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October 18, 2020 6 min read
Hey, Dynamite Starfish fam! It's been a while since we've posted a new climber interview. We took a little pause mid-year, but we have a few more interviews lined up for you this fall! Today's is with Navy veteran and builder of Moon Rocks Boulder Co, Rob Haro. If you're ever in need of some training space around Reno, NV — check him out! As always, thanks for being here, and we hope you enjoy today's post!
To start, what are a few ways you identify yourself? (some examples: name, age, pronouns, type of work you do.) But really, anything you believe is important.
My name is Rob Haro, I'm 35, and I am a Navy veteran who found therapy in Climbing and the outdoors.
How did you start climbing?
About 3 years ago, a few buddies and I, who like myself are veterans, went to Moon Rocks near Reno, NV to do some camping. The rock formations there are beautiful, with some fun scrambling here and there. We played around with some scrambling on very chossy rock and had a blast. Naturally, scrambling on rock turned into us rock climbing pretty high on some really horrible rock. Looking back, not having yet discovered rock climbing as a sport , I now realize climbing that high on that kind of rock was extremely sketchy.
It was great to find something that required 100% of my focus and attention, something that has been hard for me, due to multiple injuries from 8 years of Naval service, in addition to managing PTSD and depression. We returned multiple times through that summer to try harder things, until winter put a stop to that. The routes we had been playing on were covered in snow and ice, plus we were all still climbing in sneakers at that time.
Soon after, a new climbing gym in the area opened, which really opened the doors to the sport for myself. I bought climbing shoes, a harness, a chalk bag and was in the climbing gym here and there. My PTSD and anxiety kicked in a lot, so I didn’t go to the climbing gym much. I was also in tons of pain due to my injuries, and started to make excuses about why I wasn’t able to climb well. One day, I saw a climber who is up there in age and also an amputee, completely crushing sport climbs. After that moment, I told myself that I have zero excuses, and that I just needed to try harder.
I spent more time on the boulders as I would go early in the mornings and just climb alone with headphones in. Little by little, I started to go more often, and found that the climbing community was super chill and inviting. I made some new friends such as Erin Lassen who has been climbing consistently with me since and pushing me. Later down the line, more and more people would climb with us here and there, some complete beginners, and others who were crushers. We have a nice mix of climbers within our small group.
What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?
Helping other climbers learn about the sport and providing education about the benefits of climbing has been very fulfilling in itself. I was once a personal trainer and conditioning coach, but after a long period, I had lost that motivation to coach, so getting back into the groove of things has been fun. Around December 2019, before COVID had hit, I set out to try something new which was to build my own climbing wall in my garage, completely by myself and from scratch. I named it “Moon Rock Bouldering Co.” to pay homage to the area that lead me to climbing. Through a lot of trial and error, I built my first wall section that I could train on and work on my weaknesses. I also saw it as a way to learn route setting, which I believed would help me learn movements faster.
As COVID had hit, climbing gyms closed down left and right and outdoor climbing was off limits for a while. So climbers started to schedule days to use the garage to train and stay fresh through the pandemic peak. Climbers pitched in donations, which lead to me rebuilding the wall with new funds and knowledge gained from training. The wall upgrade had a steeper overhang and small crack with more climbing surface. But I was not fully satisfied, as I had plans to build a roof section.
At the time of this interview, the final section of Moon Rocks is under construction, with some really wild angles and a double roof section. I wanted to create a wall that had features not available in any local gyms. I wanted to make a very challenging wall that our climbing group could use to improve technique. Climbers like Frida Cambero will be using the wall regularly, as she pursues climbing pro status. Being a part of her journey and other climbers journeys has been greatly fulfilling, and will guide me to the next level in climbing.
If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?
Wow, that’s a deep question. Despite the limitations you face, you can still learn to do something new and different. Be daring, willing to learn and pour your heart into your goals. Support those around you who have goals and prop up your friends' dreams. As a climbing community, that alone can really help propel the sport to new heights. It can also save a life!!
Everyone has internal struggles they may deal with, but some time on a rock climbing wall can prove to be very beneficial. I guess that’s technically more than one thing, so to summarize, just be a better human
Is there something you're working on that you'd like to tell our community about? We love a good story.
Currently I have major plans to turn Moon Rocks Boulder Co into a full on training center that climbers, van lifers and athletes can utilize when passing through the Reno area. I would equate it to an “Air BNB” for the above mentioned, with the climbing wall, training areas and very chill atmosphere. It would be the first of its kind, and would be a great way to really learn from climbers from across the US.
Next year I plan to buy a camper van so I can spend more time on the road working on photography, videography and climbing. I want to spend more time outdoors and on rock, and hopefully travel to get other veterans set up with climbing. The challenge, focus, adrenaline rush and commitment of climbing are all things veterans can use to overcome PTSD and depression.
Adaptive climbing is something that has interested me since there are tons of people who are unaware that they are able to climb with the right equipment. That alone can have major positive impacts in their lives.
My biggest personal goals are to climb all 7 summits and to do more ice climbing and try Highline. COVID put a damper on trips this year, which is fine as I still need to get more gear.
Eventually I’d love to learn about climbing photography and videography like Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin, I have a huge respect for the work they do. Climbing is one thing, but doing it with a camera and gear and getting the best shots is another. Films such as Meru and Mountain were major inspirations to get out and see the world more. I want to learn to capture other climbers journeys and tell their stories.
Favorite thing about Dynamite Starfish?
I really love how Starfish helps the climbing community grow and how they support local projects and climbers. This is one of the things I really enjoy about the climbing community, is how tight knit everyone is.
You can find Rob on Instagram at @rharo.media
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!
Until next time!
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