Tyson Mcgrew grew up surrounded by Brooklyn Boulders walls and returned as a Brooklyn Boulders team member and belay staff. An active member of the community, we ask Tyson what inspires him every time he comes back for a climb.
How long have you been climbing?
I’ve climbed for 2 ½ years.
When did you start?
I went to the White Mountain School, a boarding school in New Hampshire. They taught me how to climb there.
How did you find BKB?
My dad took me here once. There wasn’t anything else to do. I was probably twelve years old. I think it was when BKB first opened, but it was within the first year. My dad’s one of those people who’s really quick to find cool places.
What made you come back to BKB?
I came back three years later. When I first started learning how to climb. I didn’t start climbing here seriously until three years after that day. I started to learn how to climb in tenth grade.
Which climbers inspire you?
I watch Jimmy Webb climb a lot. I think it’s pretty cool. I climb with Ashima every once in awhile. It’s cool to climb around with her because… she rips. This girl is no joke.
What about them inspires you?
The perfect balance of balance and strength… it’s pretty cool to watch, I think. When every movement looks perfect it looks… enchanting. It makes me want to make things look that easy.
From Ashima, whenever she wants something, it kinda just happens. she doesn’t talk about it much, she doesn’t put much stress on it, it’s … a part of her day. It would have happened either way. That’s what I admire.
Do you want to climb professionally?
Yeah I want to be a climbing coach eventually. At some point. I want to go to a school like the white mountain school and be an English teacher and a climbing coach.
How as climbing affected other parts of your life?
Whenever I was in rough spots with my family, coming to this gym was all I did. I would come here and climb until the place closed, and then I’d go home because I knew everyone would be asleep. It’s been a safe haven of sorts. I didn’t plan on climbing hard.
What was the catalyst for climbing harder?
There was a bunch of climbs I wanted to do. When I see videos of people climbing things– especially in South Africa?– I think: I wanna do that. I wanna climb that stuff. Although it’s just a lot of burly moves, a lot of cool lookin’ burly moves. Yeah, a lot of strong climbing. There are climbs all over the world I wanna go and try, at least look at, visit. I wanna climb Sky pretty badly. Amandla; Jade’s a beautiful looking bolder. Roses and Bluejays.
Do you ever climb other things? Other than rocks?
I used to be into parkour for awhile.
Number one dream climb?
It has to be Jumbo Love: I just want to skip all those cliffs; I wanna get a good rush. It’s just a bunch of hard boulder problems stacked on top of each other. With pretty shitty rests in between. What else would be cool? Scarface.
Why should people climb?
You should climb because it’s awesome! because it’s f*cking cool. It’s rewarding. You get high without getting high, it’s kinda cool. I feel like everybody should climb something. Especially kids.
What are the most difficult skills to master when one is learning how to climb?
How to heel hook properly. A real heel hook. They’re not always easy to get. Most heel hooks in the gym are as difficult as the ones outdoors.
How do those skills apply to other areas of your life (if they do)? Or, how do you think learning to climb shaped your development?
Compartmentalizing my goals. Making a plan, breaking things into sections. when I finish a climb, I break it into parts– pre-crux and post-crux. If it seems like a lofty goal, where is it definitely gonna get harder?
How does climbing make you feel, besides hungry?
It makes me feel kind of strong. knowing that normal human beings don’t know how to do what I do. But then, compared to other climbers I’m no longer a super human. There’s Green Lantern and I’m like Superman, and I want to be the super-super human: master of all styles.
Your top three favorite climbers and why they’re so good?
John Gill: he originated the one form of climbing that I enjoy. He’s the grandfather of bouldering. His idea that gymnastic movement is a core concept of bouldering– i feel like a lot of people are forgetting that now. It’s a calculated skill.
Jimmy Webb: he’s a powerhouse. His contact strength is amazing.
Akiyo Noguchi: sickest style of all climbers. I feel like she thinks more than most climbers. A lot of people who are strong don’t think, and a lot of people who think aren’t very strong.