GIMME A REASON
About collection #1
A brand is only as strong as the story that backs it up. Growing up in New Hampshire in the ‘90s, I never felt like I fit in. I was a bit of a black sheep. My friends listened to East Coast rap—I listened to Tupac. They wore Birkenstocks—I wore Jordans. They partied senior year,—I went straight edge, all consumed by my passion for hardcore music and rock climbing. Even in the climbing world, I was also a black sheep. I didn’t dress or talk like other climbers. People called me too loud, too rude, too hyper, too different from the norms. You’d think this would be an incentive to get self-conscious, shrink away, hide. Instead I grew stronger by staying true to myself.
I found inspiration in other people who were like me—not necessarily the same style as me, but people who brought something unique to the table. I’m drawn to aesthetics, the abnormal, creativity, street culture, dogs, grit, subcultures. Progression while remaining authentic. Pride while remaining humble. Diversity while promoting inclusivity. Vision for all the possibilities and potential.
There’s a list of climbers who stood out to me but only a select few remained deeply interesting. I’ve always been fond of climbers who were interested in more than just climbing. This is the inspiration behind GIMME A REASON—our first collection paying homage to the characters who’ve given me a reason, not only for their climbing contributions but the uniqueness of their personality and spirit. We hope they give you a reason, too.
All photographs were donated to this project. They are images that I grew up looking at and have a timeless feel. They inspired me and we'd like to continue the circle of giving back by donating 100% of the profits on this collection to Sacred Rok. Ron Kauk's organization that supports underprivileged, at-risk and incarcerated youth in nature, helping them to learn and respect the outdoor world and themselves.
— ARTIST, PIONEER, MISFIT —
The Curse, American Fork, UT, 1996
Photographer: Kevin Powell
Sport climbing in America would not exist as we know it without Boone Speed. Boone was ahead of his time with his level of climbing and first ascents. He endured the relentless era in sport climbing when it was viciously competitive as climbers were downright savage toward one another. This era is rarely spoken about. Regardless, Boone partook in the advancement of sport climbing’s early age. There was very little support from sponsors in a time when sponsorship was barely becoming a thing. Boone promoted the beginning of the bouldering craze and encouraged the modern ways that were presenting themselves. He went with the times, but stayed true to what mattered to him and did it his way.
This photo is the frame before the image that was the cover shot on Climbing Magazine #161 of 1996. The article of Boone was something I connected with. He spoke about art, process, being alone, doing his thing. It all read as someone who was leading the way whether there were followers or not. I identified with his character and his ethos immensely. Boone gave me the reason to be who I am and believe in it regardless of what the external world said. He still embodies this today.
This image shows a bouldering-sport-climbing sort of hybrid that was very new in 1996. The single carabiner, grunted face, attentive belayer and hideous looking holds all read intensity and try-hard. This image was showing climbing in a new fashion and Boone was the leader of the movement. Beyond all of his first ascents, his approach to life has inspired those of us who see climbing as just one piece of the creative-life puzzle. Boone has always marched to his own beat and followed his passion while incorporating artistic outlets that have now become his main passion. Boone is a true creative and uses photography and story telling as his outlet. His images are like his personality. Unique and unlike anything else. He continues to expand the definition of his self, year after year.
- DISCRETE, INDEPENDENT, BASQUE-
Bain De Sang, Saint Loup, Switzerland 2002
Photographer: Rikar Otegui
It felt like Josune came out of nowhere when she became the first woman to climb 8c. But she didn’t stop there—over the next few years she became the first woman to redpoint 8c+, 9a, and 9a+ (doing the latter nearly a decade before it was done again). When I first met Josune and Rikar we were bouldering in Bishop during Petzl’s RocTrip. I’ve always loved the culture and people from Spain and connected with them both immediately. They had a relaxed energy, but also very focused, especially while climbing. I’ve always admired people who can turn on the switch when it’s time to rise up to the challenge. Josune had pinpoint focus when it came to climbing and it was sincere.
