John D. Martin is a mountaineer, climber and runner, currently living in Princeton, New Jersey. John was a recipient of the AAC’s Live Your Dream Grant, and will be talking about his trip to the Cascades last year. When he’s not in the mountains, John’s mind wanders into the tech-filled future: “I think about Artificial Intelligence a lot.”
Anyone who’s spent time at Tufas, Go Vertical, one of the crags near Philly or up at the Gunks, has probably run into Juan Pineda. Juan has been climbing since 1996, and spreading the climbing stoke wherever he goes. If you see Juan and need some beta, he’s happy to chat: “I'm always open to help anyone and to pass on all the lessons I've learned.”
Kim Desrosiers is a Pennsylvania native, growing up in Red Hill and now living in Wayne. She loves going up to the Gunks for trad and New Hampshire for ice —her current focus, as well as being involved with the adaptive climbing community. You’ll also find her mountain biking (“I’m a terrible mountain biker who does not let her skills get in the way of her fun”), trail running, climbing trees, and meditating in the outdoors.
Garrett and Corey were recipients of an AAC Live Your Dream grant this year, which led them on a trip to Vedauwoo, WY. I talked to Garrett and Corey to hear more on how their trip went and how the grant helped them develop and grow as climbers.
Demetrius Pampouktsis has worn a lot of hats over the years: cook, waiter, restaurant manager, bartender, carpenter, mason, mechanic, barista, pizzaboy...the list goes on. He currently works as an engineer in Haverford, PA, but his true passion is being in the mountains. Demetrius will be talking about his trip to South America, and having to recognize he couldn’t complete the objective.
Crys Moore is a product designer living on the border of Fairmount and Brewerytown. Originally hailing from South Carolina, they landed in Philly after living in Chicago, Los Angeles and Brooklyn. Crys helps run PHLash: Philly's LGTBQIA+ climbing community, and is also a mentor in the AAC’s mentoring program. Some of Crys’ favorite things are pizza, tacos, chips and salsa and dead vertical crimp climbing.
John was a mentor in our Winter 2019 Mentoring Program, in the Intro to Winter Mountaineering group. He has been climbing since 2015. Most of his experience comes from alpine routes in the North Cascades or in the White Mountains. John grew up right outside of Annapolis, MD, and now lives in Princeton, NJ. John is PhD student who researches decision making in artificially-intelligent learning systems. He is currently working at Google Brain, in Montréal Canada, trying to understand how stories can shape the ways a machine learns.
Megan was a participant in our Winter 2019 Mentoring Program, in the Intro to Winter Mountaineering group. She grew up in Northeast Philly and currently lives in Fishtown. Megan works in the Data Analytics unit at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, which is the City’s child welfare agency, creating data reports and helps out on some research projects.
A Climber’s Guide to Eastern State Penitentiary; or Eastern State’s Architecture and How to Escape It, is an upcoming art installation at the Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) by Philadelphia-based artist Alexander Rosenberg. This project is a unique blend of art, climbing, and history of the penitentiary. It opens at the Eastern State Penitentiary on May 2nd from 5:30 - 7:30pm. Alex will be climbing during the event and there will be food and drinks. The event is free and open to the public and the project will be on view through April of 2020.
Alex Wildman is the AAC Philly Chapter Co-Chair, and one of the two subjects in the film Hold Fast. The film follows American rock climber and mountaineer Conrad Anker, and Alex as his mentee and a cancer survivor, as they attempt to scale El Capitan in Yosemite, California. Their story is an inspiring one that focuses on teaming up to support each other on a climb, and putting their traumatic brushes with mortality behind them. Read on to hear more from Alex on his experience, his journey, and what it means to “Hold Fast”.
Kathy is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the Center City Chinchillas! Kathy grew up in Hershey, PA and moved to Philly 3 years ago. She currently lives in Center City and works as a biomedical engineer. She’s been climbing for about 1 and a half years now.
Rebecca is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the Center City Chinchillas! Rebecca discovered climbing in 2011, after a traumatic accident changed her body and life. Now an above-knee amputee -- and bionic woman -- she climbs at Go Vertical, has medaled in two Adaptive National Championships, and competed on Team USA in the 2018 Paraclimbing World Championships in Austria! When she’s not climbing, Rebecca works as a peer mentor coordinator at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital and volunteers with hospital patients and adaptive climbers.
Rory is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the South Philly Sloths! You may know Rory as the general manager for Tufas Boulder Lounge, but he calls South Philly home after having lived in almost every neighborhood in Philly over the past 15 years!
Sal is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the South Philly Sloths! Sal was born in South Philly (Grays Ferry) and have spent the formative part of his life in South Philly. He went to college in Florida and came back to the area and is currently working as an Intensive Care Nurse at Penn Medicine.
Mo is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the Main Line Manatees! Mo moved to West Chester, PA almost 10 years ago, from a tiny country called Bangladesh. He mostly hits up the climbing gyms around Philly and hangs out with friends around there. He has been climbing for about almost 5 years now.
