Stone Locals | Rediscovering the Soul of Rock Climbing
It's a selfish, sport you know. But people that climb a long time realize that it's not just about you, just about the whole thing, when i think about the soul, of, climbing. It's for everybody. Hi welcome everybody for the world, premiere, of stone locals, we're so excited to be sharing this with you, um it is a very important story that talks about. People, coming together, united by climbing but from vastly, different backgrounds. We have the two filmmakers. Mikey schaefer. And shane limpy here, and also, two of the characters, from the film, cathy carlo, and brandon belcher. So please join us. Enjoying, and watching this film and sticking around, for an informative. Panel discussion. Right. After. Oh man that's a hard question. I think if you've been rock climbing. So long that's like somebody, asking, you. To. Lose your identity. You couldn't get me to stop climbing. The thing that kept pulling me back in every single time. Was. Just the freedom, at all. I have found, the climbing, community, to be, the most inviting. And, vibrant. People. Just like, such a big part of my life. Like, to stop. That's like, redoing, everything. I'd probably become like a completely, different. Person. My life without climbing. Would be pretty depressing. I say that. Honestly, too. But i know that climbing is going to be something solid in my life that's always going to be there when i need, it. Is. I can't imagine. I don't want to even, imagine. Without climbing. What is life without. Climbing. Uh. Ugh. It's a selfish, sport you know. It's like kind of all about you but in the same token. People that climb a long time realize that it's not just about you it's just about. Like the whole thing. Hopefully it doesn't change. It's. Changing. Um. Ready to go to see avalonia, now. Have we not been seeing it no no no no no no no no no no, that is beginning. You know. This is just, it's just beginning you haven't seen anything. You haven't seen anything. That is avalonia. A land art project, where i try, to make paths, and terraces. That. After. One time it's built. There's no erosion, anymore, and you can let in climbers. Here they can learn about nature. What it is and what it means what it gives to you.
For Us it's a magical, place. You will. Feel. So that is my. Stone, sculpture, place. I'm working on this memory, stone. You know this problem, we have. If somebody, die. What can we do. We love our sport we want to be in the mountains. Yeah, and the avalanche, came or whatever. It can happen. And so. I think it's important that we, care about, our. Rock. Lovers. And so i have, placed, everywhere, memory stones, and. I i like this, vision, yeah having. It is not an answer. But it is, simple. That we are also thinking of our, legions. And that is, ah, yeah go for it, oh that's a beautiful, boulder. You you try it again, yes. Show me where the correction, is yeah you have to pay attention, yes. I go normally, here, yeah, then here that is just. Just for this beginning, just to make it, easier, and now here i have to leave, it is my, my hair and my blue hair i put it down, and uh. Yeah. Come on try hard. Breathe. Come on. So we really have haha, here. Have i try again. No. I think um, climbing, these days has very much people starting with competition, climbing. But here it's, totally different. Here is it's about nature, it is about. Art. It's difficult, to figure out what he wants. To tell you, because sometimes, he's. Speaking, in myths. He's a teacher in climbing. A special teacher. It's not about hangboard, and getting your muscles. Big. Or something like that it's it's about. Yes having fun. And. Be a human being. Right here. He's the man, he's the, shoe. I go, i go in, i make no fire. Everything, is connected to my, client in my life. Without climbing. We don't. Exist. Uh. My. All right are you guys joe you want to do this lab. Sure. How are you gonna, just get served by your mom. And not even respond. Come here i'm still bigger than. You. My name is zoe, and i'm 19 years old. When i, was born. My dad. Would take me to little conway, canyon, in my car seat. I just watch him climb. And then. I just remember going like crag, ever since i was little. Most of my childhood, my dad would try to like. Make what, he loved part of me, and i'd fight him a little bit on it. I'm gonna try it once, just once. Stand right here. Save your energy for climbing. We moved here to utah, in the early 80s. I. Am a father of two, husband. Of my wife melissa. And. I. Um. Provide for my family by cleaning windows. When you have children, you think about life differently. I've tried to instill, in my children. Without being preachy, but an ethic. And. A. Ownership. Of the outdoors. And they'll even call me. Out. Almost, you didn't really commit. All the way. I'm kidding.
I'm Kidding. My name is noah keisley. I'm 14, and we're. In my bedroom right now. I usually just climb, family. Some people like just like it's kind of flame. But. It was like awesome i gotta go climbing with them i got to spend the whole day with them. They checked me out of school for it so. You must get annoyed from some time, well yeah, definitely, for sure. My. Window, cleaning hands are so soft. But. I mean i always just think. They're, out here for us. They did all this. They sacrificed, a lot of their climbing for us. We still, receive a lot of criticism, from people. About our kids being climbers. Climbing has, i mean it's helped me to have great kids. It's helped us to, be. A good family. To get along, and. Even if there's problems, like we have this thing we come back. To. When i. Was younger. There, came a point where i, made it my own and i loved it for what it was and, i kind of. Realized, it was going to be something i cherished my entire life. It's, painfully, obvious. To see how. Much climbing, has grown. But. As a community. I think there's, there's ways to try to stay, ahead of that or at least, keep pace with that growth. I'm really excited to see like what this future generation, of climbers are going to do you know. I mean i say that and i am the future. Generation. All right guys. This is miguel's, pizza. Um. This is the family business. Uh. Over the years this this, place has kind of, become famous, i guess. I don't know if it's the bright colors, and the goofy face but. It's been my home since, i was born. I was raised, here, by rock. Climbers. Miguel's. Is. A rock climbing destination. A restaurant. A home for many. And we uh. Been doing it for 35, years. It used to be so small, that like. If you weren't parked in the front of miguel's, like you didn't climb at the red river gorge i mean it was just. That was that. So you literally met like everyone that ever came here. It made this community, that was just. Ungodly. Strong. Because it was just year after year of like everyone, knowing everyone. The community. It's changed. Almost a drastic, level from when i was like a little kid. It was full of these misfit, kind of climbers, that were drawn to the area because it wasn't restricted. What do you mean what are you coming on what and what they're doing what they're doing it's. Dangerous. Obviously with growth, there's always like a side effect right. People, kind of lose, touch of like how. Small it really is and how special, it is. I still think it's strong here. We wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for like, hundreds of rock climbers coming here and working for us every year. There's a lot of people that really still just embrace, rock climbing for, more than how hard they climb. Maybe that's going away i don't know, maybe we're losing. That. This year. I just. Found myself kind of needing a project. I've been on the road all year. And. I needed. A little stability. And i thought about the tiwal, triple crown. Which is 3512c. Roof. Cracks. I had done one of the hardest, already, and, i came down to. Try, celestial, mechanics. And hands across america. I really want to be the first woman who does, all three. My name is kathy, carlow. And i'm 33.. I produce a podcast. Called for the love of climbing. While some of these stories, are about climbing. They, are more about, deeper, societal, issues. And, we should be having these conversations. Within the climbing community. When i'm not working. I'm. Usually, out rock climbing. This is celestial, mechanics. It is. An off width and, one of the.
