Some people know what they want. They go after it with vigor, dedication, and acceptance of failure in the name of success. Some people climb The Nose over 100 times and hold world records and inspire thousands around them, despite degrees of separation. I guess what I’m trying to say, is, we spoke with Hans Florine, who will be at EVO LOU on May 17th and 18th:
You’re a mentor for many. You’re known as the pioneer of speed-climbing technique. Men’s Journal wrote an article titled “The Worlds Top Climbers on Why Hans Florine is Still the Greatest.” Do you feel any pressure from being in the spotlight as such an influential figure? Or is it pretty easy to just “do you?”
It is, no doubt, fun and rewarding to be recognized by your community. Despite our sport’s growth, it’s still a niche—I can walk in any airport in the world, and nobody recognizes me. If I go into a climbing gym or popular climbing cliff, it’s different. That said, the airport keeps me humble. I figure climbers who read about me don’t believe that. Any pressure I feel is all positive; I would love to share some wisdom with folks less experienced, and perhaps, save them from an epic, injury, or just an inconvenience. If I’m lucky, I might inspire someone to do something cool. So far, I’ve been pretty lucky.
In September 2016, you had your book On the Nose: A Lifelong Obsession with Yosemite’s Most Iconic Climb, published. Let’s say someone’s thinking, “Whatever, Hans, I’m never going to doing big wall climbing.” What would they learn from reading your book, anyway?
They’d learn about ME! But seriously, they’d likely learn that I’ve made some mistakes, and I’ve had some ‘successes.’ The following is a big truth: ‘successful people’ have failed more than people who are ‘failures.’ Successful people have just found a goal worth failing at. Granted, climbing El Capitan may not be worth it to you; we each have to decide for ourselves what is ‘worth failing at.’
In the book, I think there are some funny stories about my various (101), ascents of The Nose. There are some stories that I tear up at every time I read them—and given the number of edits and book readings I’ve done, I’ve teared up a good number of times. In the book, I attempted to explain why I would climb the route over 100 times, but here’s a sneak answer to that…gotchya!
A LIFELONG OBSESSION
I see what you did there…Dangit, Hans. I read that you believe speed climbing techniques are applicable to fundamentals of living life. Can you give me an example of how?
I have changed a diaper in 31 seconds! But more on that here.
Holy diaper speed record. However, you might find some parents who can compete at EVO LOU—where you’ll be visiting in two weeks. On May 17, you’re leading a “Training for Climbing” class. Can any level climber benefit? Can you tell me more about it?
I do the things that are good for your climbing, but is not climbing. (Climbing is the best thing for your climbing.) Some of it is opposing muscle stuff for injury prevention, some is flexibility exercise, some is core strengthening, some balance—kinda all the stuff that might be boring to do on your own, but with a group you’ve got accountability to get ‘er done. ANY ability level is encouraged. I can show the 5.3 and the 5.14 climber something. Try me.
HANS DOUBLES AS A PROFESSIONAL SPEAKER
Challenge accepted. What do you think the most beautiful thing about climbing is?
The community at EVO! Okay, that is part of it, but what’s also beautiful about climbing to me, is that your whole body, spirit, and mind are involved. You climb or ‘perform’ at your best when everything is working together to ‘solve’ the terrain in front of you. The grace under pressure that happens when you are climbing your best is a pretty special endorphin and all around high.
Amen. You’ve traveled all over the world, and visited outdoor crags and indoor gyms. Do you see many differences in climbers through the various cultures and communities? Or is there one, underlying force that seems to hold climbing together?
Climbing is a ‘physical meditation.’ Beginners, especially, cannot climb AND think about the bills that are due. They are present; they are in the moment, they are holding on for dear life. As you get more comfortable with climbing, you need to make it harder on yourself so that your focus is drawn to the task at hand. That might be upping the grade and doing a hard onsight, redpoint, going faster on a route you’ve done before, or ‘practicing for climbing.’ I think they call that bouldering, right?
So, to summarize, climbers all over the world love it, because it draws their focus to the present moment. They find a ‘problem’ in front of them, and they work on it and often ‘solve’ it.
HANS AND HONNOLD HOLD THE RECORD FOR SPEED CLIMBING THE NOSE
That’s certainly how it is for this girl. Can you tell me more about your all day clinic on May 18th at EVO?
I love climbing; the only thing better is MORE climbing. I love fitting more climbing in. That could be climbing during your gym session at lunchtime, in the evening, a one-week road trip to Rifle, or climbing big expanses of granite in a special valley I know in California. Whatever your deal, this clinic will specialize in fitting in multi-pitch climbing over a long day or days. We’ll train and learn—meaning you’ll be sore the following days—and you’ll have new info in your head to apply on your next adventure.
I’ve never ‘hard sold’ this clinic; I think the right people will be attracted to it. If someone is on the fence about its worth to them, they can contact me directly. I’m happy to talk them out of it, or into it. I’ll have a few gear items to give, and my books are included in the ‘price of admission.’
Is there anything you’d like me to touch upon that I haven’t asked?
I taught Justen Sjong everything he knows.