Peter is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the Main Line Manatees! Peter grew up moving between Delaware and the San Francisco Bay Area, and has been climbing for at least 5 years. He currently lives in Ardmore with his wife, and don’t get outdoors nearly enough for his taste. His favorite style of climbing is multi-pitch trad.
Adam and Sonia are Battle of the Blocks Captains for the Jersey Jackalopes! They are leading the only neighborhood not from Pennsylvania! Coming from Jersey, they claim to be superior to Philadelphians and are rallying the Garden State spirit to bring the fight and crush everyone else!
Juan is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the North Philly Narwhals! Juan is from Colombia, but became a US citizen abut 15 years ago. He lived in Bogota, where he started climbing in 1996, and moved to Miami to escape the economic downturn in Colombia after winning some money placing 2nd on a speed competition.
Jacob is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the West Philly Wallabies! He is originally from the Central Coast of California, but now finds his home in West Philadelphia. During the day, Jacob spends his time working with startups to build their data infrastructure to leverage the information their business collects. Outside of work, he loves cooking, camping, biking, and climbing.
Dalea is a Battle of the Blocks Captain for the West Philly Wallabies! She has been hooked on climbing since summer camp when she was around 7 and is looking forward to bringing all the West Philly climbers together!
Emily grew up in Bucks County, PA and went on to spend many years learning to move and build grit as a modern dancer in NYC. Since then, she has discovered her passion for all things outdoors and resolved to spend as much time as possible sleeping under the stars. An epic road trip to 24 national parks in 2017 was Emily's first time learning the ropes on rock outside. She's been all in ever since - learning to trad climb at the Gunks and more recently trying to swing an ice climbing axe. Emily's in it to learn and experience as much of the climbing world as possible with a zest for life and love of laughing at herself.
Megan grew up in Northeast Philly and currently lives in Fishtown. With a marathon and a century ride under her belt, she keeps things moving and spends her weekends biking, running, hiking and climbing. At this year’s story swap, Megan and her girlfriend Amelia will be talking about their bike tour in the Westfjords of Iceland: “I loved biking in an isolated area of a beautiful country. We would bike for hours looking at beautiful nature without any cars passing us.”
Kathleen is a caver turned climber currently living the good life in West Philly. While most of her focus these days is on developing on her trad skills, she enjoys project caving as well. When she's not on or under rocks, you can find her backpacking, paddling, biking, playing nerdy card games, or caring for the container garden/minor jungle at her apartment. Kathleen’s story is about her team’s expedition last winter to discover, survey, and map undocumented caves in Cambodia.
Matt is a Philly native who got into climbing when he moved back to Philadelphia after college. When he moved to Seattle a few months later, his climbing hobby turned into a full on obsession and he would regularly drive the 6 hours each way to get outside at Oregon’s Smith Rock on the weekends. After traveling the world for a little over a year, Matt has returned to Philly and will be telling us about his epic on Rib of Goat in Mazama, Washington.
Rebecca is a teacher and writer who discovered climbing after a traumatic accident changed her body and life. In November 2010, she was hit by a truck while riding her bicycle to work. Now an above-knee amputee – and bionic woman -- she climbs at Go Vertical, has medaled in two Adaptive National Championships, and is currently competing on Team USA in the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships (#innsbruck2018)! When she’s not at the climbing gym, Rebecca volunteers as a peer mentor for new amputees, and has created a hospital healing garden to bring comfort to patients and families. In her story, Straight Up with a Twist, Rebecca will describe her journey as an adaptive athlete and how climbing helped her find equal footing in two worlds.
Andrew is a Chester County resident who is passionate about all things outside—including trail running, backpacking, Kayaking, and Snowboarding, and even started a climbing apparel brand, Ausabl, with his wife Faith. While he prefers to go fast—like completing the Presidential Traverse in sub 9 hours—things don’t always go as planned. At this year’s swap, Andrew will be talking about his epic on the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney.
Amelia is a jack of all trades—bike touring, backpacking, hiking, unicycling, performing as a singer-songwriter, studying sign language interpreting and singing in a hippy church choir are just a few of her many hobbies. Amelia will be presenting with her girlfriend Megan about their bikepacking trip to Iceland, where they fjorded rivers, rode their road bikes on mountain bike terrain, and dealt with an insane swarm of bugs.
Originally from Michigan, Garrett grew up playing in the woods and building snowboarding ramps in the yard. When he moved to Philly for his Postdoc at University of Pennsylvania, a friend introduced him to gym climbing and he was hooked. Garrett’s story, From Gumby to Butt Face, is about his one-year journey that started with seeing The Chief out of a car window, and his determination to return with the skills he needed to climb it.
Derick is a medical laboratory scientist at CHOP living in the Graduate Hospital area. He has been a climber for over 10 years and is always on the look out for more climbing partners! If you see Derick around the gym or at the crag, ask him about sport and trad climbing, self-rescue, snowboarding, soccer, or statistical computing!