Monday, March 29, 2010
Mike Roller was born and raised in Arlington Heights, IL, and graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2005. Before moving to Florida he was introduced to rock climbing when a friend took him to a climbing gym which had converted old farm silos into climbing walls. On his second day of climbing he purchased shoes, chalk and harness. After moving to Orlando in 2005, he began climbing at Aiguille. “My first thought of the gym was ‘this is humbling’. The setting was very different and it sort of put me in my place.” Mike has since been become a resident member at Aiguille, President of the UCF Rock Climbing Club for 2 years, and participated in over 15 competitions, including being on the first ever Collegiate Climbing Series championship team. However, one comp was definitely more notable than any other.
As ABS 8 Regional’s was coming to an end, Mike was having one of the best climbing days he could have asked for; climbing well above his normal climbing level. With only one more route remaining he took a long rest deciding he only had one attempt left in him.. On the second to last move he attempted to dyno to the finish but couldn’t control the swing. Worried about falling awkwardly, he decided to let go. “When I landed, I heard a loud snap. Something went wrong and limbs were pointing everywhere.” He ended up shattering his tibia and fibula, severely spraining his ankle and dislocating his elbow. Mike now has a titanium rod going from knee to ankle in his left leg, held in by four screws. Though he quickly recovered and was back to climbing roughly six months later, Mike didn’t try bouldering again for another 2 years.
Currently composing his outdoor resume, he has added Foster Falls, HP40 and Flagstaff in Boulder, CO. “ I prefer outdoor climbing to indoor because you have to use your head a little bit more and there’s no tape to tell you where to go”. Mike is now training for his first trad-climbing trip and the upcoming CCS competitions including regional’s held here at Aiguille April 24 and a CCS National Title defense in Austin, TX. Climbing 3-4 days a week, his focus has begun to shift from strength training to endurance and learning how to climb like “a big guy”. “A lot of people don’t like training but for me training is fun. That’s the work you put in to get that sense of accomplishment. The greatest mental challenge is forcing yourself to push through things even when everything in your body is telling you not to do it. I also use a lot of chalk. It’s my mental pacifier”.
Another factor that helps him get through a hard training day is being in an atmosphere where he feels comfortable and at home. “I like knowing that I can come in and usually know at least a couple people here, and if I’m having a bad climbing day I can always take a break…sit and talk for a while.” He is particularly adamant about voicing his opinion on the one thing he dislikes most about gym climbing…spinners. A record number of holds have been demolished at Aiguille alone.
Future climbing plans include a life long goal of climbing El Capitan before his 30th birthday.
*Side note ladies: Mike is currently an eligible bachelor who enjoys long walks along cliffs, campfire lit dinners, bouldering at sunset and other stereotypical climber activities
at 11:12 AM