Three. 512. Sea roof cracks at the tennessee, wall. And off with is a crack. That, you have to put your whole body inside of. Okay. That's it. But your body won't fit inside of it so you have to use parts of your body. Instead. And you move like, usually, an inch at a time. Some people like to describe an off with, as like a. Uncomfortable. And. Claustrophobic. Feeling that comes along with it right and i think it's really intimate. Sometimes. Textured. The fact. That another woman, hasn't. Done the triple crown it was surprising to me because there's so many strong women who live in chattanooga, and climb here, and i don't know i think the cool thing about doing, one. Seemingly, impossible, or hard thing is that it kind of just makes it seem a lot more possible for everyone else. I haven't been in one place for longer, than a month all year so, being here for three months like, it already feels good to know that i've got. Not. Unlimited, time but a decent amount, of time to really kind of. Yeah, lay my out. And, deal with. It. So. Foreign. My. Is. You. So i'm living there you see. Yeah, it's like a castle. Like a medieval, castle. Come here. I'm building a tiny house but it's secret you don't tell it to anybody here. So, it's a total secret. Excuse me. So it is yeah i will show you you can put it in the phone. I i spent my winter, in a in a cave. And for this moment because i'm not living now in the cave but in the winter maybe again. Then we we take this. With us, because the candles. Are making, my cave, very beautiful. Show you a little bit how how it works this is the original. There it's important. The jersey, books. It's a big big big. Huge palace. Yeah. Much rooms, much floors. And now we are on the big garden terrace. In front of the youth. Studio, you saw. You say studio. The people want to climb. I want to go bouldering, in avolonia. And so i make topos. And each summer, i make a new. Toppo. At first i i go up. I have to make first the terrace and all this. But then. I create, boulders. And then i draw. These. Boulders. And on weekends, saturday and sunday, i sell my books in the area. People coming to avolonia, from everywhere. And buying my books, the toppos. Why. Do you. Base your covers off of the children's, books. Because. We, are children. When we, go. Bouldering. I think that is what's important, about bouldering. That we teach. The adults. Being childs. Again. I i tried, once. One week, one week i tried to be adult. After one week i had enough. I, i decided, no no adult, no not nothing for me. Across, into a decent, hold. Kind of a good hold. Match. Not many. Millennials. Are, raised. In the climate community, so.
I've Seen the difference. Um, climbing outside when i was younger and climbing outside now, and i've seen the traffic. The, kind of boom of climbing. It's good but it's also kind of. Scary because they're not educated. I think it's also. Kind of a responsibility. That falls on us, to educate those new. Climbers. I think a lot of people, become. Passive aggressive, when they see new climbers, outside. Seeing it with. Older, climbers. Like ah gumbys. But i mean, they're going to be gumbies if you're not doing anything to, teach them otherwise. Being, in the medical, field and working at a hospital i've seen climbing accidents. I had patients, who were hurt, climbing. Because they were uneducated. So. I've come up with a presentation. To do at, the gyms. Rei, whoever will host it, it's, a lesson. On the etiquette, you'd want to have when you're outside. This is, just, for. My love, of climbing, and wanting, people to love it too and, to do it. Safely. Most people think miguel's, dead. Yeah, harry you'll hear it all the time he's like yeah he died years ago or does he even work here, and he's like making the dough. You make him are you making bread. You want to. You want to come in here. Can these guys come in here. This is my paw right here. He's the backbone, of the business. No i'm not yes you are. So many people go into business and they like draw, business, plans. Have all these people that think, how businesses, run and they got it all like sussed out. This has all just been holding on for the ride and figuring out as we go. Climbers said can you make us something to eat. And my wife said, i think i've made pizza before let's try that. So we, we did we i knew how to bake bread so we started making pizza and that's how it started i mean it was. Nothing. Everything evolves. You know it's like and then we kind of grew up with the climbers, as you know we grew up with them they you know it was just. Big family really yeah we just. It was a family, i missed those guys back from the 80s, and, 90s. Golden age. It was a good time i really had a good time with them. I had. I miss it sometimes. Now that i'm 67. I missed that. I was, 26.. Yeah. That's what this place is about, really, is. They're coming here they're taking a break from their lives. And, they can grow. Basically, you know, get a little bit more mature to get a little bit of experience, in their lives. And it's really good you know some of them have, issues, and problems, and they can. They can work them through you know climbing, does that. Last week i had my daughter here helping me out every day at dough. And she was flowering. Yes. She's covered, in, flowers. She's a tough little girl, she's a tough girl. When i went to college, i. Had time to kind of reflect, of where i came from. And then i. Started really appreciating. How good of a thing that i grew up in and like. That the world doesn't really, offer, a lot more than that. Okay. This place was unique, and you know just because i was so sucked into it for so long and. Didn't have time to step back. It's hard to realize that stuff until you walk away and you go wow yeah this is like a community that like truly cares about me and. I care about them and. And they've always been there. Once i realized that. As soon as i could get back, i. Did. Cool. So i'm going. We're going. I might have you scooch a little bit closer to the leg actually, just like it just sounds. Less. Echo. All any of us want is for someone to listen to our story. I produce a podcast. Called for the love of climbing. It's not a climbing podcast. It's people's personal, story seen. Through the lens of climbing. But it's about so much more. So, you know we're just going to go ahead and rip the band-aid off here and you know get to it, i wanted to tackle, this very complex, topic, of intersectionality. Of race and diversity, and climbing. You are one of two, regularly, seen black climbers. In stone summit in atlanta. Um. They said uh quote unquote the black guy with the dreads which i'm, guessing you probably, get fairly often. The first.
