of fulfillment. If I have those things in my life I feel successful. In this regard climbing makes me feel successful. It also helps when I actually succeed. I feel successful then too.
What are you most proud of, either in life, your sport or both?
I am proud of myself for pursuing my passion for climbing and living a nontraditional life. I am proud of the success that I have had in climbing and the improvements I have made since I started 13 years ago. It has taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am now and I am not even there yet.
Who are your heroes?
My heroes are anyone who has the strength and courage to make their life about what they love. I have always liked the people and characters that fly in the face of the norm and go there own way, like Pioneer types.
What inspires you?
Long, steep, impossible-looking sport climbs; other people trying hard.
What are your hobbies outside of your sport?
I am a pretty active person; I enjoy running and yoga while not climbing. I also enjoy following organized sports (yes, I am a big Yankees fan!). I really like cooking and would consider myself a pretty big (really big) beer geek.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Hops, coffee, chocolate, to name a few. Do you remember that TV show, Friday Night Lights? I really liked that too.
What are your hidden talents?
Backing up a trailer and a keen fashion sense. Also, I have a really good memory for things like route beta and mid ‘90s rap lyrics.
Tell us about your most favorite place in the world:
I haven’t seen enough to have a favorite place (check back in 20-30 years). So far Acadia National Park in Maine is one of my all time favorite places. For me, it is a place of natural beauty, family and LOBSTER! I have spent a part of every summer of my whole life there. Every time I drive down my grandparents’ driveway, I feel very much at peace.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional baseball player, an inventor, not a lawyer
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be, and why?
I am a constant worrier. Sometimes it wakes me up in the middle of the night; sometimes it keeps me from really letting go and enjoying myself.
Tell us about a time in your life when you have been scared:
My dad passed away from cancer in 2006. I remember the first time I really realized that he was not going to recover, that he would no longer be able to take care of me and that I had to take care of him. That scared me. It still does.
Describe your perfect day:
I wake up in my trailer with the sunshine peaking in through the blinds. Katy and I spend a relaxing morning drinking coffee and preparing for a day of climbing. We walk from our trailer to a perfect limestone sport climbing area. We meet up with a few good friends. We have the crag to ourselves all day and the conditions are perfect. I work on a project and make progress. We make it back to the trailer exhausted, with just enough time to have a cold IPA with our friends in the last light of the day. Katy and I cook a delicious dinner and watch a movie and…. That’s it.
How would your friends describe you?
One close friend recently described me as the most disagreeable person he knew. I like that…. I would also like to think that my friends might describe me as: loyal, passionate, giving, funny and perhaps a little too obsessed with climbing.