Nick Gerrard is a man of many talents and skills. He is one of the strongest climbers that I know and hands down the best off-the-couch climber I’ve ever seen. No joke. He’ll flash V9s after not having climbed in 3 weeks. In his time as a climber, he has competed against the likes of Mike Abell and Carlo Traversi, deep water soloed in Mallorca for 3 weeks, where he lived on the beaches and hung out with a cave-dwelling man named Cesar (who made him espresso in the mornings and called him brother). He does jiu-jitsu too. He’s done trad climbs in the Sierras. The Sheepherder [boulder problem] in the Buttermilks is one of his favorite problems ever. He climbs smart and is strategic in his approach. As a matter of fact, the genius and analytical side carries over to other areas of his life. Nick attended UC Santa Cruz where he received a degree in Molecular Biology. In addition, he’s the ultimate competitor when it comes to Halo and is a total nerd when it comes to Magic cards. Little known fact, Nick has even talked about quitting climbing and becoming a professional magic card player – but we’re glad he hasn’t done that yet!
Tell us a little bit about your new role.
I’m the assistant manager here at Planet Granite Sunnyvale. It’s pretty crazy to think of my history with the gym. I’ve gone through it all; climbing on the team, working event staff, setting routes, working the desk, teaching classes, coaching the team.
Sunnyvale also welcomes gym manager Eliot Carlson to the crew. You both seem to compliment each other really well. Has he taught you how to really crack climb yet?
Eliot and I have so far only bouldered together, but he knows who to give a call to when he’s looking for a rope gun. I have heard he has some skills (parental caution: link contains bad language). But in all seriousness, I’m looking forward to learning some tips.
We know you have been climbing for a while, but what’s the back-story?
An old friend of mine was on the Planet Granite youth team back in 2000. He talked me into climbing in a Cranberry Crank event, which was one of Planet Granite’s annual competitions. I crushed the novice category and was hooked ever since.
So, it’s known you’re a big Magic Card player. Care to explain that?
I’ve got Planet Granite Sunnyvale to thank for that. There is actually a pretty big Magic community here among not only the staff, but members as well. The first time I actually played was inside a tent in the Red Rocks campground.
What does your week usually look like during the typical climbing season and do you train?
As far as the climbing goes, I try and climb three days a week for about two or three hours a day. Some days I boulder, some days I’m clipping draws, but I usually never have a plan. I always say I’m going to start training, but I never do. I might hit up the campus board or hang board for a session every now and then, but months will go by before I’ll ever pay them another visit.
What has been your most memorable climbing trip? Have you made any international trips?
All trips are memorable. It’s hard to choose one. I spent a month in Spain last summer deep water soloing, but I have had just as much fun spending the day up in Castle Rock jumping from boulder to boulder. As long as I’m with good company, a climbing day is a day well spent regardless of how hard I send or what rock I’m pulling on.
How do balance working at a gym full time and climbing?
Balancing work and climbing is pretty easy. Climbing, in the gym at least, is great way to break up my day. It’s balancing everything else that can be a challenge.
What are some things climbing has taught you?
Climbing has taught me so much. Not only from the sport itself, but all the other experiences and relationships I’ve made within the community. The one thing I’ve learned that I value the most is the need to be happy over anything else. Climbing is a great way to separate myself from the needs and wants of society and to just enjoy life.
You have really mentored a fair amount of climbers, myself included. What do you think of as your role in that?
It’s crazy. Leaving the climbing team as a coach was the hardest part about taking on the assistant manager role, with teaching other classes being a close second. I’ve been lucky to have had the chance to learn what I have about the sport and it has definitely been a highlight to pay it forward.
Before taking on this new role, you were pretty much the most popular climbing coach. Although you try to sub for people when you can, do you miss coaching?
Coaching is awesome. It’s the kids that really make it so enjoyable. I definitely miss it. I’ve been trying to make it a habit to say hi and yell out beta whenever I know they’re training.
Are there any trips on the horizon?
No plans as of now except for the occasional valley trips, at least once the snow melts. Squamish would be pretty sweet to return to this summer. Hopefully next year I’ll travel overseas again but that’s too far to tell. The Grampians would be pretty awesome to visit.
You’re pretty good at smack talking, right?
I don’t smack talk. I motivate.
Thanks to Zach Shull for this interview! When not crushing on rock inside or out, Zach can be found pursuing the perfect wave, going for a casual trail run at the crack of dawn or long boarding down some insanely steep hill.