Two To three years, i was pretty much the only, black, person that was climbing, in the gym. Especially in the southeast, i was for the longest time the only black person that you would see getting outside consistently. It. It can feel a bit alienating, at times. It's not the first time that i've really felt. Really isolated, in that sense. You're not going to feel welcome. In, a certain community, if you don't see people who look like you within that community. I don't know i think there's got to be like a major shift. I want you to. Recognize. How. Much, you're helping, change. And challenge, things like you know bigotry, and these bigger, social stereotypes. Within our climate community. We're just trying to bridge that empathy gap i guess you know. Because that's, that's what climbing's about it's about showing up for, other people. And, i don't know you can't show up for other people, until you give a. I, grew up in a family, where. We didn't, express, our emotions. And. If there was a problem, you, just, didn't talk about it. And i think a lot of. That, has carried over, into. The work that i do now. I. See the importance. Of, not. Sweeping. Things under the rug. There's a reason that people have psychotic, rights, somebody, nobody prepares, you had a more it's not getting any easier, you think that it will i do. I want you to like emotionally. I'm an indian woman. They think i'm going to be a weak link. About our stories, that we really can have social impact. As climbers, we focus on, being hard and strong and, i don't know i want people to see. That. Being strong and vulnerable. Are one in the. Same. Um. Foreign. Foreign. A. Be. Foreign. Here. We first of all just want to thank everybody for coming out on uh such a cold day you're all awesome. What we'll do here is we're going to divide, in a minute and those who are here to help out with the trail, work, we're going to have you guys, see the access fund and lindsay. And then those that are going to be uh doing re-bolting. Me and brent. Will be doing. That. We're going to go and remove. Some bolts. That are antiquated. From like the 80s and 90s, that have started to rust. And it could become. A, liability. Or, in worst case scenario, it could mean somebody's life if those anchors fail. Being a young person, and the future generation. Of climbers. I think it's highly important for people my age, and.
Younger, Or older, to, continue. To. Seek the value, and why stewardship, is important, in the community. This presentation. Is on gym to crack. I say it's a lesson for the new and, a reminder, for the experience. Most of you mentioned, wanting to start climbing outside which is awesome, and that's why i'm here because i want you to enjoy climbing, outside. I've heard people say it's great to see more money being put into climbing. It's good for the industry. More people are being exposed, to it. But. Is it good for the places we climb. I know. Climbing's got to get. More. Responsible. Right now people are oh, i love climbing. I just want to go all the time. But what am i going to do with my climbing what am i going to do to. Give back to climbing, to the people who climb, to. My community, of climbers. There's plenty of opportunities, there's no shortage of opportunities, to go out and. Do advocacy, work actual. Work. So i don't want a second content blow. I don't want a white forest. Yeah we call that french those are french. Flowers. I don't want these. French flowers, here so so i have to make really round and clean, everything, up. The toilet is clean nobody has. In, i. The whole weekend nobody. In i i don't understand. The everywhere, not in the toilet but. Whatever. Oh. I see something bad now. Uh this is important for the french flowers you don't want to, pan. And then we have a white flower. Oh. Yeah. We put it here. I give it to my. Grandma. Thing. On that special day, come over me. Can you, tell us what. Was going to happen today. Yes. I can tell because. At 12 o'clock the mayor, is coming. I really want that she. Thinks, okay. Wow, this project, is now part of her city. And, around this i thought, of, doing my most, favorite, thing. One of my most favorite thing to place his memories, down. So i. Have to finish a little bit but it's not much and. And then i will carry it up and place. It. Oh. Good to see you. We don't want to disturb, you. Hello bruce, break my english my english is so good. Not so perfect, i'm sorry. This is very beautiful. Oh thank you, oh. This is so. Beautiful. He is written, for pelle, and peter. So, peter, was my. Big big friend. And that was a big, tragedy. When he died. I have explained to you that we like climbers. Do. Often, very. Dangerous, things. So. Peter and me, we, did, a lot of free solo together. But we didn't die. Yeah that is 25, years ago. And suddenly, when he was, 44. He. He walked, to a rock in south africa. And on the way to the rock. He fall. No, yeah 20 meters down. So, that was a really, tragedy. And, so i was really, sad about it, and i figured out to make this pigeon, for him. The connection, between the dead and the. Yeah. How many. Years are you working here now, like, 11 years for 11 years. Here. Yeah in avalonia. Oh i didn't know that since 2008. Yeah i i did it in an artistic. Way, you know. Yeah, but you, did a great job. Very great job, and i think we can be very proud of. Your work here because, it, makes, the landscape, even more beautiful. And, with meaning, and uh yeah, something very special here in our, city. Thank. You. This. Is. My. Oh. I like the act of sitting down and taping up. I think it's very, uh, like meditative, you know. Plus it makes you feel like, you're, prepping, for. Battle. My knot's hot. I got everything in my maker kit. Loaded. Yeah yeah yeah. Do it. The podcast, was about four episodes. In. Before my entire life. Changed. Completely. I. Was sexually. Assaulted. And. Because, of that. I have spent, the last. Year of my life. Trying to. Unpack, it, and. Running. Away. I couldn't deal with my grief, for a really long time. And. Instead. I. Was trying to find some sort of healing, through other people's. Grief, and. Loss. Come on. I don't have the energy. There was something, about.
