Category Archives: Climbing Gyms

Be a Climber: Quitting (and re-creating) Your Day Job

The juxtaposition of my life does not go unnoticed by my closest friends and family. On one hand I love order, control, routine. Type A personality stuff. On the other hand, the well-defined and fully explored bores me to death and I crave adventure, the unknown, something new and ever-changing where the outcome is uncertain.

While those seem to be at great odds with each other, they come together in perfect harmony for me in the form of calculated risk. It’s the best of both worlds really. Let me give you a few examples. Before children, I free soloed and did X-rated routes up to 5.12. I can’t actually think of a single case when the route wasn’t an onsight. It had adventure, the terrain was unknown (to me) and the route was new (again, to me). But anyone who has done much of that kind of climbing also knows if it’s too adventurous, too unknown, and the outcome is too uncertain, well then, you can’t do it for very long and live to tell about it. Free soloing for me was equally about control and order. I was intimately familiar with the rock type and the climbing area. I felt, tested, and retested every hold before committing. I never climbed up something I couldn’t climb down. In fact I’ve backed off 5.7s as many times as I’ve backed off 5.11s. Yes there was risk. Yes I could have fallen. But those odds were slim. They were calculated risks.

Here’s another example. I received my Master’s degree in Special Education and found a knack for working with students with emotional disabilities in impoverished neighborhoods (the “ghetto” to you layman folk). Real-deal gangbangers with rap sheets and weapons charges that were known for violence. Most had given up on them so in turn, these types of students were quick to dismiss others (often violently). Calculated risk. I had the educational training – the strategies to diffuse the situation. I also have the personality to relate to them on their level, gain their trust, and push them toward a more positive direction. But it’s not without challenges and sometimes real dangers. I’ve had students get extremely angry – try to punch me, throw chairs at me, and worse. But I had the tools and mindset to get out of those situations (mostly) unscathed. The flip side is that teaching in a public school offers security and routine on some levels, yet every day was different. What worked with a kid yesterday won’t work with that same kid tomorrow. You must always adapt, constantly learn and improve. It kept me on my toes and was a good balance for me for a long time.

Fast forward and here I am, smack-dab in the middle of my thirties. I crave a change – a massive life shake up. Perhaps just ahead of the curve on a mid-life crisis. My mom always said I was advanced for my age. Anyway, teaching has given me so much and I hope that in return I have given something back to the kids I’ve worked with over the last 12 years. But it is too routine now, too “safe”, too familiar. My adult obligation of financial security I owe my family pulls me in one direction while the desire to take a risk and choose a new career path pulls me in another. I could not find balance between the two.

But I’m not a risk taker. While what I wrote above would seem to contradict that to some – what I mean is I’m not an “unknown outcome” kind of risk taker. Imagine this scenario for a minute: You flip a coin. Heads I win a dollar, tails you win a dollar. I do not see it as a 50/50 chance of winning a dollar. I see it as me losing a dollar. The odds are too unfavorable – there is too much risk. I would never agree to flip the coin. The risk must be low. I’ve built too much of a life to gamble any of it. Yet to some degree, there needs to be a little risk to entice me. Where is the balance? It’s different for each of us and it’s taken me a long time to finally find it.

I’ve been a rock climber for more years of my life than not. I’ve worked in gear shops, climbing gyms, for gear manufacturers, and even own a climbing publishing company called Fixed Pin. I have no formal education in “climbing business” but I know it better than anything else, perhaps better than I even know teaching. Climbing is my religion. I’m not a zealot but it is how I decompress, how I commune with nature, and how I rebalance myself. When I’m out of whack, my wife tells me to go climbing and I come home happier, more patient, and a better life partner and father overall. Some drink, some pray. I climb. Climbing is all I want to be around. I want to talk about it, write about it, and well, just do it. Enter Gravity One Climbing + Fitness.

I had always thought starting a climbing gym would be incredible but it seemed a bit too unrealistic for me. They cost millions of dollars to start up after all. But I have found that, perhaps through happenstance, I have been building up to this moment my entire adult life. I have the right experience (work and personal), the right connections, the right motivation, and the right amount of risk tolerance to venture off into the unknown – quit my government job as a public-school teacher that I virtually could never be fired or downsized from and start my own business where I am my own boss. All decisions directly affect me, good and bad. I could win big or I could lose it all. But it’s calculated. And isn’t that what being a climber means? Taking calculated risks. Isn’t that the lesson we all experience every time we go out to the crags? We leave the safety of the ground, where yes, we could fall back down to it. But we have ropes and protection and a trusted belayer to catch us. Things could go wrong – a piece could pull, a clip could be botched, a belayer could give too much slack. But rarely do we experience any of those things. We fall but only a little bit. We take comfort in both the risk itself as well as knowing that those risks have been greatly mitigated. Our partner has us. Our rope and gear will catch us. We push ourselves sometimes to places that are uncomfortable but we revel in that feeling once back on the ground, sometimes hours, days, or even weeks later. We retell those events over beers and around campfires trying to recapture that feeling. To me, that’s what it means to be a climber. Leave yourself exposed just enough to feel uncomfortable but not be in danger. I just feel so fortunate that I’ve finally learned how to carry that over into my professional life and to be able to experience a feeling of balance of calculated risk outside of climbing itself.

