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Brad Larsen: Route Setter, Skateboarder

For Brad Larsen, Head Route Setter at BKB Somerville, what might be hobbies for some have instead developed into lifelong passions. Climbing and skateboarding have plenty in common. Both attract tight-knit communities, both attract passionate people and both involve a lot of falling. As Brad points out, they require an obsessive drive to overcome failure.

When and how did you start climbing?

Roughly five years ago one of my best friends (whom I met skateboarding) asked if I wanted to go rock climbing. We both had lost interest in skateboarding a few years prior. Eager to try something new I quickly accepted and we went to our local rock gym, ELITE Climbing in Maple Shade, NJ.

How did you get started skating?

I first fell in love with skateboarding in the 7th grade. I was 13 and and some of my friends had skateboards. I pestered my dad for weeks to buy me a skateboard, he finally caved in and I haven’t looked back.

What do you enjoy most about each sport?

Skateboarding shaped who I am. It was my first lifestyle hobby. I met my best friends through skateboarding. It even introduced me to most of my favorite bands.

Climbing on the other hand, is who I’ve actually become. It’s my hobby, my career, my life.

I think the two sports also complement each other well. Skateboarding keeps the legs strong and coordinated. Climbing balances out the upper body and core.


How did the two sports affect you growing up?

They relate in so many ways.

Skateboarding used to be an escape from school. I could just skate and forget about my day. It was just me and my skateboard.

Climbing later became my escape from work. I could just go to the rock gym, hang with some good people and relax. I’d completely forget about the day and start the next day with a fresh attitude.

When climbing became work, it was tough to find the same escape. But it attracts such a great community full of people with similar personality types. So naturally, I met some climbers that also skateboarded.

So I pestered myself for weeks to buy a new skateboard. I finally caved in and never looked back. It came around full circle and now skateboarding is the hobby that balances everything out for me.

In my opinion the two are just as similar as they are different. They require a certain personality type: compulsive and often obsessive.


They both provide an escape from the stresses of life. They both have led me to nomadic, couch surfing excursions across the country. The both have small tight knit communities.

You know, I’ve never really analyzed the two this way. They’re almost the same thing. After hours, days, weeks and months of trying, the trick is learned or the climb is sent. We celebrate briefly and move onto the next challenge. It’s a vicious circle of selfish challenges for nothing more than a pat on the back, a cold beer and the satisfaction of feeling victorious.

But it’s f***ing fun and we love it.

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