Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Welcome Our New Employees!

By RyAnn Lugo

Warning: All of the subjects discussed below have been infected with Climbing Fever. They are to be approached with extreme caution, unless you want to be overcome with obsessive thoughts of climbing walls, smearing chalk on your hands, and leaving your home for weeks at a time to peruse rocks in the wild. In many cases, this sickness appears to have started in Aiguille Rock Climbing center, after the victim’s initial visit.These are their stories.

Doug Lutz
Originally from New Jersey, Doug first came in contact with Climbing Fever somewhere in Pennsylvania (the region is mountainous, and thick with adventure-enraged mountain-men),where he spent the first 7 years of his life before moving to Florida. He eventually found Aiguille where, if he wasn’t contaminated before, he contracted the rock Climbing Fever and has been crawling up the walls since. Outside of the gym, his favorite climbing spots are the Red River Gorge in Slade, KY and Little Rock City in Chattanooga, TN.“I love the Red,” says Doug,“because I prefer sport climbing and it has mostly long, overhung endurance routes, which are my style, and Little Rock City has the best boulder problems in the south, I think.” Some of his favorite climbing memories include sending his hardest routes, Table of Colors Direct (13b) and Robbing the Tooth Fairy (V9),and with a sparkle in his eye,he explains that camping and climbing outdoors is a recipe for awesome memories.

Doug loves interacting with new customers and making sure everyone is having a good time, but his favorite part about working at Aiguille is joking around and having fun with customers and co-workers. Outside of the gym, Doug dabbles in stand-up comedy and comments that it has been “both nerve-racking and fun.” A student of Business Administration at UCF, Doug is taking a semester off and will be starting back up in the summer. “I’m not sure what I what to do when I grow up,” he says,“but I’m still waiting to hear back from Cirque Du Soleil, so I guess anything is possible.”

Tina Manner
Since her first taste of rock climbing at Aiguille four years ago,the Orlando Native has heedlessly followed her new-found love all over the country including places like Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Idaho, Hawaii, and Alaska. Out of the many climbing trips, one of her most memorable experiences was her first. “We had to kayak across a lake to get to the cliff side,” she said, with a dreamy look in her eyes.“There were three of us and it was cool because we were belaying straight out of the kayak. We got up three pitches and since it was in the middle of fall, the view was spectacular: bright, blue glacier-water under us, and the landscape was filled with bright yellows, bright reds, and bright greens. It was so awesome. Then, I rappelled down, which was a really cool thing to do on my first time.” She spent a few years in Alaska, working at the Alaska Rock Gym, before moving back to Florida to be with family and to continue her education in Criminal Justice at Valencia College.

Harry Higbie
Harry Higbie was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and first started climbing in September of 2009, at Aiguille. Though Harry is a rather experienced boulderer, he has only one favorite climbing spot. “Rocktown, GA” he says, “only because it’s the only place I go to. I'm sure I would love many other places but I have been to Rocktown four times and it still never gets old.”There is something about the real camping experience", he explains,"and the long hike through the mountain to get to the boulders that keeps him coming back for more". When asked to pick a favorite climbing moment, Harry simply shook his head, grinned wide, and replied, “I love all climbing moments. Climbing is more of a journey for me than a sport. You meet a lot of amazing people and you learn a lot about yourself and the limits you can push.”

Outside of the gym, Harry is a ballet instructor. Just kidding. There is no Harry outside of the gym.“Back when I was in high school,” he explains,“I played water polo 24/7, but after that, I stopped everything (all other hobbies) and put all my time into climbing.” It’s true. He is always here, crushing bouldering problems on the wave, flippin’ his signature surfer-hair around like nobody’s business. Now that he’s become an Aiguille employee, he is here even more. “I love working at Aiguille.” says Harry,“The people rule and I love climbing, I don't need any more than that.”

Josh Jimenez
Originally from Miami, Florida, Josh moved to Orlando when he was still just a sprout. He first began suffering from symptoms of Climbing Fever about a year and a half ago, upon his first visit to Aiguille. Although he hasn’t been on any outdoor climbing trips yet, he is saving up for a really big climbing adventure to Colombia, where his family is from. He ventures out to the Melbourne gym from time to time and currently studies astronomy in hopes of one day becoming an astrophysicist.

Josh is a special case because he seems to be suffering from some sort of cycling fever as well. Instead of driving, he usually bikes to Aiguille on his Leader 725 RP, which he built part-by-part. “Although I know it’s completed,” says Josh,“everytime I look at it, I see that I can improve it in some sort of way.”Though people may describe his climbing abilities and cycling as extreme, Josh takes extreme to the completely opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to his personality. Josh is extremely laid back, the kind of guy who never gets angry (not to say that he can’t, so don’t try it. For all we know, he knows Kung Fu.) It’s only been a few weeks so far but his favorite part of working at Aiguille is being around one of his favorite activities and learning different things from his co-workers.

Kyle Carter
Kyle Carter grew up in Jacksonville and has also been a climber since his first experience at Aiguille, about a year and a half ago. Since then, Kyle has been on many bouldering trips. "My favorite,” says Kyle,“would have to be when I went to Rumbling Bald, NC last November. It was incredible to be climbing in the mountains as the trees were changing colors. There were lots of unclimbed rocks and first ascents too!" Kyle’s rock climbing illness has made him a bit of a dare-devil. When asked to name the craziest thing he's ever done, the young climber said, "Hmmm. That's a tough one. There was a time when I went up a thirty foot highball in a pair of ratty trail shoes, with no crash pad or spotter. But when I think that's crazy, I go back to when I watched 'Son of the Mask.' Never again."

Kyle studies electrical engineering at UCF and, "if the stars align," Kyle hopes to graduate from UCF by the summer of 2014."The plan as of now," Kyle says, "is to get a job as an engineer and take classes for the necessary certifications to be a guide, and then pursue that." After only working at Aiguille for a few weeks, Kyle says he's already feeling cozy in his new home. As a people person, naturally, his favorite part about the job is meeting new people. So if you see him climbing in the gym or working behind the front desk, say hi, but don't ask him if he dyes the little white patch in the front of his hair white. He’s just naturally awesome like that (it’s a birthmark).
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