Taking, All the stories that i had, been listening to and recording. And. Creating. Something, from. From a really painful, place. If that makes any. Sense. A lot of. What i have been personally, going through. Has affected. Pretty much every, corner of my. Life. I finished i figured out the finish. That feels so good, that doesn't feel. Good. Okay i'm in you can take. Hey. Thanks. I love you, that feels so good that feel. Felt so much better. Fun fact i think i just got my period up. There. Did you start carrying it because i told you to. Shut up you're awesome. Shall we go rock climbing. You got everything you need, yes. You're gonna be warm enough. Um. All right let's go. All right let's go. Save the rocks. Cedar. Uh. Like, me. Grew up. I mean she's eight years old and she's been around climbers since day one. I mean she's like fully submerged, in that. World. I'm not that crazy, parent that's pushing their kid to rock climber, you know i just want. I want her to grow up around these people because i think they're good, people. For her to learn her life. This one. I know. Nice work. That's, really beautiful. That's how i used to do it oh style points. When she was about one. She had you know like any kid. Newborn, has trouble sleeping, right, but it was like. It was getting bad. You know it was like man there's there was no colic, and there was none of this other stuff. They started. Figuring, out that you know there was something wrong you know and. Finally they were able to diagnose, it was this rare liver disease, called p52. Which i think at the time. There was like. 50. Kids with this genetic, disorder. In the world. It was getting rough. And then we realized that her liver was pretty much just failing. And, she had, you know three to four years before her liver would give out on her. She had to go back to the hospital. To get on a. Liverlist. Foreign. My. Okay. Foreign. So. Be. Know. I have not. Many. Nice hours, in my life. The mayor, she don't know this, about my past. Feels me good to see that she is now proud of my work. That is important. I'm a freak, you know i had really hard times, in germany. For the really saying you. They put me for seven years. Into psychiatry. They put me into. These. Darkest, rooms of germany. You you can't leave this, type of secretary, is the darkest. Hole. The germans said that i'm. I'm ill. They put me into this sort of prisons. I was in, 15. Ugly. Places. So i had really, hard times this long time ago. After the death of my, father. And so. I had hard time to switch my life. And to show. That i'm not, this ill. That i'm not this. Man with them tell me. I can't say. All these things briefly, you know. I didn't want to say it in front of camera, but. Let's go to the world now that it's not only happy. And now we. Run. I'm not. Close with my family, and so when i started climbing that was. This. Wonderful, weird, makeshift, family. And. It, just grew and grew over the years. And. For me, for where i'm at right now, i, i just. I feel like i've lost it a little bit and so it's hard for me to like speak, about the climbing community as a whole right now because. It's. It's just changed, for me, so much, and. I don't know. So i'm working with peter. It's beautiful, to work with peter. Have you ever heard like someone refer to a sport or something, saving their life, because i feel like that's what climbing is. Mental illness kind of runs in our family on both sides. As i was. Entering, high school. I. Was struggling. With, depression. It was like a perfect, winter day. And i had fallen going to the anchors, and i just like something screwed up and i was like oh i'll def i'm going to do that next go i definitely got this.
And Then. I had got the call. They had found a liver for. Cedar. Sprinted, out of there and. Didn't even pick up my climbing, gear. And then we went into like a, 23-hour. Surgery. And she like flatlined. Three times like it was like. Really, sketchy. The community, support, for like, our, daughter was, mind-blowing. Climbers, bought us food at the hospital, the entire time it was a different. Set of climbers every day for like months. We had multiple. Climbers, and people we knew that were willing to be living donors, for. And it just like it was so humbling. I've gone through these. You know you go through waves through life and. Through those low times, climbing was like. There for. Me. He was my friend, who. When i was in deepest, home. He stand by my side. He never. Said no you're not my friend anymore. There are not many people. Making this time with you. You understand, maybe. There were a lot of, inappropriate. Or disappointing. Reactions. I mean i think ultimately, i just. Needed. The community. To. Hold space. You know, and, lean in, and just sit with. Me. And but i i have the letter. Before he died. That he asked me. If he can. If we. Want to do bolder, areas. Together. Because he didn't want to, work like an engineer, anymore. And sometimes he's thinking of making boulder areas with me. And i've written him. Yeah it can be. We. We're making ebola, areas together. Better. I've always see myself as a very hopeful. Person. And i. Suddenly, had. None. And when you run out of hope. You either have to dig really deep. Or you don't. You. Know. So i dug deep. And then come back in and kind of do a sit up, and then. Sit up into this, kind of crimp on the wall. And then that's where i couldn't find the rest, i did eventually, but you kind of just like twist your legs in that little like hole. And then stop the hand here. Slot a good jam here. Hook the four. And then. Fist, after the four. Slide this in here and then bring your whole body around and that's when you kick your feet up. In. Everything, that i've gone through, not just, this past year but, my whole life. It's helped my climbing, tremendously. When, it gets hard on a climb. I just. Go back in my head and i'm like. You got through all of this. This is. Nothing. My entire life i would never describe myself, as a fighter but, the minute i started climbing. A thousand. Percent. Ugh. Huh. Uh. Down. I was the only one who had the power to make that happen. Pulling it all from. Within. You know all these things i'm doing. It's. Therapy. Don't think about. The bad. Just. Taking, your new, path. I think, climbing, has, provided a lot of guidance. Allowing me to open up or feel okay, being different. At a young age you're not, taught, you're not given any. Healthy ways. Of coping you know. I have something. I have a lifestyle. And i think a lot of kids are like. Struggling. To figure out what they want to do. Know. If you're a very serious climber, that's great. But also, think about, the ways that you can give back. I've grown up in this community, and i've been part of it my whole life and it was like the one time when i, i really needed it. And, people just like. It was insane. So many people were there for us. At like the hardest time of my life, people just stood up and were like hey. Dario's daughter is sick let's help him out. And so i'm, quite proud now. That i may be. Seen like an artist. Not like an old person. And i can't be here like a human being. The same way that, creating, has been really healing for me. Climbing, has been, so healing for me and. I feel really lucky for. That. We talk a lot about how we want to make. Our climbing, community. Better. And stronger. Every day. But. I feel like one way you can make. It better. Is by listening. You gotta find something you gotta do with your life. It's not just about you it's what you. Do for, basically, other people. If everybody's, doing for others then, everybody's doing for themselves, basically, you. Know. Oh. Climbing isn't always the answer. Kind of leads them into like, finding an answer you know. Start, again. When i think about the soul, of, climbing. And, what it could look like. It can. Change, in. The brightest, most beautiful ways and, and it's not just for you or for me, you know. It's for. Everybody. So. I think it's just like the nature of being, upside down, too you just, i like, a little earpiece. It's fine. Sir you better come down here and uh. Come down, my piece and support me while i'm here otherwise, i'm going to be. Starving, to death.
