RJ Member Interview: Greg Twombly

We recently caught up with longtime RJ member Greg Twombly. Greg never ceases to impress us with his motivation, attitude, and strength. Here are his stats and some of his thoughts on climbing and training.

IMAG0898Age: 61
Years climbing: 46 (Started in 1968-69 in New Jersey)
Joined R&J: 6-14-97
Ape Index: +1.5 and increasing as I get shorter
Hardest Red Point: 12 something
Hardest Onsight: 11 something

R&J: Will you share a little about how you discovered climbing?
Whatever the reason we all start climbing, we all soon leave the initial reasons behind in favor of the challenge and pure kinetic fun of climbing. My dad, Vern Twombly, pioneered many routes in the Colorado Springs area (Boucher-Twombly and North Chimney on North Gateway; N Ridge Kindergarden in the Garden of the Gods) but wouldn’t teach me to climb. I learned by surviving.

R&J: What do you like or hate about climbing (in general)?
Climbing is always varied, changing, and fun at whatever level you climb. I don’t like leading hard trad, and I find ethical bickering annoying.

R&J: Do you primarily boulder, or climb on ropes? Which do you like more?
I like bouldering and lead climbing equally. Bouldering is social and stylized, leading is more spontaneous.

IMAG0901R&J: What is a typical training session like for you?
I’m still rehabing my last injury so I haven’t figured out what kind of training I can do. I’m currently doing weights, arm cycle, and hangboard now hoping to get back to pullups, lockoffs and campus board.

R&J: Do you have any climbing goals? What are they?
I’m working on 62 leads in a day outside as a birthday challenge. I did 61 in a day in the gym this year, but outside I’ve only managed 35 in a day (clean leads without hangs). I would really like to redpoint 12d or 13a but my last injury may prevent that.

R&J: You had a recent injury. What was the rehab like and what did you do to prevent further injuries?
I have about one injury a year, mostly the result of bad training or overtraining. The latest was a C6-7 disc rupture in April 5, 2014 that caused spinal inflammation, right hand and arm weakness. Prednisone controlled the initial inflammation cycle, then rehab starting with elastic bands, working to light weights and pull-ups. I have trouble locking off right handed but it seems to be improving. I don’t think I can completely avoid injury, but LISTENING to advice from a good trainer goes a long way.

R&J: What’s the best way to get better and avoid injury?
Good coaching. There is no substitute for the external eye. I’ve had great sessions with Corey, Jaime, and Trish and always learned a lot.

R&J: Do you have any climbing heroes? If so, who are they? The lunch session climbers at R&J South Gym, Joe, Frank, Steve, Marcel, Edrea, Al, Jim, Ken, Natalie, Aimee and anyone else that has joined in over the years. We’ve been climbing over 20 years together inside and out, through two gyms, and many injuries.

R&J: What’s changed about climbing?
Everything! I started with twisted three-strand nylon (Goldline), steel oval ‘biners and Euro soft iron pitons (Cassin), shifted to Chouinard chrome moly knifeblades, kernmantle ropes and aluminum biners; jumped to nuts (Pecks, Hexcentrics, Clogs, wedges) then the big transition to bolted sport climbs. Shoes went from tight hiking shoes to Robbins boots to EB’s to modern. The style changed from strictly ground up, no falls, focused on crack climbing techniques to bouldery, multiple falls to work out the sequence face climbing sport routes. Without guidebooks, climbing required a social investment at each new crag to meet the locals to find out the local style, ethical quirks and best climbs. Practices we considered safe at the time are entirely rejected now. Limestone, sandstone, and volcanic rock were considered to be too soft and chossy to be worth climbing on, then dominated as bolted face climbing became popular, but now the pendulum is moving back to granite.

Greg, thanks for sharing your thoughts and reminding us to have fun climbing.

Leave a Reply