Being first drove her, regardless if men had climbed it before. This image was shot by her husband Rikar, who was a high-end climber as well. She didn’t compete or seek the limelight. Instead, she chose to climb with close friends in quiet spots like this small cliff in Switzerland. This image says so much. Her body planted on a nearly blank wall speaks to the difficulty of the route, but at the same time the moment is juxtaposing the way we should feel. 9a climbing on micro crimps is painful, tricky, and savagely difficult but with her calm face and buckled up crimp-grip it challenges us as to how we should feel. It’s as if she’s mastered the climbing and is in such control that you’d consider it a Bruce Lee moment. Oh… and then there’s literally the Bruce Lee T-shirt. Josune was a master and only a handful of us have seen the process or witnessed her in her element. No matter how hard she climbed, how many accolades she received, she always kept her climbing understated, letting her accomplishments speak for themselves. Her character, however, is what I’ve always appreciated, from her love of fashion to her decision to remain working a real job as an insurance agent so that she could maintain the quality of life she enjoyed. She sent hard while working for a living.
- GODFATHER, SPIRITUAL, STONE MASTER-
Peace, Tuolumne, CA 1995
Photographer: Chris Falkenstein
Ron Kauk is as significant for his contributions to cutting-edge free climbing as he is for speaking about his profound, soulful connection to the natural world. He committed to this life before the era of media and sponsors, and has continued to find peace and fulfillment just by living in Yosemite. This image is iconic in every sense of the word.
The black pathway of barely-there holds in the expanse of a golden wall says “the perfect line”. I had this poster hanging on my wall and looked at it daily. I’d see this image hanging in climbing shops, old gyms in New England and in the magazines. At 15 years old Ron had me wearing bandanas and painter pants and while out bouldering with my friends I’d try to cool “my hands down on this rock so I could stick that last sloper” (quote from Masters of Stone 3). I studied this image and dreamt of being in that position. This photo has a classical feel, yet remains very elusive and that’s one of the reason’s it’s so successful. In 1995 Ron remained very low-key. Once in a while the magazines would publish a photo that felt like a small visit from Ron. He remained ambiguous, but very active in the climbing world and to some of us this created an allure. Aside from the colors, composition and body position, one of the things I enjoy about this image is that we only see a bit of his face. It’s not exposing everything to us blatantly. It’s as if we’re invited into Ron’s atmosphere only a little and that’s all he’ll give us. The blackness below gives a sense of an abyss that creates a massive amount of unknown space. Ron taught me to slow down, to breathe, listen, feel, and connect with each-other and the natural world.
-GEOLOGIST, CALIFORNIAN, TRENDSETTER-
Honeycomb, Dayton Pocket, TN 2008
Photographer - Andrew Kornylak
Lisa Rands raised the bar by showing all of us how powerful women can be on rock and plastic. She gave us a reason to give our goals that extra try and to break the mold on stigma.
Lisa was someone that didn’t fall in sync to the climbing norms of her time. She stood out amongst the rest and owned it.
She painted her nails, kept her blonde hair long, and maintained a solitary disposition. Her California roots are reflected in her style and unique perspective on climbing—she’s got swagger and sets trends. Lisa’s approach led my friends and I to think outside the box more and to feel less confined.
This image stood out to me initially because of the black background and flash photography. In 2008, when this photo was made, photographers were taking cues from skateboarding (which was a long-time passion of mine) and sampling with strobes and high-contrast lighting. The board shorts coupled with her nail polish makes Lisa recognizable without fail. Her face is calm in this mid-move crux and the viewer can almost hear the crickets chirping in the night’s silence. Who knows what time it is. This is a photo of total control in a serene environment—a classic Lisa moment.
Lisa has worked hard for her ascents and used the talent she had as a springboard to reach her full potential. She opened doors for the women in climbing and showed that any difficulty barrier could be broken. We create our own limitations and sometimes we need that one person to surpass what we thought was impossible. Lisa was and is that person—she showed us that with devotion and perseverance we can achieve anything.