Check out these absolutely amazing videos of Brette! Let's start with EPIC TV's interview with Brette's FFA of Chiaro Di Luna (5.11a).
Editor: We’re honored to speak with you and appreciate your time, Brette. That EPIC TV interview was brilliant! Tell us a little bit about yourself, when did you start climbing?
Brette: I’ve been climbing trees since I was about three years old. My first time rope climbing was in a small gym in Reno Nevada for my best friends 5th birthday party. While I was there I remember seeing a photo in the gym of a someone climbing upside down through a huge roof in beautiful red stone, and I thought to myself, “Who is this?” I was so amazed and knew I wanted to explore this activity more.
It was probably a photo of Sonnie Trotter climbing in Red Rocks, or possibly Indian Creek, but I’m not certain. I joined a small outdoor climbing team when I was 15 and we climbed in Rumbey, NH every day during the fall, where I went to Boarding school. I then jumped back over to the west coast for University in Vancouver where I began climbing Trad in Squamish.
My Squamish climbing soon transitioned into Alpine climbing around BC. I now climb in all different realms, and am always trying to progress and learn more about each type.
Editor: Even though most of your climbs are roped up, you have an affinity for and the commanding capability to free-solo, a rare talent indeed.
Climbing, especially free-soloing is a very intuitive and emotionally balance-oriented process, and many climbers have to get a strong gut feeling before they greenlight themselves prior to a climb, would you share your feelings on that?
Brette: Free-soloing is a special style of climbing, and I don’t do it all too often, I go through phases of free-soloing. It’s only on occasion when my mind is calm and my my body is relaxed that a certain climb might ‘present’ itself to me and inspire me to free-solo. Scrambling is something I do frequently and I differentiate the two. For me, scrambling is a ‘mindless’ and ‘cruisy’ style of climbing where free-soloing is ‘mindful' and ‘unique’. I started out with scrambles in the Alpine, and it quickly evolved into alpine free-soloing, and now I solo walls, but very rarely.
Editor: Very interesting perspective. Walk us through some of the technicalities of your Patagonia climb that really made an impression on you when you free-soloed it.
What emotions were going through your heart and mind?
Brette: There were three technical cruxes on the climb. I knew this before hand because I had already climbed the route. The night before the solo I lay awake and envisioned the entire climb. I imagined myself climbing the cruxes and processed the emotions I might feel while climbing, hesitation, doubt, excitement, nervousness, uncertainty. After processing these emotions they dissolved away and all I felt was confidence. My third crux was a sustained layback flake on the upper headwall of the mountain which required a very special technique of jamming feet and gastoning the flake. I imagined myself climbing this so precisely that when I had finished visualizing I knew I was going to be fine. Processing the emotions before
hand prepared me mentally to deal with any doubts and worries that I could experience in reality.
Editor: What is your all-time-favorite crag to climb?
Brette: This is a hard question because I love so many different styles of climbing and each crag is unique. The Abyssi Wall at Massone in Arco Italy would have to be one of my top choices due to the number of outstanding tufa climbs that stretch the rope length. I also love many of the crags in Indian Creek, such as the Optimator Wall.
Editor: Good choices, IC is spectacular. Who was your first climbing teacher?
Brette: Travis Piper, my climbing coach in New Hampshire.
Editor: Is your family supportive about your climbing career?
Brette: Some are more supportive than others. My brother is a climber and we climb together frequently, so he is very understanding and supportive. My mom and sister are very supportive as well. I’m very grateful to have them.
Editor: That's awesome. Which climbers do you find most inspirational?
Brette: I’m inspired by a lot of people and it changes depending on my specific climbing objectives. At the moment I’m inspired by Peter Croft, Alan Carney, Steph Davis, and of course Marc-André Leclerc.
Editor: What is your advice to climbers who look up to you?
How do other climbers react when they find out about you free-soloing and roped-up climbing?
I notice you were a helmet. You’re a great role model for doing so.
Brette: Most climbers are very understanding of free-soloing, many have dabbled in soloing themselves and have an understanding of it. Most non-climbers however find it extremely dangerous and extreme. If I were to give advice to climbers who look up to me I would say to let your dreams shape your life, and always strive to better yourself.
Editor: Where would you love to visit and climb around the globe?
Utah, South Africa, Spain, South America, BC, Indian Creek, Zion, JT, Yosemite, Greece?
Or maybe the legendary Himalayas? What is your ideal climbing destination?
Brette: I would love to travel and explore more of South America. Patagonia is very inspiring to me right now.
Editor: Here’s an important question that truly defines a climber.
Why do you climb? What has climbing given to you and to your life and enriched it?
Brette: I climb because I love it. I feel that climbing keeps the heart young and the spirit alive. The older I get, the better climbing becomes, there is always more to learn; with every generation the technology improves and different aspects of climbing are opened. Climbing keeps people of all ages together, as we share the same passion and there are so many things to learn from people of different ages. Climbing allows me to live an exploratory and adventurous life, and it opens the mind.
Editor: Very cool answer. What are your thoughts on the preservation of nature and climate change? Are we doing enough to protect this fragile planet of ours? The climbing profession depends on it, after all.
Brette: This is question I feel quite strongly about, and I’ll be completely honest when I say that humanity as a whole is destroying nature. It comes down to overpopulation, but the planets abundance of species is down to 10% of its natural population, in almost every realm. (The birds are doing a bit better than the rest of the animals). I wish more land would be restricted from development: Industry, agriculture, and housing. The US literally has no more glass land and all of the naturally fertile land is used up by agriculture and induced with petroleum fertilizer that drains in to the rivers depleting our oceans, causing algae blooms and giant dead zones. It’s terribly sad.
Editor: Indeed, it is.
Okay, let’s mix it up a bit…on rest days, what kinds of books do you
read and what kind of music do you like to unwind to? What’s your favorite movie? Your favorite dinner? Tea or coffee person?
Brette: I read books about nature and Spanish Literature, ‘Cien Años de Soledad’, ‘The Once and Future World’, ‘The Omnivores Dilemma’ are some of my recent reads.
As for music, it depends on my mood but I like to unwind with a chill, new age sort of electro sound like Bonobo, Odesza, Thievery Corporation. I don’t watch movies very often and I don’t have a TV, but on occasion I watch fad ski films; Dream Line is very inspirational.
My favorite dinner right now is probably veggie fajitas. I drink both tea and coffee but only when they are presented to me. I never brew my own.
Editor: Great choices! Thanks for spending some time with us, Brette. It was great to learn about your climbing history! Please come by and talk with us again, your fans love to hear from you.
Brette: This was a very nice interview, thank your for your questions and I would love to speak with you again.
On the Cover:
First Free-Solo Ascent of
Chiaro Di Luna (5.11a)
in the Fitz Roy massif
Cover Date: October 4th, 2015