Andy Raether: Beyond Girl Talk

posted by dpm on 06/23/2009

Andy Raether's latest offering is not a new route or hard ass boulder problem, it is an insight to the climbing game and a no holds barred commentary on the depths of the game.

Andy Raether has moved past the days of the simple back and forth, entertaining those who would try to brew up controversy. Prior to this interview the last that was heard from Raether was a discussion about the red tagging of the infamous route known as Girl Talk.  This interview would mark the second time he has been heard from in months, and his latest offering is beyond Girl Talk, beyond a fill in the blanks interview, it is a look at the new path he has chosen as he opens up about Girl Talk, ethics, and what's next in his life.

DPM: Where are you now?  Which crag are you parked near and why?  What line are you looking for?

Andy: Currently I live in Louisville, Colorado with my girlfriend. I am a full time student in Denver. I am not as much parked at a crag as I am often times parked at the Spot Bouldering Gym working and training or Rockn and Jamin where I also train.

DPM: There has not been much word as of late of what you have been up to can you sum up the last 3-4 months?  Were you traveling much or working to get ready to travel?

Andy: There hasn't been much word as of late because there hasn't been anything to say. I have not been able to do much of any outdoor climbing really. Most of my time has been divided up between school, work, staying in shape, and staying healthy. School has been worth it because I am doing ok with a 3.8 GPA. I did take a trip to Red Rocks recently to do some super easy multi-pitch routes with my dad. We went up a 5.8 called Dark Shadows that has to be one of the coolest rock climbs that I have ever done. Other than that I don't really have any plans to travel let alone money to travel with. I do have a couple of super hard routes I am looking at doing in the near future, but we will see.

DPM: So right now the climbing world seems to be simply about ethics.  Every problem sent recently mentions a glued hold, or the words in good fashion, possibly even chipped to shit. What do you think about this renewal in ethics, is it real or just a new way for climbers to promote themselves?

Andy: I don't know about it being a new way for climbers to promote themselves, it seems old hat to me. I wouldn't put it past some people to take advantage of an "ethical stance" that is en-vogue. Then try to position themselves as being a champion of that stance just to look better in the short term. I do think that the way in which most climbers talk about "ethics" is absolutely ludicrous. I say this because climbers most often talk about their "ethics" in terms of being a purely good or bad set-in-stone option. A "my way or the highway" argument. Come on, seriously! I could at least accept pieces of a persons argument if its foundation was somewhat sound. I just have not heard any. With all that said I do try to go with taking things case by case, and being respectful to others in the climbing community. Other than that climbing is just a silly sport that people get much too worked up over.  I am not to saying that I don't take climbing seriously. I really do, but I would like to think that I have moved on from the way in which I used to take climbing seriously. Lately I get out as much delight from climbing as possible and try to bring about enjoyment of climbing to others as well. Personal gain from climbing has taken a much needed backseat priority for me.

DPM: You switch from bouldering to sport, have you ventured into trad?  Again this seems to be a growing trend for a lot of climbers, is this something that interests you or scares the shit out of you to place gear?

Andy: I didn't really just switch to sport climbing and stop bouldering. I still boulder pretty hard for me. I just don't care as much anymore about bouldering. Plus, I just get more injured bouldering. If owning a quad set of everything I'll ever need makes me a trad-climber then a trad-climber is what I am. The dirty little secret is that much of my rack is pretty shiny so you decide. Gear climbing is really only as scary as the line you are climbing on. If I am trying a route with solid gear with solid rock then the placements are as good as bolts. Bolts are not scary.

DPM: I once read that you constantly and rigorously train, this still true, do you control your diet and your work out pretty meticulously?

Andy: I do train very, very hard. A normal workout for me is several hours long and I usually feel like throwing up at least a few times during the workout. I like doing these hard workouts because of how brutally punishing and difficult they are, and not for them being particularly fun (because they are not). If I don't go out every time and try my very best and crush myself then what is the point.

DPM: Did your experience with "Girl Talk" or whatever it shall be named dampen your spirit for bolting a line? Do you still in enjoy the time it takes to equip and send a hard line? Or was that a changing point?

Andy: I would say that I am even more motivated to bolt these days. I just feel significantly less inclined towards telling others where new things are. Often times I enjoy equipping rock climbs as much as, if not more than actually climbing them. I have bolted and given away many routes. Some routes I have had a particular special feeling about, and have not given them away. It really just depends on the route and the situation.

DPM: Lastly who are your sponsors?  Who is making it happen for ya?

Andy: My sponsors are Edelrid, Scarpa, Pro Bar, and Organic. They help me with everything that has to do with climbing. My parents are the real ones making it happen for me, because I would probably [not be able to afford school], because it's not cheap.  Sponsors do help me with climbing, but without my parents I would not have the same opportunity to enable myself to even have a future.