Probably, My. Goats. It's. This is the way it always works. Before he goes to. Bed. All right thank you all for watching the film stone locals, and thanks for joining us for this panel discussion. Uh my name is timmy o'neill. And i've been climbing, for, over 30 years, i'm a climbing, ambassador, for patagonia. And i'm really excited to get into a discussion. Around the how and why of this film. So i'd like to take a moment and have our panelists. Uh introduce, themselves. I'm just going to. Prompt you guys, mikey if you could just introduce yourself please, yeah my name is mikey schaefer, i am, one of the directors, of the film co-directed, it with shane. Um, been a climber, for. Almost, 30 years now i guess i'm at like 29, years or something like that so and. Been a pretty active member in the climbing community for most that time. Thanks so much and i'll send it over to you kathy. Hi my name is kathy carlow, and i, have been an unprofessional, climber for nine years now, um, and, i, i do a little bit of everything i have my hands and all the cookie jars so i work for a film festival, and i produce a podcast. Uh in my spare, time. Thank you kathy and brandon, to you, hey how's it going y'all i'm brandon belcher i come from atlanta georgia. I've been climbing for about eight years now and uh i'm a regional ambassador, for scarpa. Gnarly nutrition. And asana crash pads. And lastly. To you shane. Uh my name is shane lempy and i co-directed. The film with mikey. And i've been climbing. For. 12 years 13, something like that right now awesome. Well mikey let's get right into it so like where did the idea. Come. For stone locals. And how did it develop, over time, well actually, patagonia, approached, shane and myself. With the idea originally. I think they were trying to. Well they wanted to make a film that sort of. Showed the other side of climbing. You know climbing's, gone through a lot of changes lately. Um, i think with free solo. A lot more people just know about climbing, but that's all they sort of saw, was that side of it. And then, you know climbing, is gonna, was supposed to be in the olympics, this summer, um obviously those have been postponed. Um, so i i think. Yeah patagonia, really wanted to show the communal side and not just, the, sport, side. Which is what a lot of people. Uh have seen. And are aware of so, yeah we want to do something pretty different that really got in depth with uh some of the, sort of key members, of the climbing community. Great and it's so cool that you guys do such a deep dive into the lives, of these people. Um and shane i wanted to ask you, about that whole process, of finding. Uh the stone locals. And what the criteria. And qualities. Uh were what were they involved in finding everybody. Yeah so basically. Um. As soon as we. Realized, like okay like the film is actually gonna happen now we have to like find all these people. That will sort of fit within this. Idea. Um, and basically. What we did from there is we wanted to be. Like. Sort of like these unsung, heroes like within their communities. And so, basically. Every person on the crew and the producers, at patagonia, like, and, we reached out to pretty much everybody we knew like hey we want to make a film about this like do you know anybody. And so then we compiled, like this really really long list and then.
We Continued, distilling, it down, more and more and more and then like, a couple of them, like we're like oh yeah absolutely, like, no-brainer, but then some of them were like. This is kind of wild card but like, we've got a good feeling about it and we just went for it you know even though there was like, risk of failure with some of those and how long did that process, take from when you guys were conceiving, of the project. To where you narrowed it down, to the individuals, in the film, i think well from the time like i remember, mikey, gave me a call, in like january, and then we started filming, in like. October. Or something like that and so like the whole, pre-production, was like, pretty drawn out we really really. It felt important, to all of us to really find like, the right people. That would fit, for it you know. Right on. And then that fit is interesting because, you're looking for people, and then they have to agree to be a part of this, and kathy i'm serious with you. What was that like to be approached, by. The producers. And by mikey and shane. And did you have any hesitation. Or is this something that you felt comfortable, with, doing, especially such a deep dive into your life what was that process, like i was pretty honored to even be considered, um i do a lot of work within the community but i i feel like like i put my work consistently, out there for a while but um. I definitely. Didn't see myself, as, uh. Like. A feature of a film like somebody who you know whose story should be told, um or necessarily, deserve to be told and so. Um. Honestly, there wasn't a lot of hesitation. Because i i tend to be an open book with a lot of things but, um then actually going through the process of it was quite different, uh just kind of. Unpacking. Things like in the moment like in the exact moment you know like filming, and that sort of thing so it was kind of yeah it was a really, good growing, experience, i think for me. With your podcast. Which, is, how we meet brandon, in the film. And when you describe, your. Podcast. I'm just quoting here how we are all really just. Shining, examples. Of this messy, human experience. Right. So i'm curious. How does climbing, help, to bring order. To that messiness. Uh for yourself, personally. Like, and if so how does it do it we all have this. Image, that we put out there whether intentional, or unintentional. And, the fact of the matter is there's so much that goes behind the scenes and the same goes with climbing right we see like, you know the big accomplishments. And sometimes the failures, that come come with it but, all the work that goes, into. The actual, climb itself, um. You know those stories don't get told, as much. And. For me personally, the step-by-step, process, is so huge when it comes to climbing when it comes to anything in life so. Um, yeah just being able to. Very, honestly. Tell a story, i think, is. Is a real. I don't know, like that's a real skill, storytelling. And when you're telling that, honest, story and there's that vulnerability. That comes into it, um and that's what like your podcast. Really, seems to exemplify. For the love of climbing. And in the story, in stone locals when we meet. You brandon. They're. Using, that scene, to provide the depth that, you have, kathy. And that you look for in your storytelling. And brandon, even though we don't get a chance to really, develop, your story, in the film, it gives us an opportunity. To gather. More insight, and develop that so i was curious if you could just tell us, a little bit about. Growing up in atlanta. I'm from a large urban area from philadelphia. And how did you go about finding. And using, green spaces, or open spaces. In atlanta, as a kid you know i kind of grew up in the metro atlanta, area just like west of atlanta, called a, town called powder springs. And it you know when i was there it was very much kind of like a. It was like a suburban, area but it was like kind of country as well so i did spend a lot of time outside of my friends just kind of like biking around the woods. Kind of getting lost in the woods and stuff like that and you know feeding horses, and people's farms and everything, so. I've always had like a pretty. Had a pretty good connection, with. Nature but it was very much like. Enclosed, into like a small circle within my neighborhood, right, at what point did you find climbing. What was it what was the bridge for climbing into your life, i went to like my local, to the local gym that had opened up probably like a year before i started climbing. A place called stone summit, and. You know i used to do like auto boy like, top rope and stuff like that and i would use that facility, to do like more of my training, um like weight training more calisthenics, training, um. And then once i started like bouldering, a lot more and then getting better at like, um top rope climbing and then eventually getting into sport climbing and then i started bouldering at a harder grade.
