A native of Melbourne, Tommy Terrell grew up playing basketball throughout most of his life and had only a brief encounter with rock climbing at local gym, On the Edge. The summer after high school graduation Tommy took a tour of UCF where he was first introduced to The Tower (UCF's rock climbing facility). While he claims this love-at-first-sight did not influence his schooling decision, he did anxiously await for The Tower to re-open after it was damaged from a hurricane. After learning about Aiguille at The Tower, he and childhood friend Charlie Garcia visited the gym for their first time and got a membership soon after. He quickly learned to lead climb and experienced just how intense it could be. "Lead makes me very sketch. When I first started leading I was still very cautious. One day a friend was belaying me and when I got to the top the slack was about at my waist, so I was literally expecting to take a little whip." Unknowing to Tommy, his belayer had taken a greater amount of slack out then he thought. "I'm expecting to just sit back...and I went about 5 feet from the ground. It didn't matter how close to the ground I got, I was expecting something short. Falling is still difficult for me so I try to come in and take a whip about once a week".
He spent a while indoor climbing and perfecting his new passion before stepping into the great outdoors. "I just like being outdoors. Charlie doesn't like camping. He hates camping. If he could go on a climbing trip and stay in a hotel, he would. To me climbing trips are an escape, like very basic. You don't do anything but get up and climb some rocks." Over the past 7 years Tommy has created a list of impressive outdoor experiences. From rock climbing Mecca's such as Hueco Tanks, Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park to southeast classics HP40, LRC and Rocktown, just to name a few. However climbing without a home gym is something he couldn't imagine. "I think it's climbing with the group of people that I climb with. If Aiguille was the same but without those people, it would be no where near the same. It's walking in and seeing all the familiar faces. Its all about the people."
Tommy follows a somewhat unconventional training regimen,trying to maintain a high level of cardiovascular shape, through mountain biking, running and of course rock climbing into his fitness plan and once in a while will spice things up with free weights, gymnastic rings and other strength building activities. For most climbing is not just physical, there is a level of mental strength one must reach in order to begin and complete a route. Tommy is no different. "I have to mentally get amped for hard boulder problems because my skin is always trashed and most hard climbs are very painful for me. As far as pre-climb rituals are concerned (for projects I really care about) I need to feel completely focused on the climb before I get on the start. That could mean I'll pull up my shorts, clear my nose, fix any itch on my face, etc. Usually during this process I am standing by the start holds for many seconds. Sometimes though, if I've been working something an kept falling, mentally the switch will flip when I'm just starring at it and then I know I will send my next attempt, but I have to get on it right away (no talk no pause) before I loose the focus. Basically, I could summarize my climbing with the words intense focus." Though his approach may seem seem intense to some, Tommy insists it's just a part of his competitive nature. During the climbing itself he becomes completely focused, it's just him and the problem. Once back on the ground he quickly transitions back into one of the friendliest climbers you'll ever come into contact with. "I think most times when I'm not actually climbing I have a smile on my face and I am screwing around."
Tommy's favorite aspect of climbing is pushing the limits and seeing how far he can take it. "That feeling when you're right at your limit and you have to try really, really hard and everything has to connect. Mentally you have to be there, physically you have to be really precise, I think that's what I look for (in climbing)."