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On January 2, 2011, I began my life as a climber at Planet Granite San Francisco and since then, I have had a large passion for climbing. It began with climbing three days a week then to four to six days a week, and from there, climbing became an obsession.
I wasn’t a prodigy or a pro, only a novice, but the passion that grew inside me pushed me to keep trying harder grades, eventually leading me to climbing outdoors within the first couple months of putting on my first set of rock climbing shoes. Within the first year of climbing, I ended up climbing all over the Bay Area, including Castle Rock and Indian Rock, as well as in Yosemite, Bishop, San Diego, and Malibu. I felt that California was and still is an amazing place for climbing, but I wanted to broaden my horizons and learn more and more about this sport as well as improve my technique and feeling the different kinds of rock between my fingers.
And so this is where my journey began.
Along with climbing, I have another obsession with traveling. When November 2011 came, I decided to put the two things together I was most obsessed about, climbing and traveling, and decided to turn this obsession into a life changing experience. I packed my bags and said bye to all my friends in PGSF and in California and decided to travel the world while having the mission to climb wherever and whenever my heart desired. I wanted to climb on different rock, I wanted to meet the different kinds of climbers, I wanted to experience the cultures, and I wanted to experience this world doing the things I loved to do. And this is when my dreams became reality.
I started off slow but with a bang. I started first in Bishop, where I was projecting V5’s and V6’s while climbing with one of the most elite climbers in the world, Alex Honnold. Of course, I do not hold his elite status, but watching him climb made the time worthwhile.
Following my run-in with Honnold, I moved my way to Los Angeles, where my flight was going to take off, but a few days before leaving the country, I had another chance to climb with, in my opinion, the best woman climber in the world, Sasha DiGiulian.
We met at a rock climbing shop where she premiered her video of her climbing Pure Imagination in Costa Mesa, CA. I didn’t want her autograph but I did muster up the courage to ask her if she wanted to go climbing, in which she obliged and two days later we climbed in Malibu.
After my run-ins with both climbers, I began my trip around the world, visiting over thirty countries, climbing in eight of them: Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, India, Nepal, and Turkey.
I was asked to set routes in the Philippines, a project unfinished, and climbed with people from all over the world. People from Dubai, Germany, Spain, France, America, and so forth. Some of the weirdest, nicest, most unique individuals I have met made our time on and off the rock memorable in many ways.
And no climbing trip to Southeast Asia is complete without climbing at the most infamous spot, Tonsai, Krabi, Thailand, the climbing capital of the world. The majority, if not all the people in Tonsai, are climbers and everyone spends almost their whole day climbing on the surrounding limestone cliffs. I even ran into PG climbers while I spent several weeks there! I even helped a friend finish his project of setting the first BASE jump off Tiger Wall.
Other than climbing in Thailand, there is climbing in Laos, in Vang Vien and Thakek, as well as in Vietnam, in Cat Ba off the northern coast. I tried my luck at deep water soloing here as well and took a big fall from 20 meters. I was fine, but would never try a jump from that high again. It hurt.
As my travels were moving west, I found myself in India and Nepal, where I had the chance to meet the Indian Rock Climbing Team as well as one of eleven of the French Alpinist team. These men were amazing climbers and very hospitable and generous. I climbed in Manali with the rock climbing team where they took us to boulders and lead walls which ranged from very easy to very hard routes. A friend and I also decided to take a trip together through Shimla and to Leh to climb in not so known areas of India and got to experience the beautiful scenery around the Himalayas.
Eventually, I had to leave India, and decided to move on to Nepal. When I got to Nepal, I had to put away my rock climbing shoes, but put on my mountaineering shoes, where I trekked up the Annapurna Circuit, which goes around the Annapurna mountain range, and had the opportunity to see Mt. Everest, climbing up to Everest Base Camp.
As I finished traveling, through Asia, I went through Africa and then up to Turkey where I finished my last climb of my trip.
