Kareemah Batts, a BKB climber, cancer survivor, amputee, and founder of Adaptive Climbing Group (ACG), chats with Kevin Jorgeson and others about her story.
Brooklyn Boulders and American Alpine Club are teaming up to bring you Camp BKB(x), a nationwide event that blends indoor climbing with the great outdoors.
Ever wonder what goes on in the minds of our kid crushers? We asked the members of the BKB Queensbridge team about their introduction to climbing, their tips for beginners, and their methods for beating nerves before competitions.
Want to see our kids’ training in action? Come check them out during our USA Climbing Youth Local competition at Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge on March 17. You can also compete yourself during the adult Spring Crush comp that evening.
Livy Malko, 12 years old.
When did you first start climbing?
I started climbing when I was eight or nine.
What got you interested in rock climbing?
I went to a [rock climbing] birthday party and after I took some classes. I joined a team, and then I did competitions.
What is it about rock climbing that you like or enjoy?
I like that it’s not just one thing that you’re doing over and over again like kicking a ball. There are different moves every time and it’s really fun.
How often do you train as a competitive climber?
Three times a week, sometimes more, occasionally less.
What motivates you to train or climb hard?
My competitors and my mentors.
Who would you say is your biggest role model?
Do you ever get nervous during competitions? What are some strategies you have to make yourself less nervous?
I get really nervous. I usually take a few deep breaths and try to calm myself down and I try not think about it too much.
If you could give any tip for a new climber, what would it be?
You’re supposed to fall.
Will Moss, 13 years old.
How long have you been climbing?
I’ve been climbing for about three years.
What got you interested in rock climbing?
I’m not sure. I just went to a climbing gym one day and I really liked it.
What do you think is the hardest thing about climbing?
I guess when there’s a hard climb and you really want to get it. You just keep falling, and you’re so close.
There are a lot of good coaches and other people you can project climbs with.
What motivates you to try really hard?
I just like climbing a lot and I have fun so I try hard. Because I want to send it.
What is your favorite style of climbing?
Upside down. Like in the Cave.
Do you have any tips for beginner climbers?
Think about the long run and don’t climb too much. I hurt my shoulder climbing too much. Don’t climb so much that you’ll injure yourself.
Do you have a climbing role model?
Yeah, Chris Sharma. He started climbing when he was 12 years old. Then he went into sport climbing, and now he’s a gym owner, which I want to do. Basically, I want to do everything he did.
Matthew Fisher, 14 years old.
At what age did you start climbing?
When I was about 12.
What got you interested in climbing?
My brother, Will, did a summer camp at BKB Gowanus. Then I went along with him once a week. Then someone asked me to join the team. I got really psyched on climbing.
What is your favorite thing about climbing?
It’s never the same. You can always be working on different things; there’s different types of walls and different types of holds, and so many different styles.
If you had to pick a favorite type of climbing what would it be?
I like powerful stuff with big moves because it kind of feels like I’m flying. I like to jump to things. It feels really good when you jump and you don’t think you’re going to catch something but then you do. It makes me feel really strong.
What’s your favorite part about being on the team?
All the people that try to help me and support me. When I’m not motivated they try to get me psyched.
What motivates you to try really hard?
Just like thinking about climbing and watching other people succeed makes me want to be better and try harder.
What are your strategies to fight nerves during competitions?
I just try to breathe deeply and imagine myself finishing the climb. I always end up putting a lot of chalk on.
Do you have any tips for new climbers?
Just … have fun, I guess!
Jordan Wesolek, one of our Team Members at BKB Chicago, has been pursing a life of art, design, and travel. You may be familiar with his prominent piece in the retail space at BKB Chicago or his custom-made posters and postcards. We sat down with Jordan to learn a little more about the thinking behind his work and what he’s been up to. Our latest artist collaboration product — this army green tweed wool 5-panel hat — is now available at all BKB locations. Make sure to snag one before they’re all gone. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good!
How did you get into art and design?
It’s in my blood, my mother is an artist (check out http://www.facebook.com/lilshirl for some dope hand drawn greeting cards). I grew up drawing and creating. You know, hand turkeys, macaroni designs, popsicle stick fortresses. However, drawing took the forefront. Space and dinosaurs were, and still are, my thing but I don’t draw those as much as I used too. Now it’s about bringing a dreamy sunset or mountscape to people. I try to create a feeling of solitude that brings introspection. Everyone can always do more work on themselves.
How and why did you choose this style of art?
