Staff Profile: Ashley Hockersmith

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Dogpatch Boulders is offering a new clinic series on increasing endurance through bouldering. Veteran instructor Ashley Hockersmith is teaching this new clinic, which starts on Sunday, Nov. 23rd and will meet on the two following Sundays. We decided to have a chat with Ashley to learn a little bit about how Ashley found climbing and what it has meant to her. Enjoy!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started climbing.

Ashley H: I started climbing about 9 yrs ago, when I started working at a sporting goods store. One of my coworkers, who soon became a really good friend of mine, was really passionate about climbing. After months of pestering her about climbing, she finally caved, and put me on my first climb (which was a sport 5.6) at the local crag, Mt Williamson. It took me at least an hour to get to the top, and I definitely freaked out more then once, but by the end of it I was totally hooked. Being in Southern California, we had ample opportunity to take days trips to climb on real rock. I climbed my first slab, and traversed my first boulder in J-tree, and learned anchors and rope management in Malibu. We had a local gym in Arcadia called the ARC, and while it was kinda dark and pretty dirty, it was an enjoyable space to gain some strength and pass the time.

T: Describe some of your most enjoyable/meaningful experiences you’ve had because of climbing.

AH: My favorite thing about climbing has always been its ability to take me to new and beautiful spaces, and to meet really fantastic people. When I am in the gym, I am pretty focused on movement and numbers, but when I am outside, I don’t care how many climbs I get in; I more enjoy just being in the natural environment, and getting to fully experience that space. In the Fall of 2012, I had the opportunity to spend a week at Castle Hill in New Zealand. Castle Hill is a place with infinitely rolling hills of green and gold grasses, that is littered with hundreds upon hundreds of perfectly smooth (yet textured) silver limestone boulders. I climbed 6 of the 7 days that I was there, and while I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of climbing, I spent a good half of my time, nestled in between the rock, just breathing and enjoying the quiet and landscape.

T: How did you learn your good technique?

AH: I was really fortunate that my friend who got me into climbing was also a stickler for proper technique and communication. During that first day, when we were driving to Williamson, she made me repeat the On-Belay/Belay-On call and response etiquette for at least 30 unbroken minutes. She was always very aware of the risks associated with climbing as well as the consequences of poor technique/Belaying. She wanted to make sure I was aware of the seriousness of my role as her climbing partner. So because of this, I always want to make sure I am passing on good technique, and well as responsible climbing habits, to the people I teach and climb with. I am a stickler when it comes to belaying; if someone is being unsafe, I refuse to climb with them. I feel similarly when it comes to “spotting”.

T: Explain why bouldering is such a great medium for training endurance.

AH: I think Bouldering is a great way to train endurance for a number of reasons. First, the climber doesn’t have to sacrifice their strength in order to focus on extending stamina. The power aspect of bouldering can be directly incorporated into the focus on increased stamina. Second, by training on boulders instead of ropes, the climber can focus on a particular style, or type of movement that goes beyond the wall shape. Lastly, the climber can train on their own schedule, since bouldering doesn’t require a partner. I would still encouraging working with another person, as a tool to push your climbing, but the flexibility of not needing a partner is a great asset.

Quick Fire questions… Favorite spot to rope outside?

AH: New River Gorge

T: Favorite place to boulder outside?

A: Yosemite

T: Favorite wall at Dogpatch Boulders?

AH: Back Slab top-out (Green Monster)

T: Best Food near DogPatch?

AH: Long Bridge Pizza

T: Tell us something about yourself we’d never know from seeing you around the gym.

AH: I consistently want ice cream at 11pm at night.

T: We’d never have guessed… Thanks Ashley!
Ready to increase your endurance through bouldering? You’d better jump on it! Spots are going fast for this three week clinic.