Over these last two years, I have met a lot of amazing people, climbers and non-climbers, and even inspired others to climb, teaching a few people who have never climbed before along the way, and see the world.
Climbing has opened my eyes to many opportunities and gave me many experiences I will never forget and will cherish for a lifetime. I am happy I broke the void of mundane life and I am glad that climbing was a part of breaking that void.
P.S. The only piece of clothing that has survived throughout the last two years was my PG sweatshirt. Hah.
A little note about Bryan: There were a few things I missed from these last two years and that was the craziness of San Francisco and the option to climb on a regular basis, but most of all I missed my friends. Ironic thing is I opened a fortune cookie and it said “Friends long absent are coming back to you” although I think I’m going back to them. So I can’t wait to climb again in my home climbing gym with the people that helped me get to where I am today.
On the 5.7 by Evan
On a cold December morning I watched as the most inspirational climber I know fought his way to the top of yet another climb that seemed impossible only a few weeks before. Tim cruised through the lower section more smoothly than he ever had before, reaching the top of the route, and its previously insurmountable moves, with more energy than either of us had dreamed possible. Just below those crux high steps, Tim rested, chalking up and gathering his resources for the final push into the unknown. Finally, in a sequence of movement that seemed both sudden and prolonged, Tim completed one new move after another and finally found himself at the top of the route.
I have watched climbers send hard routes and boulders, overcome mental challenges, and demonstrate physical strength so far beyond me that it seems superhuman, but none of them ever inspired me more than watching Tim Miller get to the top of that yellow 5.7. You see, Tim has Cerebral Palsy with Spastic Diplegia; basically his brain has a hard time communicating with the muscles in his legs. His nerves are always telling his leg muscles to contract whether he wants them to or not, and when he was 5 years old his doctors told him he would never be able to walk on his own.
Over the past 6 months, I have discovered the same thing Tim’s doctors did back when he was only a boy. Tim has a relentless drive and determination to achieve his goals, and by the age of 8 he was able to walk. Unfortunately, at such a young age, Tim did not have another goal to pursue that would drive him to improve his ability to use his legs. For many years Tim set his sights on other physical activities like alpine mono skiing and skydiving, and his ability to walk and use his legs remained pretty much the same. His abs and back muscles were weak, and while he worked on his glutes, calves and quads with a personal trainer, many things about balance and leg control remained a mystery.
A few years ago, Tim found a new goal, kite boarding. But kite boarding is a full body challenge and Tim discovered that his legs were not up to the task of maintaining balance while holding a kite even while only standing on the beach. This new challenge kicked Tim’s determination back into high gear and he began to search for ways to improve his body. Improvement was progressing slowly until a chance outing introduced Tim to the sport of rock climbing.
In the fall of 2011, Tim walked through the doors of Planet Granite in Sunnyvale, CA and into a realm of possibility he had never imagined. From the first, rock climbing stretched the limits of what Tim was able to do with his legs and core muscles. He discovered a multitude of new things that his body could do, and with each visit he noticed improvement in the way he walked and maintained balance. Climbing requires many of the under-used muscle groups of Tim’s lower body to work both separately and in unison, often in ways that are entirely new to him.
In the 15 months since Tim first came to Planet Granite, he has been able to see changes and improvements to his body that he never dreamed possible. Now, among other things, he can comfortably walk down the aisle of an airplane, maintaining balance and stability with his feet much closer together than was ever before possible. His goal of being able to stand up on a kiteboard seems closer than ever. However, despite Tim’s vast reserves of will and desire, he was not able to accomplish all of this on his own.
