Five Questions With Climber Bayard Russell, Jr.

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 in your sport?

In college at UNH I was looking for a change and started creeping out to a small, local climbing area where there are a lot of really big boulders and small cliffs. I found myself compelled to muckle my way up the wide cracks; it was easier barefoot than in my Birkenstocks. Eventually I got a pair of climbing shoes and ground up some sticks of chalk—like for a chalkboard—into a plastic bag. My dad is a hunter, and after every day out he would clean his gun, so I felt like part of good day out was to clean my shoes. I would hit them with rubbing alcohol and a wire brush after climbing. It was probably a good thing, too, because I would put them on, leave my sneakers with my pack and just run around the woods in my Boreal Aces.

What keeps you climbing?

Man, I just love it. Around my home I’ve been able to keep my interest piqued by putting up new routes, climbing friends’ new routes and revisiting the old favorites. Away from home, I find traveling as a climber gets you into beautiful, quiet places where most folks with a tourist guidebook never see—and that’s just getting to the climbing area, then you get to go climbing! I just love hucking myself at routes and getting lost in them.

Any advice to young people getting started in your sport?

Don’t take it too seriously, have fun. It’s just climbing. If you can stay psyched, wow—what a great lifelong diversion!

Favorite place on the planet?

Wesselhoft Farm, Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Finishing the addition my wife and I have been building and working on a long-term climbing project in western Maine.

What’s your favorite piece of OR gear?

For rock climbing it’s the Echo Sentinel long sleeve shirt [LINK], since it’s been a cool spring. In the winter, it’s the Cirque Pants [LINK]; they’re the best fancy pants I’ve ever owned.