An Interview with Tristan Perry, NEM Guide

Tristan Perry – Mountain Guide, NEM

tristanTristan felt the pull of climbing from a young age while growing up in rural Wyoming. When he headed east to Dartmouth for undergrad, it was in part because of its reputation as a top skiing school and because it had good climbing nearby. He skied for the Dartmouth ski team, but found that competition in the east was as hard as the snow. He took his first climbing trip in the spring as a freshman and learned the ropes from the amazingly attuned and renowned instructor John Joline. He sallied forth trying to make sense of the world by exploring its heights and finding adventure along the way. In college, he lived and breathed climbing and history, then moved to Colorado before boomeranging back to New England. He enjoys all types of climbing, from pebble pinching to snow slogging, and believes any good day involves a heavily beating heart.

What is your favorite climbing trip of all time?
I recently took a trip to Joshua Tree in early March with my wife. We camped in Hidden Valley campground and climbed mostly moderates between one and three pitches in length. My wife had never been there despite living in southern California for several years, so I wanted to show her why it’s a place I love so much. We were both stunned by the beauty of the area and the enjoyable movement on the white quartz monzonite domes.

I got to reconnect with the desert and share what’s so special about it with Sarah. The nights were cold and the days got hot. We enjoyed the brilliant California sunshine and soaked up the dry surroundings with the many Joshua Trees. The climbs ended often on top of a tower of rock where we could simply relax and enjoy the bird’s eye view before rappelling off and searching out the next cool objective. And the climbing was varied, steeped in history, and often scary!

Dream climbing destination? What is on top of your bucket list?
Yosemite is probably the most awesome climbing destination I can think of. I’ve had a number of great adventures there, and the many walls inspire me. I’d probably want to do a big wall free route on El Capitan if I could wrap my mind around it and get my body to do what I want it to. But I want to boulder Midnight Lightning in the Camp 4 boulders too.

What is your favorite aspect of guiding? How does it differ from climbing with friends?
I enjoy leading people up classic multi-pitch climbs and delivering an unforgettable experience to my clients. Climbing with clients is different from climbing with friends in that I usually don’t have to negotiate who gets to lead the money pitch! Also I have to take more responsibility to ensure that we get up and down the objective safely.

How did you get started climbing?
I got started climbing trees as a kid. In the public library where I grew up I was reading climbing magazines obsessively before I ever touched rock. A friend’s dad took us climbing one time and I remember getting to the top of a climb without falling, only by using my knee on a foothold. I was hooked. I took a two day rock climbing course by Exum Mountain Guides as a teenager, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I succumbed to the calling when I took a roadtrip to Bishop, CA and took a trad leading class my freshman year in the spring.

What is something people do not know about you?
I was a high school history teacher in my twenties.

Who is your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporter is my wife, who pushes me to be the best I can be in the things that I enjoy doing most. My parents have always supported me and I’m forever grateful for everything they’ve done for me.

If you could you give one piece of advice for beginner climbers or those looking to push their grade what would it be?
Climbing is all about using your feet effectively. And you learn how to do that by getting out on the rock and climbing a lot. It’s important to get a ton of mileage on varied rock types and features if you want to become a good all around climber. You can get by without a partner if you have access to good bouldering. But it’s best to have a motivated partner (or several!).