I first experienced technical rock climbing at age 13 in 1979 at a summer camp in northern Minnesota. Two years later I returned to the same camp and ended up learning how to belay to help out the understaffed Rock Climbing crew on the two days my dorm had Climbing on our schedule. I did this mostly because it meant I would get out of doing Campus Improvement...essentially slave labor such as cutting weeds and hauling dead trees and such. I'm no dummy.
I didn't climb again until 1985, when I applied to work at that same summer camp. I had requested to work as a college staff member on the Wilderness Canoeing Crew, because I was an Eagle Scout and loved to camp and canoe. I was hired to join the Rock Climbing Crew based on my 12 hours of belay experience. Well a crash course in belaying, anchor setup and movement over stone and we were "teaching" kids how to climb. Poor campers. Well no one died and I worked on the crew every day for 8 weeks, with a 4 week break midsummer to work on the Canoe Crew.
I returned to my sophomore year at college addicted to climbing. I was living in Pasadena, California but only had my 10-speed bike for transportation. Exploratory forays into the surrounding areas revealed no real climbing. I even cycled to Stoney Point one hot September day (75 miles roundtrip) in desperation. Eventually I met a couple of local climbers, two years my younger...but with cars. I did my first lead at Stoney Point and am lucky not to have died...The Main Chimney is only 5.6, but my only piece of gear in the first 60 feet fell out while I was climbing. The rock didn't take pro until I was 80 feet up. I topped out and began a career of leading. Several trips to Joshua Tree insured my addiction.
The next summer found me back in Texas. I explored and climbed a bit at Enchanted Rock. In the fall I returned to L.A. with a car and began a ritualistic program of bouldering at Stoney Point every Tuesday and Thursday evenings that would last many years. During that time I met and climbed with such climbing legends as John Long, Herb Laeger, Bob Kamps and was befriended by Stoney Point locals Kris Solem, Guy Kisee, Jan McCollum, Chris Hsu, Jan and Owen Fordham, Mike Powell and Mark Frumkin. I began climbing with Karen Brotter and quickly moved up the grades.
Over the years I've had many partners come and go. I've established over 100 First Ascents, mostly in California, mostly ground up. I've climbed 5.12 slab yet flailed on 5.10 cracks. I've been consumed by various aspects of the game...from bouldering to bigwalls, plastic to backcountry routes. I love the diversity climbing contains. I love the places I've visited while climbing, but most of all I love the people I meet. I think it's the partners I've had that give me the fondest memories.
And when I'm not out climbing, you can often find me lurking about (or posting like there's no tomorrow) on rec.climbing. Silly waste of time it is, but I do love it so. Again, it's often the many characters there that keep me coming back for more.
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Oh and in case you're wondering, my nickname doesn't stem from me placing millions of bolts indiscriminately. It was bestowed upon me by a partner when I was bolting on lead, off of hooks looking at a big, big fall. He said, "You're mad, Rex...Quite Mad. You're the Mad Bolter!"
I replied, "No, I'm not THE MadBolter, that's Warren Harding (one of my early climbing heros)! I'm just A MadBolter."
And the name stuck. Cheers Warren!
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