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Our Members: Marc Beverly on Ice Climbing in the Olympics

Posted on: January 28th, 2014 by The AAC


Marc Beverly competing in the Kirov World Cup. Photo: Marc Beverly collection

AAC member Marc Beverly is the only U.S. athlete competing at the Olympic climbing demonstration in Sochi, Russia. He has over 30 years of rock climbing and rescue experience, and has competed at the UIAA Ice World Cup climbing competitions for the past five years. Between pursuing his PhD, raising a family, and preparing for Sochi, Marc found time to chat with us about why he thinks ice climbing should become a medaled sport in the winter Olympics and how he is preparing for the event.

AAC: This is the first time ice/mixed climbing will be part of the Olympics as a “cultural demonstration,” meaning that it will be an opportunity to showcase climbing as a competitive sport. Why do you think this is important for climbing?

Marc Beverly: Ice climbing becoming an Olympic demonstration helps legitimize our climbing activities. Gone are the days that climbing is a fringe activity, and this is one more way to bring the passion of climbing into the social fabric of this country. That helps when groups like the American Alpine Club and Access Fund are advocating for our access to public lands. The ripple effects of ice climbing becoming an official Olympic sport would persist long into the future. 

AAC: The demonstration will be judged on both difficulty and speed. What will be most challenging as a competitor?

MB: At the present time, there is actually no competition in a demonstration sport. We are simply introducing this sport to the world through the eyes of the Olympic Committee. The most challenging part is just that—there’s no competition. Mostly, we will be guiding the general public in educating them about ice climbing. We will be climbing, but the actual format of what type and style of climbing is yet to be revealed as there are many political and logistical issues to tackle in Sochi. Overall, that makes it even more exciting as there are so many unknowns and a bit of austere mystery to the puzzle.

AAC: How are you training for the event?

MB: I train in my garage on a homemade woody, just like most other athletes. I start training in July by wrapping up rock climbing season and try to stay uninjured going into the Autumn. Two-a-day training sessions mix it up in September and October.

Then, I get outside and train at a crag that Jason Nelson and myself developed over the past few years, the Hall of Justice in Ouray, CO. I’ll climb some ice for nostalgia, do speed training, and try to wrap up my school and personal affairs that need to be on autopilot while being gone for two months. It’s not trivial by any stretch.

AAC: What does this invitation mean to you personally? 

MB: Getting invited was humbling as there was supposed to be only one person from each country. I made a case that there should be more than one from the U.S. and Canada, and we were able to squeak in a few more athletes.  It costs a lot of money to go from a personal standpoint, and I have no formal sponsorship for financial support. It’s a big commitment as I’m not working, and I’m paying my own way. However, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. I hope to represent the U.S. well and usher this sport that I love so much into the Olympics. I go to Sochi standing on the shoulders of those who were instrumental in creating the sport, and those who have mentored me, some of whom I still compete against.

AAC member Marc Beverly on Goldline, Ouray Colorado. Photo: Marc Beverly collection

AAC member Marc Beverly on Goldline, Ouray Colorado. Photo: Marc Beverly collection

AAC: What are you looking forward to most about your trip to the Olympics?

MB: Sochi is located on the Black Sea. The mountains rise up from the water, and the elevation and snow juxtapose the palm trees along the shore. Our “hotel” will be on one of many cruise liners, as there are not enough beds to accommodate the Olympic masses. Fantastic idea, really. Sochi will be left after the Olympics not as a ghost town, but as a seed town for winter sports. I’m also looking forward to the eclectic nature of a very foreign experience. The Russian language is in Cyrillic, not English. I have good friends on this trip, some of whom I’ve competed with for a decade, and we will be making more great memories.

AAC: What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home from Sochi?

MB: I’m still in school, pursuing a PhD in exercise science at UNM. I’m enrolled in the Spring semester and will have to play catch-up, as I hope to take my comprehensive exams in the fall.

AAC: Who have you looked up to as inspirations or role models for your climbing?

MB: The funny thing is that all my heroes are my friends. I don’t watch TV, so I don’t even know who the star basketball or football players are. Jeff Lowe, Will Gadd, Markus Bendler, Guy Lacelle, and my initial mentor who got me into climbing when I was 13 years old, Steve Sonntag.

AAC: You’ve been an AAC member for 12 years. Can you tell us why the AAC is meaningful to you?  

MB: After visiting and learning about the AAC, it simply felt like the right thing to do. The AAC is our Federation in the U.S. that represents us to the rest of the world—this is how I have the opportunity to be part of the Sochi demonstration. I thank the AAC for making it all happen. 


AAC member Marc Beverly has over 30 years of rock-climbing and rescue experience, and is a fully Certified AMGA /UIAGM/IFMGA Licensed Mountain Guide. He is the CEO of Strike Rescue, the technical rope rescue instruction company currently contracted with the UNM School of Medicine. He is also an AAA Avalanche Instructor and is an IKAR Avalanche Representative for the United States. He holds a BS-EMS, MPAS, and is a practicing Nationally Board Certified Physician Assistant. He is a PhD candidate in Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico. Marc has competed at the UIAA Ice World Cup climbing competitions for the past five years and will represent the U.S. at the Olympic demonstration in Sochi, Russia in 2014. He has two children, Logan and Sierra, and resides in Albuquerque, NM.




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