Um, It you know. My focus kind of switched to. Climbing. And then once i started climbing outside, it kind of, became more of an obsession. Excellent. Yeah it's interesting, like, that that. Move from, being in urban areas, and then to more rural areas than into wilderness. Um and mikey. That's something that you've been doing as we mentioned for, almost three decades, now. And and you are what somebody i would consider to be so local, through, your route development. Through the exchange, of skills. Uh providing, opportunities. What was the process like for you, in winnowing, down in the. As far as like looking for those qualities, that, that you have as well or i mean i think we wanted to find people that are making. True impacts, on the community, and climbing, that. Were, really supportive, of the community. And then, the community. In return, sort of supported, them, but we really wanted, you know active members, people. Not necessarily just route developers, because that can often be. A bit of a selfish activity. We wanted people really they were out there doing things that was like really. For the community. Um, and i you know i guess i can kind of relate to that because that's, sort of how i. Try to engage with the community, as well. Um. And it was interesting when we were asking. You know uh, all of our friends and we did get a lot of like, people are like oh these guys put up all these routes and all that and i was like yeah that's that's like kind of part of it but in the end it's not really, there's a lot of routes already right we're kind of we're good on routes we need people now to nurture the sport. Um to be mentors, for others. To share the stories, so. Um. Yeah it definitely, it took a while though to find all those people. Well it's interesting because it's such a human, portrayal, of climbing. Um when when i when i watch the film like, this is person, first. And it made me think of that person first language, done a lot of work around disability. And it's always the person, first, and then perhaps the disability, they may have. And this really felt like that for climbing it was, really the person. Is coming first in this. And then you have the climbing portrayal. And i was murdering. Uh, with you kathy. With. Daniel, who's the german artist in the film he's this amazing, climber, and deep thinker. Um but what he's talking about his car's memory stone. He says that they're not, not an answer but a symbol. Um the tree sort of gets to the heart of climbing. That the act of climbing, itself provides an opportune, opportunity. To seek. To learn and to better oneself. And i was curious with you kathy how has, how's the active finding. Allowed you to grow. Well, i think that. The act of climbing. And, and so much of what this film, represented. Um. For me is about holding space right and there's so many different ways we can do that, and it's interesting right because we've heard that phrase, a lot holding space for other people holding space for ourselves and what does that really mean i mean you know, it can be anything from having, having kind of like a hard day out, climbing, and giving yourself some self compassion, and not being too hard on yourself, you know to, i mean there's just so many examples of it but, i mean at the. Root of it. I think that to understand, what holding space. Really means. Is to understand. The difference between, having sympathy, and empathy, i feel like, you know because.
Being Sympathetic. Right is. Understanding. How someone else is feeling but but, empathizing, with them is connecting to that feeling and, that's so much of climbing, is just like the connections, that we're building right. We're creating these like dynamic. Relationships, all the time so, and you talked about this. In the film this sort of sense of community, that these, these you know these weird. You know wild individuals, that come together. Through climbing. And i was curious brandon. Um. When we meet you in the film you're talking about, uh being the black guy with dreads, right and even though we come together. Under, sort of that uniformity, of climbing, we all come from these different backgrounds. And i was curious on how you feel. Um all of us and in particular, your role is, uh within the climate community sort of mentoring. And bringing people in how that's changed for you. Now that you mentioned you know working with different companies, and becoming, more of a, high profile. Climber. How that relationship, has changed for you with, introducing, people into the climate. I suppose after the after the podcast episode came out. Um a lot of, people. Resonated, with it positively. A lot of people within, like the bypoc, or like dlc community, climate communities, like they were really like having like having similar feelings. Um or similar experiences. And i think it really encouraged, people to be a bit more outspoken. And it really. Empowered people to like use like use their voices to. Just kind of like share their experiences. Uh share their perspectives. And kind of hopefully. Help others within the community like understand, like where we're coming from, um, and understand, like some of the difficulties, that some that some folks in the community are having, um. I would say that's. The biggest impact that that. Has really been had because people, have felt very empowered to just be a bit more outspoken, and just really share their experiences. Um in such a. Vulnerable way, um, in in such an open way, via social media platforms, and things like that, you mentioned. And. The blm, movement right it's it's never been, as widely. Resonating. And as importantly. And, we're talking about, you know those changes that we can all make. And, it's interesting when thinking about it in terms of like decline. That you know you don't envision yourself on the summit but this is these small. Moves you make, even if it's a boulder problem, it's these you know continual. Small adjustments, or small movements that we can make. Um shane i was curious. With, you. With the process. Of creating the film and being deeply, immersed, in it, that you spent, i think it was over a year editing, this, club, you know, and and how it was, when you're so close to something. Um and you need to have changes, or you need to get outside, perspectives. What that was like. Yeah. How making those changes. Possible. Like when you're so close to something was it difficult, to, pull yourself out and take that big review. Yeah that's a, really good question and that's like one of the, the hardest, parts, in editing is like, because you get so. Tunneled in and so focused, on. Like this idea, you have or this idea that someone else had that you're trying to, try and create in the edit and that's. And for me editing. Um. Like when i. You know co-editing.
With. Um. Juliet. It. Was. Like everything is based on feel right and so it's like there's no neces not necessarily, like a formula, that you follow like oh that you do this this and this you know it's based on like i don't know like, this. Like we have all the right puzzle pieces in there but it just it feels, off you know and in that like you get to spend so much time with, all the footage and with all these people you know like. You're spending. Like more time like i've spent more time with all of the characters in the film than i have like with my family in like the last five years you know it's like every single day for months you know, and so. Um, yeah it's it's, it is, like, it's a learning process, and and i'm learning to get better at that about being able to step back and, one thing that's really really helpful, is. You know at incremental. Points you know when uh julia and i would be working on the edit. Uh, we would have like. We would screen it for you know our friends or, you know people we didn't know as well you know like small. Gatherings. And, like. Um. Like one that's really helpful because. There's some things that like. Won't really make sense like it makes sense to me because i was there and i understand, everything, but to other people like oh this doesn't make sense you know, and then the second part is, just, physically, being with another person, while they're there like, it's it's quite revealing, of certain parts you're like that you kind of cringe about you're like oh like, for some reason like that felt really off you know. But i think expanding, that perspective. Is extremely, difficult, especially. When. Um you're getting towards the end of the editing process, something isn't. You keep trying trying and trying. You tear it all apart and then try to put it back together. You know but i think, um yeah there's like a really really. Incredible, team like where we all like. Um came together with feedback, and just like, really like dug our heels in to try to. Like. Really. Make these stories, as, as true. To, what it was in real life and like. Made it feel as it felt like while we were there listening, to, you know these stories that were being like told to us if that makes sense. No it totally makes sense and it's interesting because. You're not only capturing, it but then you're, you're going to create, and then share. This person's story so there's a sense of responsibility. That, you're mentioning, that comes with that.
