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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA student climbs to top, receives sponsorship for rock climbing

Photo courtesy of Jacob Crost

Balancing school and a personal life is hard enough without also balancing on a cliff face.

However, Alex McIntyre, a journalism sophomore, manages to do just that. McIntyre has been rock climbing since he was 9 years old, and recently became a sponsored athlete with Mad Rock, a California company that sells rock climbing shoes and gear.

McIntyre said he got into climbing after he took a field trip to the local climbing gym while at summer camp.

“I had always been pretty bad at team sports and anything involving a ball,” McIntyre said, “and I sucked at [climbing] too, but I liked it so I decided I was going to stick with it.”

McIntyre became the youngest of five climbers to tackle a difficult route on Mount Lemmon last May.

McIntyre has also participated in the USA Sport Climbing American Bouldering Series youth national championship, the USA Sport Climbing Series youth national championship and in higher-level competitions across the country. Last summer he also participated in a professional competition in Salt Lake City.

McIntyre said he loves the feeling of climbing at his highest level of performance.

“Even if it’s not necessarily fun all the time, it’s still a rewarding experience,” McIntyre said. “You’re trying to make something that isn’t possible for you, possible.”

Tiffany Hensley, team manager at Mad Rock, said McIntyre was chosen to be a representative of the company because of his communication skills, adding that the climbers are required to give the company monthly updates on what they’re doing.

“It’s in the nature of climbers to be very self-dependent or autonomous and usually closed off,” Hensley said, “and it was really nice to find Alex and see that he’s a climber who is very able to communicate.”

Hensley said McIntyre regularly contributes to a forum for athletes through Mad Rock and recently posted a video of himself doing a first ascent, which is creating a new route up a mountain.

When going into a tough climb, McIntyre said he tries to stay motivated, but not build his expectations too high.

“I try to go into it with low expectations and see where it goes from there,” McIntyre said. “I’d rather be surprised by it feeling easier to me than I thought it would than be struck by how hard it is.”

McIntyre also started a slacklining club on campus called UA Slackers with James Xu, a wildlife conservation and management freshman who was in the same youth climbing organization as McIntyre. Xu said McIntyre, who was captain of the youth climbing team, was a good role model for the younger kids on the team.

“He’s very passionate about what he does,” Xu said. “He’s very steadfast in what he believes in and what he wants to do.”

McIntyre said it’s hard to balance his schoolwork with his passion, and often his love for climbing wins out.

“I’m OK with getting a B if it allows me to have more time to climb,” McIntyre said. “I place more importance on it than I would studying the extra 12 hours to get an A.”

Through his climbing, McIntyre said, he learned the importance of staying positive and not worrying about what other people think.

“I know there are some people like, ‘Why don’t you do this?’ and ‘That’s not a real sport,’” McIntyre said. “It might not be, but it’s what I want to do, so I’m not going to let other people … ruin my experience.”

– Follow Jazmine Foster-Hall @Jazz_Foster

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