Karl Aguilar, a 37 year old hardware store manager in San Francisco, has been climbing for 13 years at Mission Cliffs. Aguilar has traveled across the world climbing, sport climbing in Austria, making an ascent of El Capitan’s Zodiac, and clipping bolts on the sandstone of the south east with his wife, Audrey Bodisco. Aguilar took some time off his busy days at the Papenhausen Hardware to talk with the Touchstone blog about how to be a better rock climber and about his trips.
How has Mission Cliffs changed?
When I joined, there we so few active members that it was rare to see people that you didn't see regularly. Now, I am often shocked when I look around a very full gym and realize that I don't recognize most of the people there. Back then, most people climbed routes and bouldered to improve their route climbing. Now, it seems like most members primarily boulder. Mission Cliffs used to be a place to climb and possibly lift a weight or two, but it is slowly growing into a full service gym.
Karl stepping high in Austria
What's the best way to get better at climbing?
Don't get injured. But seriously, DON'T GET INJURED. You progress much faster when you are not nursing an injury. But, if you do get hurt, be smart about it. Take some time off, your body is probably begging for some rest. Take that time to do the things that you put off. Try to enjoy it. Then, do your rehab and take the time to work back up to full strength (it takes less time than you think). You have a lifetime of climbing to do, so treat your body right.
Karl high on El Cap's Zodiac
Now that you are injury free, you can use the following tips to get better quicker:
• Climb with someone better than you (not stronger, but with better technique).
• Watch how other people climb the climbs/problems you are having trouble with.
• Work on climbs that work your weaknesses (basically ones that make you say, "I hate climbs with...").
• Lastly, remember to enjoy the process. Even when the numbers are not going up, you are building a base for your next big breakthrough.
What's your favorite place to climb? Why?
Europe. The limestone, the food, and the distance between the two.
Karl pulling down on the sandstone of the Red River Gorge's Mother Lode
But, over here it is The Red River Gorge, because it is as good as everyone says! Wait... scratch that... it has really really terrible rock and they have copperhead snakes and everyone who climbed there smells really bad, so no one should ever go there.
What else are you passionate about?
Karl and Audrey at the Red River Gorge
The San Francisco Chronicle featured Mission Cliffs in a feature in the Health & Fitness Section of their paper. Chris Holt wrote Bustling Mission Cliffs Attracts Sociable Climbers. Check out the article online at the SF Gate Website or read below:
Like many rock climbers, Christine Ambrose, a project manager at the San Francisco-based Save the Redwoods Foundation, learned the "ropes" later in life. First drawn to climbing through canopy research - the process of collecting scientific data in treetops - Ambrose, 43, was formally introduced to the sport when a friend took her climbing in June. It was then, she said, "a passion was born." On a recent weekday night she was hanging out at Mission Cliffs Climbing & Fitness on 19th and Harrison streets, enjoying the social aspect of the sport. "I've met so many nice people climbing," she said.
Read more: Mission Cliffs Featured in SF Gate