I spent a week or so getting my climb on in Colorado over Labor Day week, I took advantage of getting some climbing done near Fort Collins, and what else? Duh, interview the sweetest and most humble La Sportiva pro-climber Paul Dusatko!
Why did Climbingjourney interview Paul? Well there are two Paul D’s, one from the Joisey Shore and the other Paul D (way cooler and better) from California who was brought down to the earth by the awesomeness climbing Gods (ahaha). So frankly Paul Dusatko, the climber, is quite an amazing person who is gem multi-generational climber. Paul’s story is not only interesting, but also amazing; I wish I had had the opportunity to have the exposure of being a climber amidst several generations of climbing.
So I met Paul at Miramont Lifestyle Fitness for the coolest interview that went something like this…
Where did the climbing Gods drop off Paul? I was born in Telluride, CO and we moved to Dana Point, a small Southern California beach town when I was 12. I fell in love with the ocean as much as the mountains I missed and surfing became my new addiction… until I found climbing.
So, how did you start off climbing? Since there were no real climbing gyms, my first real exposure to climbing was trad climbing at about 15 years of age. My friends and I started going out to Ortega Falls and Joshua Tree to climb.
I have had some seriously sweet and experienced mentors, you? Yes, I was so lucky to be mentored by the older generation of climbers like Jim Bridwell, John Long, Dale Bard, Todd Gordon, and Randy Leavitt. I look back now, and I feel lucky to have been taught by some of the most legendary North American climbers.
How did you get into much harder, advanced climbing? Well after learning climbing outdoors, I was addicted. And then they opened up the climbing gym Rockcreation in Costa Mesa. So I got a job there and realized that training at the gym brought a different aspect. Less outdoor adventure obviously, but more of a social aspect, which I really liked too. We also trained on old “glue-ups” under the freeway overpasses, these two things combined introduced me to bouldering and training. I started to focus on hard moves not far off the ground, which was cool.
So proper gym training and traversing got you more into bouldering? Yes, so I started out with trad and big walls, then moved on to sport climbing for about 15 years. I witnessed two generations of climbing styles literally battle it our for ethics and acceptance in the U.S. Then when the wave of bouldering began it’s surge, I realized I really loved bouldering too. I went from the big walls of Yosemite to less equipment, less epic climbing. Bouldering to me meant simplicity, more socialization and power moves. Climbing brings us so many joys and as I got older and a new type of climbing was introduced, I embraced it. It seems as though I really have taken on bouldering and it’s going strong now for over 8 years.
So from surfing in SoCal, to trad climbing with legends, paving away the sport climbing invasion and then sending boulder problems. SoCal to Colorado, how did that happen? I gravitated to Fort Collins, CO because of the amount of bouldering in the area. Seriously, the accessibility and volume of problems is huge. Imagine bouldering in high altitude in the summer and lower elevations in the winter… which means perfect temps 365 days a year!
Oh yeah, you are officially a La Sportiva climber, way to go! Tell us a little about that achievement. My first major sponsor was Five Ten which led to multiple other sponsorships over the years including Rope Gun, Power Bar, Maxim Ropes, Evolv, Organic, and finally La Sportiva which for me is the top of the food chain… It was always my dream to be picked up by La Sportiva because of their product quality and inspiring athletes.
Other than bouldering in the beautiful Front Range as a pro, what else are you doing these days? Well I have a few awesome things going on.
- First, I (and partners) have worked on two patents. One is the Wave Wall (Wave Warp®Climbing Systems) just received a patent in the US. Growing up surfing, the waves inspired me on this design. The wave wall we built at Miramont Lifestyle Fitness is about 80 feet long, starts as a slab and slowly progresses to a 65 degree overhanging prow. The design is based on a single wall offering almost every type of angle for all types of climbers.
- Second, we are working on our next patent, which is a mega t-nut. Most t-nuts over time and overuse of weight on climbing holds cause damage to the walls. Our mega t-nut (1) can be replace a current t-nut in a damaged area and fix it permanently, and (2) even better, set up your new walls with our mega t-nut and never damage the plywood to begin with.
- Third, the climbing world has given me so much I’m always eager to give back. I manage the Miramont gym in Fort Collins and in just a few years not only have we quadrupled our total memberships, I have worked very hard to create a fun, welcoming climbing environment for all types of climbers. We also work super hard setting plenty of well thought out routes for beginner to expert. We want to provide everyone with the tools to achieve their own personal climbing goals. Most of all, if I do not see happy climbers, I want to fix it right away…
I promise, just a few more questions! You have seen the world of climbing evolve into so many places. What are your thoughts? Well I was taught by legends with deeply rooted climbing ethics. I was also lucky to overlap most of the legendary climbing generations; I started out when trad was the only way, then I saw the climbing world be taken over by sport climbing, and then the bouldering invasion. Now I see the explosion of urbanization and commercialization of the sport. Yes, the sport needs to be pushed forward and succeed commercially, but I would like to see the deep ethics and respect of the sport to remain in it as well. We have lost a lot of it and its up to us to figure out how to balance it all out. I want to see all of us preserve the sport as well as all the crags we have access to. But most importantly, as we push the sport forward, the world should see us as athletes who achieve major heights with deep-rooted ethics as the core of who we are as a climbing community.
Sport Climbing and the Olympics, thoughts? Well in the 1980s the World Cup of Sport Climbing was covered in the CBS Wide World of Sports and if failed. Why? It was not fun to watch unless you were a climber. I am psyched to see climbing back in the arena, because it belongs there with other sports. I hope that for the Olympics the route setting and coverage is designed to appeal to both climbers and non-climbers. Rock climbing to me is not “Urban Climbing” (whatever the hell that means) but rather a sport with legends, ethics, and lifestyle for everyone, young to old, fun to advanced, no matter what, everyone can enjoy climbing. I want to see the sport grow, but in a healthy way. I agree Paul, I became an elite gymnast, but it all started watching the sport on TV, I saw the exciting coverage and thought wow; that could be me, I need to learn that. I agree, I want spectators to watch and be inspired to learn how to climb too.
Two more questions promise….Where do you want to be in 5 years? A business owner in both climbing and non-climbing industries.
Lastly, what has sustained you over the years as a climber? The constant challenge of climbing, having to stay fit both mentally and physically, but most of all, having all the opportunities to see so many beautiful places, basically all the places climbing takes me.
I want to thank Paul for his time and sharing his wealth….of his valuable climbing history and career. We want to build a happy and healthy climbing community!
So here are some interesting links….
- For Information about the Wave Wall contact Paul directly at 310.709.5506 – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Information to the coolest gym in Fort Collins, Miramont Lifestyle Fitness. When you are visiting and have a rainy day or down day, come here for some training. www.miramontlifestyle.com
- La Sportiva! I own Ketanas and approach shoes by La Sportiva and will go no other way but La Sportiva. Be sure to learn more about this wonderful company! www.sportiva.com
- Organic Climbing sponsors Paul and they make the best crash pads ever. They also make chalk bags, crag packs, jeans and more. Check out the story on Organic Climbing on my blog under ‘Real Life, Real People’. https://www.facebook.com/pages/ORGANIC-Climbing/283565844061?fref=ts
- Check out these two awesome gigs Paul does as well. www.firetherig.com & www.integrity7.com