The Bubble

Hello, this is Janelle…Mike’s wife. Since someone is off to Germany enjoying his 12 hour long flight, I thought I would seize the moment and post on his beloved blog without permission. HA!


You know your husband is a little INSANE when he turns the basement into a movie set straight out of the ET!


Keep in mind; the word “insane” is used quite loosely by one very understanding, supportive, kick ass wife! Many things over the past 15 years have been labeled “ insane” a little prematurely and this is no exception.

I digress…

After moving from high, humidity Florida to dry, arid Colorado; we thought we were in the clear for hangboard workouts. We were going to have crisp, dry mountain air and every workout would be just perfect, right?! Well, our basement proved to be a wonderful little humidity hoarder during the monsoon summer experienced here in Colorado Springs. After our first hangboard workouts, it was quickly apparent that we needed to do something about it. It was at this point that Mike revealed to me one of his long-held fantasies (ooh, still some excitement after almost 12 years of marriage)! Apparently, ever since we moved to Dayton, OH back in 2008, Mike has suppressed urges to create a hermetically sealed hangboarding bubble in which climate could be easily and precisely controlled. Well, apparently, Colorado’s humid air was the “last straw,” and Mike had snapped. Clearly he had put some thought into this, because once the decision was made, there was no pause for planning or analysis, just a fury of activity.

Had the man lost his mind???


A view of the The Bubble

Mike stopped in at Home Depot and picked up six 8-foot 1×2’s, plastic sheeting, and one heck of a cool zipper kit (both available in the paint department).  You will also need duct tape and a staple gun with staples (if you’re following along at home).


These are awesome and very easy to install. We may use the other one to make a two zipper door.


Lots of plastic!

The general plan was to block off a section of the basement and fully encase it in plastic. Here are a few things required for this whole operation to work: The bubble needs to include a window so you can run A/C.
– Needs electricity
– Large enough for the HB equipment
– Needs to be more-or less sealed
Had the man lost his mind???
I reluctantly offered up some assistance which was not turned down. We lined the ceiling with plastic first because of the open floor joists (which would have let air in) then draped walls of plastic to corner off the new hangboard bubble.


We used plastic to cover these ceiling joists to prevent air from escaping.

With an unfinished basement, the bubble went up quickly. We used staples to tack up the plastic and then reinforced and locked the seams with duct tape. We did have to use some 2X4’s/2×6’s on the ground to tuck and hold the plastic on the floor, some 1×2’s to reinforce the ceiling connections (duct tape helped but was not cutting it) and the zipper door was an added bonus.
About half way into this project, I began to realize that this just might work. Maybe my “insane” husband isn’t so crazy and I should help out with a little more enthusiasm. If it did work, my hangboard workouts would definitely benefit too!
Soon, we had the air conditioner blasting to test the bubble theory out. Besides some strong suction everything held into place except for the temperature and humidly which kept dropping — RAPIDLY. We were amazed at how quickly we were able to regulate temperature compared to our old HB room in Florida which was a bedroom approximately 11’ x 11’. Cracking the window eliminated the suction (which Mike surmises comes from a leaky A/C unit) and ta da! We had ourselves a climate controlled hangboarding bubble room! I was pretty impressed.


Looking up at this corner, you can see where we stated hanging the plastic wall after covering the ceiling joists. We used staples, then white duct tape followed by the 1″x2″ wood trim.


Sticker zipper.


Looking down at the floor, these are the 2×4’s used to tuck the bottom of the plastic.


A/C next to window and up on a stand so the cold air blows directly on the hangboard.


Another view from inside The Bubble


Looking out from inside The Bubble. This is where we might add another zipper.

Yes, Team Anderson came together despite the skeptical wife! I would now like to take this opportunity to introduce myself again as the very understanding, supportive, kick ass wife who recently had the best hangboard phase to date!
The Bubble is awesome.

Not only does it capture that cool dry air, it keeps all the chalk from decorating the rest of the basement/house. I’m a huge fan and would recommend something similar to anyone out there struggling to get good conditions while training. We really should have tried out this insane bubble idea in Ohio and Florida where the humidity really is ridiculous. After reaching new personal bests during my latest hangboard training phase, I’m a believer in The Bubble.

In case you find yourself going a little insane, here is a material list to get you started:
– HDX Clear Plastic Sheeting 10ft X 100ft (1000Sq Ft…way too much for our project so we have plenty for other fun bubble projects)
– Duct Tape
– Staple Gun
– Staples
– One box of Heavy Duty Zipwall Zippers (2 pack)
– 2X4 boards or 2X6, whatever you have lying around
– 1X1/2 boards
– Measuring tape 
– Saw?.


Already to go!!!

Happy Hangboarding!

The vision for the Trango athlete team is to find climbers who embody our brand’s values and support them in their climbing endeavors. We focus on the character of the climber, their passion for the sport, and their desire to contribute to the community.

Meet the Team

Featured Events

There are currently no upcoming events.

All Events


The American Alpine Club American Mountain Guides Association Access Fund Leave No Trace -



eGrips Tenaya Fast Rope Descender

© Trango - All Rights Reserved