Touchstone Athletes

Ethan Pringle

Born and raised in the Mission district of San Francisco, I was introduced to the wonders of nature before I could walk. My parents ­­ semi professional windsurfers and outdoor enthusiasts ­­ brought me everywhere. As an infant, I was in a backpack on hikes in the mountains and on the back of my mom’s bicycle on coastal rides. They took me on their adventure trips in the Sierras, on the wild California coast, and abroad. By the time I was five I’d been to Canada, Mexico, Australia and several Caribbean islands, places that most people don’t get to visit in their entire lives. Lucky me! My parents taught me to ski at age three. At six, I taught myself to snowboard on an oversize board and Sorrels – back then the sport was so new that child­ sized equipment was unavailable. I became fond of being high off the ground, flying through the air over table ­top jumps in Tahoe freestyle parks and even entered a few competitions in the ‘grommet’ division. At seven, I fell in love with Roller hockey. I played center on a championship team and was a complete ‘rink rat’, spending every minute I could on my skates.

Then I discovered climbing. I first set foot in Mission Cliffs at age eight. Mission cliffs was and still is one of the premier climbing gyms in the country and happens to be only Four blocks from my home. We stopped in there out of curiosity on my way home from hockey practice one day and I was instantly hooked. To me climbing made perfect sense, and was the perfect outlet to channel my hyper energy after school. I got my first pair of climbing shoes (5.10 Diamonds ­­ woman’s shoes), and a harness (Petzl Hirundos­ pink). Soon afterward, climbing eclipsed everything else and Mission Cliffs became my second home. I still snowboarded in the winter, but my hockey skates got dusty and were forgotten.

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At the gym I met some amazing people who had a profound effect on me and I was very lucky to meet climbers willing to take a snotty but enthusiastic little kid on outdoor climbing trips to places like Pinnacles, Mickey’s Beach, Bishop, Owens River Gorge, Red Rocks, and Mt. Charleston. Those people I am forever indebted to. Since climbing is still such a small community, as a youngster I had the opportunity to climb and become friends with people who inspired me­ people who I read about in magazines­ and were my heroes at one time like François Le Grand, Jason Campbell, Liv Sansoz and Chris Sharma to name just a few. One spring when I was just 13, I had the opportunity to fly to Bend, Oregon, and stay and climb with the legendary Scott Franklin who gave me my first clothing sponsor.

At twelve I began to compete. The junior climbing circuit was a terrific way for young climbers to improve their climbing and meet other kids who share their passion. From hockey and snowboarding I’d already become used to competition, and felt reasonably comfortable performing under pressure in front of an audience. I was the undefeated junior national and international champion four years in a row, from ’98­01, before I moved on to adult comps. Since then I have been on the U.S. climbing team every year, placing top three in almost every comp I’ve entered, and winning a few national and international level competitions.

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During school breaks I traveled all over the US to climb in comps and go to some amazing crags. I red­pointed my first 5.13 at age twelve, and my first 5.14 at age thirteen (which was subsequently down ­graded to 5.13d.) The summer after I turned 14, I traveled to Europe and climbed at the iconic cliff Ceuse for the first time. In Amsterdam I competed in my first junior world championship and placed second. (A disappointment ­­ I was in first going into the finals and expected to win, but in a momentary lapse in concentration I missed a key hold and fell one hold below the winner.) Since age 14 I have revisited Ceuse 6 times, spending a total of almost 6 months there, and it remains to this day my favorite climbing area in the world.

During trips to Squamish and Bishop, I fell in love with bouldering. I moved to Las Vegas for my senior year of high school. I established three of Red Rocks’ hardest and highest boulders during that year. My dedication for climbing fluctuated a bit through high school, but since I graduated I have dedicated myself anew to the sport. It now has taken over my life and become my true passion. These days I live, breath, and am obsessed with climbing. In the last few years I have taken my climbing to ever­ higher levels in the disciplines of sport climbing and bouldering. I have fulfilled many long ­term goals of mine: tie or beat Sharma in a comp (not really), climb V14 and on­sight 5.14. Since my first visit to Ceuse I dreamed of one day climbing the enigmatic Realization. In 2007 after just a month of effort, that dream became a reality. In the past couple years I have focused my attention more on first ascents­ in December 2010 I made the FA of China’s hardest sport climb in Yangshuo­ The Spicy Dumpling, given a rating of 5.14d. In August 2012, Mike Libecki and I made the first ascent of a 3000 long big wall in Greenland we named Built Fjord Tough. It was a transformative experience and has inspired me to pursue more adventurous forms of climbing in the future.

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My goals are to stand on top of the podium at a world cup climbing competition, Climb America’s hardest sport route Jumbo Love (5.15b), free climb the iconic Yosemite formation El Capitan, and keep traveling to new and exciting places around the world to climb the most stunning rocks.

 Steven Roth 

Steven at Mickeys

Steven ENC

Steven on Rise

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