Climber Interview: John Matney

January 24, 2021 2 min read

Climber Interview: John Matney - Dynamite Starfish

To start, what are a few ways you identify yourself? (some examples: name, age, type of work you do.) But really, anything you believe is important.

I have spent my life trying to live an outdoor life.

How did you start climbing?

I was harnessed to my cousin Dave Altman when I went to the Valley in 1972. Dabbled a bit until I turned 60 and then I got serious about climbing, joining a gym, going outside, actually watching the entire Reel Rock series and buying so many climbing shoes my total shoe count was approaching my wife's.

Rock climber John Matney standing near rockImage of John Matney


What impact has climbing had on your life?

It has brought me closer to my son in-law because not only have I had to trust him with my daughter, I now have to trust him with my life. I have learned that there is a correlation between improving one's physical balance and finding balance with one's life. It also has brought to light that although I am getting older, approaching my current limits of potential means I look forward to each new day.

Image of John Matney


What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?

I have been a competitive runner for more than 50 years and continue to run the trails and the roads. I enjoy doing woodworking or as my family likes to describe it-"making sawdust." My wife and I are moving to North Carolina and I am looking forward to growing a large vegetable garden. Of course, I may get around to writing the Great American Novel too.

If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?

Have a motto and stick to it, especially when times are tough. My motto is one I borrowed from Alfred Tennyson-"To strive, to seek and not to yield."


John_Matney_Climber_InterviewImage of John Matney


Is there something you're working on that you'd like to tell our community about? We love a good story.

I believe that one of the things that makes climbing special is that no matter how old you happen to be, you can still be stoked. Stoked for your own climbing, stoked for other people's climbing and stoked about being alive now and living in the outdoors.

It's been my observation that the best climbers don't fight the rock, they don't conquer the rock, instead, they become a part of the rock. There for a moment and then gone. It's that mindset that led to pitons being replaced by nuts and cams in the 1960's and people getting together to keep climbing sites as undamaged as possible.

You can find John on Instagram at @jwmatney

Want to get to know more of the climbers in the amazing Dynamite Starfish community? Check out our archive of Climber Interviews here.

We hope you have enjoyed these sneak peeks into climbers' lives. We're on a mission to share diverse stories about rock climbing. Let's push the boundaries of who we know as climbers. Let's use our energy and passion for the outdoors to love our environment and inspire one another.

Have someone you think we should feature? Send us a message and let us know!

Dynamite Starfish
Dynamite Starfish

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