Planet Granite is more than just a place to climb or exercise, it is a community as well, and that community has played an essential role in Tim’s physical transformation. From the first, Tim felt accepted and welcomed to the community as “just another climber.” His presence is never questioned, and every climber sees a reflection of his own struggles and triumphs in Tim’s progress on a route. However, there is one person Tim singles out as having had the most impact on him as a climber. When he was looking for a private climbing instructor, everyone on the PG Staff said “you have to talk to Monica!” Monica had previous experience working with people who have disabilities and she provided Tim with invaluable perspectives as he began to learn more about how his body works and moves. Monica inspired Tim and introduced him to new concepts like motor planning. She helped Tim to understand what sort of developmental phases he had missed and how much he had left to work towards.
Tim has made great strides in improving the strength and function of his body, and along the way he has become a better climber too. These achievements came through a synthesis of Tim’s own strength of body and will, the intricate and challenging nature of climbing, and the special knowledge and spirit of one of the many exceptional staff members working at Planet Granite. Tim’s kiteboarding goal is closer than ever, but climbing has played a huge role in getting him this close and he says simply, “I’m a climber now.”
Evan Pearce is one of the advanced instructors at Planet Granite in Sunnyvale and has been working with Tim Miller for 6 months.
Many of you know PG Coach Stacey Collver – 9 years ago, Stacey was diagnosed with a rare lung disease and received a double-lung transplant one year later. Although she has recovered well from the double-lung transplant, with approximately 54% lung function and 1/3 the immune system, she is still legally disabled, needs financial assistance to cover huge monthly medical costs and is unable to work full time.
Every year, Planet Granite Sunnyvale hosts a fundraiser to help support her – and Stacey never disappoints with her amazing events. During the Mt. Everest Climb-A-Thon, the goal is to climb the equivalent feet of Mt Everest in just 3 hours. Climbers come prepped and ready, healthy snacks are provided and this year, Stacey received a ton of amazing donations from sponsors to create a fun, silent auction.
Thank you to everyone who made this the best Climb-A-Thon yet! With over $6,000 raised that day, 33 participants climbed a total of 48, 075 feet in just 3 hours!
Meet PG Sunnyvale Member, Tony! Back in January, his company started a weight loss competition. Not to be outdone and knowing he could use to lose some pounds, Tony took this challenge to heart. He won by over 19 lbs, losing 33 lbs in just 3 months! How’d he do it? By taking Zeus’ Abs n Core class and Total Body Fitness class at PG Sunnyvale (ok and maybe some running and healthy eating added to it…. ;P) Currently, Tony works out at PG between 5-8 times per week, coming for his lunch break and returning in the evening for fitness or climbing work outs. After 8 months, he’s down 55 lbs and couldn’t be happier. Check out what Tony had to say about his amazing achievement, and what keeps him motivated.
I attached three pics of my work out progress. I started my fitness journey on January 16th when my work started a weight loss competition, I was overweight and needed to make a change and the contest lit a fire in me to change my ways. It went three months and during that time I lost 33 lbs eating healthy and exercising; I won the contest by 19 lbs! :) The last picture was taken August 29th, and I am now down 55 lbs. All of that was done by changing my diet and attending Zeus’ classes at PG Sunnyvale every week, in addition to running.
I first started with Zeus’ Abs & Core class, and loved it. Then after about a month of two of that class combined with running, I started taking the Total Body Fitness class on Tuesdays. I slowly worked my way up to running about 10 miles per week and taking the two classes. Eventually, I started doing the exercises he taught me from the TBF class and the Abs and Core class on Fridays on my own. His classes + running + changed diet = fast results that I could not be more happy about!!! In the beginning of August, I changed up my routine and now I am lifting weights to build some muscle. I appreciate everything Zeus has taught me in the classes.
And what kept Tony motivated? The changes I started seeing in myself. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing your results and that is what kept me going. I was determined to win the money at my work and beat out the other 14 people competing in the weight loss competition. That is probably what motivated me at first, but it was the results I started and continue to see that keep me going
Thanks Tony! Your story is such an amazing inspiration!! If you or a friend have an inspiring story you’d like to share, please send it to Stephanie! If your story is published, we’ll give you a PG Tshirt!