Five Questions With Alpinist Kyle Dempster

Our athletes and ambassadors shred gnar and send hard lines, but there’s much more behind the scenes: other careers, balancing family life, creating art, giving back. To dig deeper into the adventure lifestyle, we’ve created Five Questions, an ongoing feature asking OR athletes the hard questions. And sometimes more than just five.

How did you get started climbing?

My cousin, two years my senior, had learned how to climb at a summer camp and immediately became infatuated. His only problem with climbing was that he didn’t have a partner. Enter, me. Over Christmas break one year, he hired me for the job and took me top roping. We used a seatbelt from a 1985 Jeep Laredo as the anchor. I was hooked, but my mom thought it would be a good idea to take a class at a local climbing gym.

What keeps you climbing? 

At heart, climbing makes me feel like a little kid. At its most serious level, climbing has the power to take one through the entirety of emotional and physical states. Having passionately explored other sports for periods of time, I can say that I have never felt this complete spectrum anywhere else.

What is your typical day/week schedule? 

Each day, each week is vastly different. Years even fluctuate depending on goals or projects. There are some consistencies: coffee every day, exercise always, and thanking those who help me to live my life.

Finish this sentence: In high school, I was … friends with everyone but never really connected with anyone. Church groups and sport teams seemed odd to me. No one climbed at my high school, so my classroom time was merely a period of forced rest before getting to climb after school and on the weekends. I found my friends at the climbing gym.

Any advice to young people getting started in your sport? 

Do it because your heart tells you to. Don’t get sidetracked or infatuated by some desire for sponsorship. There are people whose job it is to recognize the achievements of outdoor athletes and these folks will contact you if they can see that your heart is fully compelled to do the things you’re doing. And have a healthy relationship with social media. That stuff can be distracting.

Most rewarding place on the planet? 

A sunny, remote high-altitude summit that was a challenge—logistically, monetarily, technically, emotionally, physically—to get to. And sharing a hug with a good friend after making the journey together.

If you could leave aspiring athletes with one important piece of life advice or words of wisdom, what would it be? 

As your skills and confidence grow, always be aware that death is real. Avoiding death while pursuing your dreams is the ultimate balance.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Climbing Deprivation with my girlfriend, sport climbing in Spain, returning to Pakistan with good friends for another huge summer of effort!

What’s your favorite piece of OR gear?

The Lodestar pant and jacket on cold winter days. The Mixalot glove on hard mixed routes, and the new synthetic puffy, the Havoc.

Where do you live now and why? 

I bounce back and forth from my parents’ basement, my sick van, and a tent somewhere in the mountains.