And And then a sense of, you know that creativity. That goes into it as well, uh congratulations. To the way you guys, intermixed. The stories, as well, um and we keep coming back it was almost like, it's a cliffhanger, and then i've gotta i wanna find out what's happening with that person, so we did you guys did a really great job of making me care. Um and be invested. With the individuals, in the film. Uh mikey, what i was wondering, with with the process, of. You know. Making this film and, sharing these stories. What do you feel, is the. The relevancy. Of this film and how important, is it. Um, yeah i mean i think. Now more than ever, i mean community, is like extremely. You know important to climbing, uh we're all, sort of struggling. You know i feel like by ourselves. And sort of knowing that there's others out there that care about the thing that we all love together. Um. I i think that's helpful, you know i think um. And then also just showing like i guess how complex, climbing, is right now and like how we can all, you know give back and participate. Um i think that's, just like incredibly, important. Um you know yeah, given all that's going on. As you mentioned like this the, lack of community, when you can't actually be with each other due to covert restrictions. And children, in place. And then being able to see a film like this. And get that sense, yeah i think it's going to help like sort of remind, people that you know the community's, still out there, um even if you haven't been able to participate, in it lately i think it's still uh it's still there, and kathy i was wondering about, if you could also speak to the. Why is this film relevant, and why is it important, now. Creating, these spaces. For people to. To speak their, their truths, and you know there's something really powerful about it and, and the thing that's so powerful about it is when you do it like again you're, you're strengthening. These. Really dynamic. Relationships. You know between, climbing partners between you know like people and like the the sport itself. And you're giving it so much more room to grow, versus.
Not Sharing these stories not talking, openly, and honestly. Um, about your lived experiences. Because. Then, you just create these. Drifts, right like you you create ceilings, and like there's no space for it to grow, the relationships. They won't have you know be able to, to grow any legs right and like, just opening, up. So much of that like it opens up so many conversations. And, uh and everybody can take part of it right and that's like part of what creates all these like really, colorful. Very, you know, dynamic, and rich threads, of you know through climbing, the sport that we all love, um and really like honestly, truly brings us together. The type of climbing you're doing like on celestial, mechanics, and these, burly, roof tracks that are, so, physical, and, really unusual. I mean it's you're electing, this type of challenge, that, is unique, and you can see it in the film like how powerful. Both physically. And and, emotionally. And and, intellectually, that it's requiring, you to overcome. Your. Ascent. And, that same, choice. It seems like you also go into. Facing, and dealing with and and, sharing, that vulnerability. And what's happening with you, on an emotional, level, like there's a strong, corollary. That same sort of ferociousness. That you bring to climbing these roof cracks. You also bring to your vulnerability. And you sense that, those things, being combined. Yeah absolutely, i think both of those things they kind of they run parallel with one another, and just so many. I mean on the one hand it's like you know taking on like a really, like a seemingly, impossible. Rock climb. Um. And, and then making it possible, it just like it opens the door, for so many other, you know men and women to go and try it right like once one person shows someone like that this, thing is possible. It just creates. You know like a new path, for other people and the same with you know opening, up and sharing. You know these really hard difficult, experiences. That, you know really the only way to. Learn and heal and grow from them is to talk about them and like no not everybody's, going to stand by it and relate to it but, i mean, there's so much freedom and just yeah. Doing it, i guess on your own terms if that makes sense. No it totally makes sense and it's, so cool to see in the film. How vulnerable. You are and dario. And daniel, and, and everyone, in here again it's a very personal, story and very, human portrayal, of climbing. And it's that dialogue. Um, where, the family in salt lake city is working with the community around stewardship. And miguel's, again is around stewardship, of these, large climbing, communities. I'm curious with you brandon. And your experience, in atlanta. How has the atlanta, climbing, community been growing. Has it have you seen development, in it, and, if so. Where do you feel it still needs to keep developing. Like what are those changes, that you see that need to happen in the atlantic, climate community. Um, atlanta is a little hard right now, um. You know of course we have like you know, gyms keep opening up in the city and more and more people are interested with. With the overall activity. Um, getting the climbing, getting into gym climbing primarily. Um. And a lot of the people who are. I would say more like leaders of the community, or um. Kind of put themselves out there in the community, like like doing like stewardships. And like trail days, or who are like becoming board members of like the other, local climbing, coalition, the southeastern. Climbing climbing, coalition. Um you know a lot of them end up you know moving up the chat and stuff like that, and so. It's. Hard because we. We kind of lose a lot of people. Um. To cities like they end up leading, leaving to go to cities like chattanooga, or birmingham. And, you know main reason is because, all the climbing is near there you know if you live in atlanta. The closest climbing spot is like boat rock 30 minutes away but typically your commute is about two two and a half hours. To get to most crags which isn't you know bad for a day trip obviously, but, you know if it's something that you're really wanting to pursue consistently. You know typically you're gonna end up moving. Um. I think what atlanta. Is lacking. Is a good like centralized. Space, where a community, or, where we're able to cultivate, community. Um i would say. Our, local gyms are a bit more, revenue focused. And not necessarily, focused, on. Developing, community. Or, you know really developing. Or really i guess like teaching and like mentoring.
