Finding Balance

| June 1

Pat Goodman in the New River Gorge

New River Gorge-Based Rock climber Pat Goodman has claimed hundreds of bouldering and rock climbing first ascents from as far away as China to as nearby as the New River Gorge’s Beauty Mountain. Goodman talked with the Gorge Guide about creating a life centered around climbing. Many students are interested in writing an article about it for travel forums to do research based on many perspectives. To order an article, please contact discussion post writing services at

Out of all the places in the world you’ve climbed, why did you settle in Fayetteville?
Because I was traveling here so much. The rock quality here is what makes this place so rad … especially being a trad climber, you can get away with finicky gear placements.

You’ve put up quite a few first ascents. Which is your favorite?
There are categories: adventure first ascents in the mountains, ones when I was younger growing up in New Mexico. It would be hard to pinpoint. They’re all like kids in a way. I love ’em all.

How about your favorite first ascent at the New?
I think my favorite route is Thundering Herd. It’s probably 5.13b, all gear and it stands out to me for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a pretty big section of cliff—it’s about 100 feet tall. It kind of got overlooked during the days of bolting and development. And then the fact that it goes on gear … it’s absolutely four stars.

From first laying your eyeballs on it to sending it, how long did it take?
I probably put eight days into it (over the course of) a month, trying it a couple of times a week. It actually went pretty quick.

How’d you come up with the name?
Another route near it is named Lone Rhinoceros. At Tudor’s (Biscuit World), there’s a Thun­dering Herd biscuit. It was a slap-you-in-the-face obvious name.


Pat Goodman on the summit of Mt. Dagou, China

You’ve climbed in North America, South America, Asia. How do you support your climbing lifestyle?
It’s a full-time job planning and finding the resources and whatever means to support climbing trips. You can apply for grants. I’ve had pretty good success in that. Sponsorship dollars. But ultimately, it’s elbow grease—I install and design hardwood floors and it’s a pretty good living. I probably work about six months a year and the other time I spend climbing and traveling.

What kind of grants do you get?
The American Alpine Club has grants you can apply for. You have to come up with some viable adventure. Since they started (the Copp-Dash Inspire Award) in 2009, I’ve received that grant almost every year. (Alpine climbers Jonny Copp and Micah Dash) perished in 2009. Their families created a grant in their name, in their honor.

I assume you don’t plan to have any grants named after you.
No, there won’t be. I’m not nearly as gnarly as those guys.

Who sponsors you, and is it just gear or also cash?
I get money. At Mountain Hardwear, I was making a salary plus a pretty substantial equipment budget and a nice travel budget. Now with Outdoor Research, I’m still making some money and with La Sportiva, I make a little money. Julbo, Metolius, and Petzl is product.

You describe yourself as a climbing ambassador. What’s that?
A lot of it is just inspiring normal people. I’m a pretty normal person. I don’t have a trust fund. I’m not just naturally talented to do one-armed pull-ups. I think people see I’m just a normal dude, I’ve got a job, I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. I think it helps people who want to live their dreams, to a degree.
The other part of that is I definitely put a lot of time into establishing good routes and maintaining routes with anchor replacement and trail maintenance. I urge my sponsors to put money into events or sponsor athletes that are like-minded. Definitely a big thing is crag management and trying to make sure we get to keep these resources.

What do you look for in a climbing partner?
Somebody who’s psyched to climb.

What’s your favorite post-climbing drink?
That depends. I kind of like warm lemon tea.

That’s not what I was expecting you to say.
Yeah. Everybody likes a nice cold beer, but that’s not my first go-to….  I like warm lemon tea.

Photographs by Pat Goodman. You can read Pat Goodman’s blog at and see his climbing videos at

Tags: , profile, rock climbing

Category: Rock Climbing

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