By Jason Bove
Sacramento is abuzz with chatter about the Touchstone Climbing Series coming to town TOMORROW, February 21st. At which time, we will all revel in excitement as we merrily eat, drink, adorn new T-shirts, and climb new routes! What you may not remember as you are enjoying all of these things this weekend, is the hard work that goes into bringing together such a magical night of festivities.
One of the many individuals that have spent long hours bringing this event to fruition is this months’ staff pick...Mr. Ryan Rougeux. Besides working at Sacramento Pipeworks and Stone Age Climbing, Ryan has many more talents up his sleeve. First and foremost, he has already climbed most of the routes that you will lay your calloused paws on this weekend...because he helped to set them!
Bove: Some folks describe you as a modern day renaissance man, due in part to all the activities that you participate in. Can you tell us a bit more about what you do around Sacramento Pipeworks for Touchstone Climbing?
Rougeux: I’ve worked behind the desk for over 7 years, and a few years ago I started to diversify my roles at Touchstone. I started working at Stone Age almost 3 years ago assisting Wes Tite in manufacturing the glorious holds that grace every climbing wall in the Touchstone universe. Somehow, they also let me set routes twice a week at Pipeworks. I am mostly in charge of the Pipeworks Facebook page, and for a short stint I was coaching the kids team. Wearing so many hats at Touchstone keeps me from getting burned out on just one job. Oh, and I also teach clinics from time to time.
Bove: Your rope access duties for ISCC (Industrial Structure Cleaning Company) have taken you to various countries and places around the United States. Do you have a favorite destination thus far? Is there somewhere in particular you would like to go next?
Rougeux: I just got back from 18 days in Houston, TX, and I don’t ever need to go back. By far my favorite destination was Brasil. After a week of work and partying with the Cirque du Soleil crew, myself, Phil (PW member), and Sarah headed to Rio for a week. We then climbed a 4 pitch 5.9 route called K2 up Corcovado that ends at the giant Jesus; it was as awesome as it sounds! My boss is currently working on expanding his business into Dubai, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that trip.
Bove: I know that your busy schedule includes lots of fun things as well. How do you mainly enjoy your free time away from work?
Rougeux: When I’m not climbing I train a lot of different aerial acrobatic skills. Static trapeze is my current favorite apparatus. I’m also hoping to do a lot of mountaineering this spring and summer to complete my quest of all of California’s 14’ers.
Bove: You have been involved in dance and acrobatics routines for years. Where is the next level that you want to reach in these pursuits?
Rougeux: I really want to put together a routine on the static trapeze--maybe solo, maybe doubles, nothing too crazy, just something polished enough for small shows. I also want to get more climbers interested in aerial acrobatics; it’s great cross training!
Bove: Are there any upcoming shows where we can watch you showcase your skills?
Rougeux: Nothing in the books currently. However, it looks as though I’ll be an extra on stage for the Sacramento Ballet’s production of Carmina Burana on March 27-30. It’s more of a stand there and look pretty role.
Bove: Back to the competition on Friday at Sacramento Pipeworks...are there any format changes that may be different from years past? Are there any particular routes that you are excited about and/or want to see someone climb? Why?
Rougeux: Pink with a black stripe, because I set it! The route clocks in around 12b, and is a compression / heel hook masterpiece--one of those climbs it’s hard to breathe on, because your entire body is squeezing. Really, all of the routes will be worthy of a send! We have received a huge new order of Teknik holds, and Stone Age is debuting a few new lines of holds. If you’re a gym rat that already knows every hold, then there are surprises waiting for you on the wall!