The. Individuals, who like you know coming to the gym to you know do things like make sure that they learn about like you know leave no trace practices, learn about like how to set up like proper anchor systems and like other safety protocols, things like that um. You know the. Unfortunately, with like the commodification. Of climbing, you know you end up sacrificing. Community, and also just like these other like important things that people need to learn, in order to like safely and ethically. You know participate, in our sport whether it be inside the gym or outside, outside at the crag. Um, i would say that the atlanta community has has been lacking that. And and uh i wasn't visiting family in memphis and i think it's called memphis, rocks, there it's a really a community, based gym it's so amazing. The. Connection. It's really about the community, around the gym, and the overall, city that gets this, really amazing, invitation. The cost of the gym isn't prohibitive, like you're saying it's not about, commodity, pollution but the, community. Yeah. Uh shane i was wondering. You know you mentioned brandon sort of people moving away. Uh from the community to get closer and be closer to rom. Closer to projects, and stuff, and that concept, of you know climbing, harder. I was wondering, if you could speak to, the question of does climbing, hard, seem to matter less these days. And, so why is that, and you think it's only temporary. Yeah i don't know i think that's. A hard question. For me to answer because i'm like extremely, biased, you know like with, you know the wide. Like. Having. Been climbing. For. You know, this amount of time and having. You know so many experiences. Like. You know, the endorphins. And the beauty and like, like, the love of it that's so intense to like, you know friends dying and passing away, and like being burnt out and like, you know like. We were like, you know. And i'm currently like in a, in a phase where i'm like reevaluating. Those things. And. Trying, to. Um. Figure out like where whereas, where i'm on that right now but like as a storyteller. For me like. I guess it's incredible, to, tell these stories of these people who do these like superhuman. Feats you know but for me like, where my. My drive, my inspiration. Motivation, comes from is like, really connecting, with, these people, and. Um. Yeah and for for me like it's it's way less about. Like how hard it is you know it's like about, these these these stories, that are helping like humanize. These things that are really challenging to talk about especially in our community you know and, and i know at least in my group of friends that i've climbed with i've seen a big shift where it's like, it's like no it's like it's not all just about like, seeing, like, your fitness, and where you're at and how hard you climb but like you know everybody.
Like. Like there still is you know like the friendly competition. Stuff like that but, for me like as i, as my relationship, with climbing matures. It seems to. Like. The numbers, and the, like. The sort of the superficial. Aspect, of it like becomes, a little bit less important but for me it's like yeah the community. And even filming, like this, like shooting this film was, like like. Really like hit home like, harder than ever like wow. This community is something that i really really do care about. It's it's interesting, too because, you know with mikey mentions like the olympics, and climate becoming more popularized. Through mainstream, film. That it could seem like it's really the competition. Right, or it could mean like prep a little bit shallow so this film i think stone local. Really adds the substance, and it takes a deep why. Um. Dark, father miguel. Is quoted in the film at one point he says some of the climbers, have. Issues and problems. And they can work through them, climbing, does that. And, kathy i was wondering if you could speak to that because. You mentioned this a little bit earlier, but a lot of the a lot of the of the climbers. In the film, and a lot of people are dealing, with. Issues around, grief. Or around mental health, or around. You know coming to terms. Um so i was wondering if you could speak to that a little bit as well like climbing, being that vehicle. For you kathy personally. For me, you know when i had moved down to the southeast, for the winter i allotted for, you know two to three months to work on to take this project, on, and, you know there was the, the climber, within me right was looking for just like the hardest, physical challenge that i could i could find right because it's just like this huge. Outlet. And, um and it feels good to just like, try something, try your hardest, and just throw, yourself. At it over and over again, uh despite the outcome and i think like there was that part of my brain that needed that but also. Um. Dealing with so much, of my own personal, grief. Uh surrounding, these climbs. It just. Created, this mindset, where, and, you know like for me, i had already gone through some of the hardest things that i, had ever gone through in my entire life, um. And you know the climbs, comparably. Were. Not not even that big of a deal i guess in a way you know like if i could do this hard thing then like a rock climb like. It would be nothing, i guess you know, and so, uh it just yeah, kind of motivated me to. To really just buckle down and. And do it and i'm i'm not a projector. Per se but this became, not a climbing project but i guess more of like a life project.
You Know, for for the time period. I mean seeing this film, makes me, really wanted me to get to know everybody, better i'm like i want to go hang with kathy, and i want to go hang out with this family in salt lake city and do the stewardship. Projects, and i want to learn more of these stories, and i think. That's what. Really got me excited mikey you were talking to the earlier about, you know we're not able to necessarily, gather, like we've been at these events, and, get together at these festivals. But this does give me hope, mikey i was curious if you could, speak to. What you may feel. Still needs to change within the climbing community. I think one of the things i've like noticed, mostly. Um, i guess even over the last 10 years is, we've had this like incredible. Like expansion, of the sport, which is great right the more people are out there climbing, you know there's like, we're a bigger team which is which is great right. Um, but i think right now there's a bit of a disconnect, with a lot of the new climbers. Um. There's not like a lot of mentoring. Happening, there's not um. I feel like a lot of the knowledge isn't sort of being passed down. Um. And i. That worries me right that it really worries me that it's just like, i feel like. We're getting farther from the core, if you will. And i think we just need to like work on making sure that like all these new climbers are sort of like. Really understanding. Of what it means to be a climber, you know not in just the athletic, sense like what it means to just like represent, climbing, and to be a climber, to the general public like. To me that really yeah that seems like it's changed a lot and so. Just making sure that we are, we are good about, you know bringing the new climbers in and sort of uh. Yeah helping them understand, it, and i, love that process, personally, around i call it friend guiding. Me somebody who's a new climber and inviting them into my life, uh going and climbing, at a grade that, i could easily climb, but. Of information, right, and i was curious, with you brandon. Who was an early mentor for you. Did you find somebody in the comments community who, brought you in and talking about through it, somebody who was like i would have this experience. With you, come and join me. Yeah a few different people and i guess it's like kind of changed over the years you know as people have come and gone. Uh, i would say actually the person who. Taught me how to top rook belay, my first day coming to the gym this guy named chris harvalia. Uh, you know, once i got my, membership, and he had seen me kind of come to the gym a few times you know. He would he would, still be working and stuff like that but you know he. He teaches me how you know stuff like quiet feet and like how to like close hand grip or like you know how to properly like hold a sloper. Like make sure i don't like you know, uh do like a full cramp all the time and you know just kind of gave me like little tips and pointers here and there. And you know he's one of the first people actually, i went, um, he's one of the folks first people who i went uh sport climbing with outside when i went to the red river gorge for the first time like, after uh climbing for about a year. And you know he's the one who he taught me how to like you know. Make sure i don't like z-clip, when i'm like sport climbing and how to clean anchors and stuff like that um. And so like he was like one of the first people who really kind of like sat me down and just kind of taught me like general technique, and just like. How to just like kind of be safe, um. Just all sorts of things really and you know i still have like a couple people who i would say are li