I chose stippling because of the process and patience it can take. It’s crazy boring sometimes and I get really distracted, making thousands of dots isn’t always the most fun thing to do. It is really rewarding when the piece comes together though.
What drives you to design and create art?
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world for extended periods of time and through those adventures I snag some inspiration. The Patagonian Andes of Chile and Argentina as well as the volcanoes and waterfalls of Iceland have been the source of drive lately. Recently, I got back from a month long stay in Reykjavik where the focus was gigging and drawing; I am still drawing from that high.
It looks like your personal art collided with your professional life at BKB. What was that like?
It’s been rad! So many opportunities as an artist have presented themselves by me simply asking to do stuff. Painting murals in the lobby and collaborating with coworkers to provide some music for yoga classes have been the overlap, it’s so fun!
What’s your long term goal as an artist?
Connecting with people and have it take me to new places would be pretty cool. I really would like to support myself as an artist, working remotely as some sort of designer would be the dream. Being nomadic, you know. I’d love to chill in Bavaria for a bit, then head back down in Patagonia with porters, maybe kick it with some sherpas in Nepal all the while drawing mountains and campsites while learning to tattoo people for a living.
Do you have any advice for emerging artist?
Just ask people to do the things you want to do, and do it face to face if possible. Be relentless in the pursuit of your goals, no one is going to give you want. Help others when you can and collaborate when opportunities come about.
You’re a climber and an artist. Do you see any parallels? And if so, what are they?
Patience, for sure. Improving takes time and practice. Growing pains as and artist and climber are best buds, trying new techniques and refining the ones you have is a constant throughout both lifestyles.
Who inspires you?
I could drone on and on in response to this question, but I’ll try to keep it short. Anyone who is doing what they want to do. The people that aren’t afraid to go against what is the expected, they do what they believe in (not talking about violence or harm to another, just an FYI). I am speaking in terms of those who quit the job they hate, travel the world until they run out of money, chose a path of uncertainty because it’s exciting, or work the 9-5 they love. I dig the carefree people that do what they want without letting lack of security change their mind. That’s inspiring, people living exactly how they want too.
How can people learn more about you?
Thank you to Sarah and Kris for hooking me up with some retail opportunities. Podz, for having my back on all my projects and travels. Claire and David, for making Flow to the Beat a thing. Abo and Luo, for being dope musicians and helping create the atmosphere for Flow To The Beat. My boy, Erik, for hardstyling with me in hot dog costumes every chance we get. Bee Paper Company (check them out!) for providing me with free sketchbooks. And everyone who has been supportive of the things I’ve done, whether it’s prints you’ve purchased, yoga classes attended, or high fives for reasons I don’t know – thank you!!!
Interested in doing an artist collaboration with BKB? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
When rope climbing, your most crucial relationship is the one you have with your belay partner. Trust and communication are crucial. Your wellbeing is quite literally in the other person’s hands, and if you’re lead climbing, there’s a likely possibility that one person’s butt will end up in the other’s face.
Once you find a good belay partner and establish a “belaytionship,” it makes all the difference in your climbing. Finding a good belay partner doesn’t mean that you can’t climb with other people, but it’s nice to have someone dependable that you enjoy and trust. As you make plans with your significant other, with friends, or even with Netflix this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget about the person on the other end of your rope. Here are some ways to show your belaytionship love and appreciation.
- Always, always, always check your partner.
This isn’t really a Valentine’s appreciation suggestion as much as a good practice. Regardless of whether it’s your first time or five hundredth time climbing, if you want to be a good climbing partner, always double check knots and gear before you head up the wall or crag. It’s way too easy to settle into a comfortable pattern and assume that your partner did everything right before hopping on a climb, but nothing will ruin your belaytionship faster than a preventable injury.
- Treat your belay partner with a gear gift.
Don’t overthink it. A small gift of appreciation goes a long way. Does your partner always borrow your ATC or chalk bag? Gifting gear to your friend will decrease wear on your own gear AND remind them of you each time they use it.
- Do something other than climb with them.
If you spend several hours a week climbing with your belay partner, hopefully you enjoy spending time with them. Show your appreciation for them as a person as well as a climber by making plans outside of the facility. You can grab post-climb drinks or go to a yoga class that can help you train for #sends.
Whether your belaytionship is with your best friend, some guy from work, or even your significant other, make sure you give them a shoutout and help them feel appreciated Valentine’s Day and everyday.
Words: Anne Cruz, Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge
Edits: Jen Werner, Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge