An Interview with Ashley Lloyd
Editor: Thanks for giving some of your time to us, Ashley. It is a great honor
for us to interview you for our women’s series!
First climbs are super-special. How old were you developed an interest in
bouldering? Who were you with during your first bouldering session and where
Ashley Lloyd: I first began bouldering when I was 18, during my freshman year
at Colorado State when I met my husband and he took me bouldering at Rotary Park
(Horsetooth Reservoir near Fort Collins, CO). Gymnastics on rock - I was hooked
Editor: You live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country: there are
so many amazing places to boulder in WY. Where else do you love to boulder?
Ashley Lloyd: Some of my favorite places to boulder outside of WY are: Red
Rocks, Hueco tanks, RMNP, Leavenworth, Squamish, Rotary, Joe's Valley, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Lost Horse Canyon (MT), Poudre Canyon.
Editor: Share your favorite FAs with us. What were they like?
Ashley Lloyd: Favorite FAs (lots of traverses!): Tigger Traverse (V7, Flaming Gorge),
Arrowhead (V6, The Source, Lander, WY), La Traverse'e de L'anniversaire (V6/7, Rock
Shop, Lander, WY), Bad Girls at the Beach (V5/6, Sinks Canyon, Lander, WY) and
I also have lots of FFAs: Superkind Traverse (V11- for me anyway!), Tempest (V10, Vedauwoo), Cytogrinder (V8, Morrison), Turning Point (V8/9, Satellites, Boulder).
Hard to describe what they're like!
I really like to snake my husband - often he'll be closer to sending which motivates me to try really hard! I'm terrified of heights so most of my FAs are not too high and have lots of holds to choose from. I like climbs that have intricate beta that make me feel as if I'm flowing or dancing on the rock once I put the sequence together. As you can see, traverses are my specialty!
Editor: That's fantastic! What is your favorite type of rock to boulder on and why?
Ashley Lloyd: Gneiss, because it often has lots of extra holds, which really
helps me deal with my negative ape index (arms like a T-Rex!) and height
challenge (I'm 4'10"). Also because it's solid and can form overhangs, and
is also often found in gorgeous mountain settings.
Sandstone, like that found in Cody or Red Rocks, is a close second.
Editor: What was it like bouldering with your family? That is truly fantastic,
because when your whole family loves a sport, bouldering anywhere becomes so
much more special. Would you agree?
Ashley Lloyd: Yes, I agree, bouldering can be a great family sport. We've
always bouldered with our daughters, their first bouldering session outside was
when they were both a week old (they are nine and eleven now). Then pretty much every weekend since (during the school year, several times a week in the summer).
We had some tough times when they were young, mainly when they
needed a nap and refused to sleep in the car seat or pack and play outside!
Belated "Sorry!" to all fellow boulderers that had to endure their screaming fits!
It's a lot of fun to watch my daughters enjoy the sport and be strong young women. It gives them confidence and exposure to people and places that are unique and great for their personal development.
Editor: I totally agree. Who would you say are some of your bouldering icons, male and female, who inspired you?
Ashley Lloyd: Boulderers who have inspired me are: Annette Bunge from Morrison -
always so friendly, positive, and dedicated; Bronson McDonald from Estes Park -
so strong and doing her own thing in Hueco; Lynn Hill -amazing mental strength;
Alex Puccio - so, so powerful and shows that girls can dyno, Carlo Traversi - not
letting his smaller size limit him, and the best route setter ever; Katie Brown
- able to persevere despite her fear of falling, last but not least - David Lloyd
- for inspiring me to get off my butt and snake him whenever possible (also for
his dedication to developing new areas/problems with many low-balls and
Editor: Wow...you just named the best of the best! Which bouldering qualities do you think are absolutely required to be a really good boulderer? I ask because they differ from person to person when I interview them.
Ashley Lloyd: Probably some power and decent finger strength, but mainly the
ability to find joy in puzzling out the problems that are appealing to you
(persistence). I have found that using the V rating system as more of a
starting point to get me to possible problems I will like, and then dropping
the expectations that go along with the numbers has helped me be a successful
long-term boulderer. If I'm not having fun on a problem, I'll move on to
Editor: Before we’re climbers, we’re human beings. But would you say that male
and female climbers approach climbing a little differently, when speaking from
a physical and then an emotional point of view? So, I guess that’s two
Ashley Lloyd: Not necessarily, I think it depends on the person. I've met many
female climbers that relate physically and emotionally more to the boys, and
vice versa. I think that the people that stay in climbing for the long run have figured out that they are climbing for themselves, not to meet others'
expectations, and they need to do what's right for them whether they're male or
Editor: That's a great answer. How do you train before a bouldering session? Do you have any words of advice for us?
Ashley Lloyd: Just by bouldering! My advice would be to not get sucked into the training fads like campus boards, climbing with weight belts, etc. even though these may help in the short term, I've learned that to keep climbing at a decent level 20 years in, your fingers, knees, and hips will thank you for just keeping it simple - bouldering in the gym when necessary, and lots of different outside areas when possible.
3 - 4 climbing days a week, with rest days in between has been my training regimen for many years. Also, my husband and I pretty much stick with just bouldering (or the occasional sport climb), as trying to be good at many different sports is difficult. It seems like you can be mediocre at many things or really good at one. Lastly, because we climb consistently 3 - 4 times a week, we are fit enough we very rarely get injured due to lack of fitness.
Editor: Which bouldering problems are your all-time favorites? What grades were
Ashley Lloyd: Wilford's Reserve (V8, Never Land), Superkind Traverse, Mushroom
Roof (V8, Hueco), Kelly Traverse (V10, Rotary), The Pearl (V5, Red Rocks), Standard
(V4) and Corner Lock (V4) - Rotary, Monkey Bar Traverse (V6/7, Red Rocks), Bride
of Frankenstein (V7/8, Wild Iris), so many others!
Editor: What gifts has bouldering given to you in an emotional sense? I ask
because bouldering is not easy. It is a solid test of physical and mental
strength. I would love to know what you think.
Ashley Lloyd: Bouldering has given me so much confidence as a person and a
sense of having a place in this world. I think it's easy to feel a little lost
and insignificant in our huge world, but being a boulderer anchors me to a
community and to something that I can excel at. Whenever I'm having a tough day
at work (or just in life!), I take pride in what I've accomplished as a
boulderer and I hold my held a little higher.
I also feel really positive about me future as I know I am strong and capable of tackling life's challenges (both mental and physical). I really relate to a quote by Steve Hong where he said something like, "You might think you're too old to be climbing, but if you stop, you'll get old a lot faster". So true!
Editor: That certainly is true! Some boulderers have reported experiencing a unique kind of spirituality when they’re in the big mountains of the world. They say the power of the natural world enriches them, and really heightens the whole experience for them.
Connecting with nature sometimes helps us connect with ourselves.
Have you felt the mountains and particular bouldering areas to be spiritual in
any way for you?
Ashley Lloyd: Not so much a spiritual feeling (talk to my husband for that
perspective!), but I do have a sense of balance and that things are
"right" when I'm in nature. My husband and I discuss this a lot, because he really feels this only when he's climbing in the mountains, desert, or just big landscape areas, but I can hang out at City Park for the afternoon and be really happy.
I also love laying on the beach and body boarding. So yes, definitely a connection with self when I'm in nature, and add in the heightened sense of awareness and senses that occurs when you've topped out a project and it's a pretty magical feeling.
Editor: Thank you, Ashley. I am honored to have done this interview with you. I hope you will give me the chance to do so again, as we all share our stories with the world and help more people get out there!
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On the Cover: Ashley Lloyd
Cover Date: January 5th, 2015