For Nik Berry, climbing hard is one piece of the puzzle of a balanced life. Training fits into a larger picture, along with a job that helps him feel like he's giving back on some level: travel nursing. It's not always easy to stay in shape while working a full-time gig, and sometimes travel nursing doesn't send you to your ideal locale. We caught up with Nik to find out how he's keeping both climbing and nursing in the picture. Here's what he said:

After climbing for many years, I realized I needed balance in my life. I craved a way to give back and become more well rounded. This drove me into nursing. Obviously, I still needed time to climb, and nursing allowed the perfect balance of work, play and helping others. After taking seven months off work, where I climbed in Yosemite and abroad for three months it was time to give back.  I landed in Phoenix for a 13 week travel nursing job. 

To be honest, I'm trying to work on my attitude.  When I first arrived in Phoenix, I was disappointed. I'd never lived somewhere where the weather and environment was so harsh. There's nowhere to easily get outside and burn off steam. I noticed that this had negative affects on all aspects of my life, leaving me feeling agitated and unhappy. I'm trying to focus on the positive aspects of this experience. Still have some work to do. But I attended school at Northern Arizona University many years ago and climbed many of the sport and trad climbs in the area. So it's been fun to come back stronger and able to climb many of the classic hard boulder problems in the area. 

I was pleasently surprised by: The climbing community in Phoenix is amazing! There are many strong, welcoming climbers, and I'm grateful to have gotten to know them. Phoenix has a plethora of great stores, so buying and making quality food easy—Whole Foods even has a bar! Being from Utah, this has been a fun treat! 

I have a project in Yosemite that I'm training for. I'm not strong enough to climb the route yet, but I will be! Work, sleep train repeat. My training is strength- and power-based. Max bouldering, hangboarding, lifting, stretching is the name of the game.

The story behind my instagram handle, @nikdingleberry: I was working on free climbing the Salathe on El Capitan, and after many days of consecutive efforts I needed a break. My friends Nick Martino and Cedar Wright were working on free climbing Golden Gate, another route on El Capitan. They encouraged me to come with them to the A5 Traverse. After climbing the pitch they made me repeat it while trying to laugh me off the wall. First came heckling, then Snoop Dogg jokes, then they started calling me Dingleberry. I think I did the pitch eight times before laughter go the best of me. 

If Hollywood made a movie about my life, they'd call it 50/50, since I work for six months a year and climb for six months a year out of my van. 

Favorite summer OR gear: The Biff Pants and Sandbar Tee. You can't beat the feeling of well fit cotton in summer.  They also look good in the bar.  


Photos by Jack Lester.

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