Last Saturday I was given the privilege of helping to host one of the greatest rock climbers of all time for a talk and rock climbing clinic. Ethan Pringle or Ethan “FUCKING” Pringle as a few of us would come to know him is one of just a handful of people on the planet to have sent both 5.15 and V15 routes. Of course, he demolishes lines like Tony Montana in Scarface, but beyond his strength, his movement is out of this world. There is an elegance to the way that Ethan Pringle migrates along a route that is almost evanescent. The grace by which he climbs disguises just how burdensome and demanding his feats actually are.
Check out how balletic the lithe master of Mad Rock dances up the first ascent of Everything is Karate 5.14C/D.
Is he a machine? He’s a stud, he’s an animal, he’s an absolute BEAST, but Ethan Pringle is no machine. He’s a person, and to meet this guy, even for just a day showed just how personable he is.
You never know what you’re going to get when you meet someone for the first time, especially when that someone happens to be talented beyond human comprehension. But with Ethan Pringle, he’s not hiding who is…with every person I watched him interact with there was a legitimacy to his stoke. Whether someone was working their first route, or their first V9 Ethan Pringle was there to genuinely support and encourage them. Being able to see him celebrate enthusiastically and authentically over every inch of progress for every climber present infected those around him with the same type of encouragement and enthusiasm.
Ethan Pringle was there for beta, encouragement, technique, and this humble giant was even there to offer his water when his climbers got thirsty…I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, so let me back up.
Friday evening Ethan Pringle gave a talk about a climbing expedition which landed him in Greenland. I won’t lay out the details of this talk, but I’ll say a few things.
If you belong to a college, organization, group, coalition, business, team, or anything that might benefit from its members getting inspired, then you need to invite Ethan Pringle to come and talk to you! If you belong to a college, organization, group, coalition, business, team, or anything that invites Ethan Pringle to give a talk and you miss it, then I don’t really know what to say, other than you really really1 missed out.
As far as the talk goes, I will say this, the moment he finished talking my first reaction was to quit my job and move to Greenland. I quickly remembered that I love my job, but that was the power of this presentation…it was fantastic, I was awed!
The final thing I want to say about Ethan’s presentation is that from start to finish he gave full credit for all the success of this expedition to his amazing team. Not once did he mention one of his accomplishments, he used the expression ‘our accomplishments’ one hundred percent of the time. That’s the kind of ‘ride or die’ mother f’er Ethan Pringle just happens to be!
The day of the clinic I was tasked with picking Ethan Pringle up from the hotel and taking him to the climbing gym.
The morning exchange went something like this…
Carrot: I’m downstairs in a white car.
EP: I’ll be down in a minute.
EP: What kind of white car?
Carrot: I’m at the wrong hotel.
So, once we got that all worked (I literally had one job – I failed) we were on our way to the clinic. Like Ethan’s talk you should experience one of his clinics for yourself, so I don’t want to breakdown too many of the details, but there are a few highlights I need to share.
Ethan Pringle could go by the nickname Flonase…because if there is one thing every person will do by the end of the day it’s breathe!!! BREATHE!!!!!!!!!!!
The best little tidbit I took from the clinic is to climb until you fall, ‘if you climb until you fall, then you know you gave it everything you got.’
My second favorite part of the day was when Ethan Pringle shit on some grades and changed a route to make it better. (I didn’t even think that was a thing until we got a ladder and a wrench and tweaked a route. Feeling all 007, sneaking through the setter’s closet with Ethan Pringle was some off the menu shit – SHHHHHHH! What even is the point if you can’t go off menu every once in awhile?)
This was a long weekend with long days and long nights. From the moment he landed until the moment of departure Ethan Pringle was genuinely kind, attentive, and encouraging to every person that he met!
Further and maybe more importantly, he has fun climbing, and it shows.
My favorite part of the entire weekend goes back to what I was saying in the beginning… Ethan Pringle was there for beta, encouragement, technique, and this humble giant was even there to offer his water when his climbers got thirsty. One of Ethan’s climbers was clearly thirsty after going really hard for three straight hours, and Ethan offered a sip from his water bottle. This climber was being polite trying not to put his mouth directly on Ethan’s bottle, and inadvertently dumped most of the water onto his face and shirt. The faces of the other people in that room watching our man try and drink without lip to bottle contact was too much and sent some tired climbers into a fit of confusion and laughter. You probably had to be there? I’m happy that I was!
A huge THANK YOU to Ethan Pringle – a class act, a true professional, and an absolute gift to be around!
- I was going to write that “if I had to choose between seeing this talk that Ethan Pringle gave or witnessing the birth of my first born, I’d go with Ethan Pringle’s talk. You can always have another kid, but seeing Ethan Pringle wearing a (BLANK) with his (BLANK) on top of a (BLANK) is a once in a lifetime experience.” This felt a little dramatic, so I went with “really really” instead. – I don’t want to fill in the (BLANKS) you’ll have to check out his talk to see what you’re missing out on.
*Cover Photo -Ethan Pringle climbs Spicy Dumpling, 5.14d @ White Mountain in Yangshuo, China. Photo From: Maria Ly. Licensed by Wikipedia Commons.