In case you missed it, we made a pretty big announcement recently. They’ve been coming thick and fast this year, but this one in particular is a cracker. As boss-people at Zen and the Art of Climbing, Morag and I have officially partnered with Pinnacle Sports as brand ambassadors.
As you probably know, we’ll be sallying forth into South America in 2018 on the ultimate climbing road trip – Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, sport, trad, alpine, big wall… the whole kit and caboodle. After hearing about our plans, Pinnacle were keen to help support the journey, just as we’re keen to help support them.
But why Pinnacle Sports? Why was I interested in them, and they in me? To answer that, we’ll have to gun our DeLorean to 88 mph and head back to the distant past, the year of our Lord 2009.
Despite tidings of economic doom, it was an era of remarkable prosperity in Australia. K-Rudd was handing us all free money to go buy plasma screens or some such. One of the greatest films of all time, Inglourious Basterds, was gracing cinema screens. And it may shock some, but I even owned property at this juncture in life – a small one-bedroom apartment at South Bank.
In addition to all these marvellous events, I undertook my first rock climbing training course at Australia’s most famous ex-quarry – the storied Kangaroo Point Cliffs. Run by none other than Pinnacle Sports, this course jettisoned me into the vertical world. The following year, I embarked on another of their courses, the Introduction to Mountaineering course (now sadly defunct, but I have plans to remedy this…)
On the summit of Mt Ruapehu, smack bang in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island, I had as close to a spiritual epiphany as I’m ever likely to have. As I gazed into the otherworldly azure hues of the volcanic crater lake, I felt as though I’d found my place. It was right then and there that I decided to follow this newfound sense of purpose, both personally and professionally. Over the following years, I travelled the world with this goal in mind. I honed the craft of climbing in Patagonia, Spain, Alaska, Nevada, Utah, New Zealand, and of course, Australia.
Throughout this time, on sporadic sojourns in the homeland, I’d pop in to Pinnacle. They always remembered my name, asked how I was going, what I was up to. They actually gave a shit. And, in the end, they gave me a job – I’ve been a guide with Pinnacle since February 2017.
There are two reasons I approached Pinnacle with my proposal to become a brand ambassador. The first is that I believe in the power of the bricks-and-mortar outdoor retailer, especially local businesses. They are by climbers, and for climbers. In an age of chain stores and online retailing, small outdoor businesses have come under threat by those who can undercut and outsell them with more buying power and lower overheads. But local businesses have heart, and a big corporation never gives a shit about the little guy.
That’s the difference I felt when I walked into the Pinnacle shop. I wasn’t just a number through the door, I was a local climber with a story. And the staff shared that story – they knew about the kinds of pro I’d need on a Tibro multi, or the best SEQ crags to teach a fledgling sport leader, or the kinds of shoes I’d need to jam Frog cracks one day and smear vast Beerwah slabs the next. They walked the walk and talked the talk. The second reason I teamed up with Pinnacle was that they genuinely care about the climbing community, particularly the local one, and their experience in the region can’t be beat.
When I revealed that I’d be spending 2018 on another continent, Pinnacle weren’t pissed that I wouldn’t be guiding for them that year. Rather, they were excited by the prospect of sharing our journey and helping it come to life. They’d also recently made Josh Worley of Vertical Year a brand ambassador, a friend of ours who we’ve partnered with also. In taking both of us on, Pinnacle have showed real commitment to climbers of all stripes. Some of their sponsored athletes are kicking goals in international competitions, but they’re not solely focused on the cutting edge. In giving folks like Josh, Morag and I the time of day, Pinnacle has demonstrated that their presence in the climbing community is deeply rooted and holistic, catering for climbers at every level of the sport.
Over the coming year, we’ll be working closely with both Vertical Year and Pinnacle in the hope that we can inspire the everyman and everywoman to get after some vertical adventure. We’ll be leading from the front, and it is our hope to prove that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things.
You’ll notice that, apart from the shiny new logo on the bottom of the page, Zen and the Art of Climbing remains devoid of advertisements and clutter. It is my intent to keep it that way. Instead, we hope that you’ll support us and local business by checking out a few of our gear reviews, crag profiles and some pretty incredible tales and images (inshallah). Give them a like or share it around if you dig it, and in return I’ll keep things real and tell it the way I see it. You can count on the fact that I won’t be shill for products that I don’t believe in.
If I’ve sprayed a little too hard in this article, it’s not because I was asked to. I suppose you could call me a true believer. So, with that said, I truly hope that if you’re in the market for a new rope, or a few quickdraws, or a rack of hexes, or even some quality training, that you’ll throw of your hard-earned clams Pinnacle’s way. Help us to help you, and climb on!
Ryan Siacci, Esq.