Climber Story: Chris Vultaggio

May 18, 2022 3 min read

Climber Story: Chris Vultaggio - Dynamite Starfish

To start, tell us a little bit about yourself

Hi, my name is Chris. I'm 44 years old, and I'm a professional photographer/filmmaker and board Member for the Gunks Climbers Coalition. I'm happily married to Alexis Krauss and we call the Gunks NY our home.

How did you start climbing?

From a young age, I was never athletic in the sense of team sports, and I was driven towards other types of expression — primarily music.

Instead of the usual soccer, baseball, and football, I got involved in BMXing, skateboarding, and even inline skating. At an early age, I found myself drawn to the very personal (not team) challenges of progression. Once in college, these activities funneled into competitive downhill bike racing, which was a great mental primer for climbing as well as snowboarding.

Around that point (in the late 90s), I always remember driving past rock and ice climbers along route 73 while heading to the Adirondacks and finally decided to give it a go.

I got my friend a beginner package at a local climbing gym for his birthday (mainly because I wanted to try it), and it was totally love at first grip. Climbing just seemed to fit my body — which was clearly not engineered for football...

What impact has climbing had on your life?

Climbing has directed just about all aspects of my life for over two decades. Professionally, I have been lucky enough to make some headway into the outdoor industry with my photography/filmmaking.

From a personal development perspective, climbing has allowed for a pretty wild arena in which to push myself physically, mentally, and emotionally far beyond comfort. And when you start spending that much time outside of you comfort zone, it opens all sorts of doors for personal development: being comfortable with risk, fear-management, and fostering a learning-centric relationship with success/failure. In my opinion, these all lead to a better self in all aspects of life, which translates to personal relationships, professional development, and a community mindset.

More acutely, climbing has led me to the love of my life, with whom I've been fortunate enough to multiply our effects on the climbing community.

Rock climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering have taken me all over the world, and have offered me the strongest friendships and partnerships I've ever had without a doubt.

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

Most-certainly climbing photography, but outside this world I am a volunteer EMT of over a decade. I still love spending time on two wheels and snowboarding, going trail running, and losing myself in making music.

I first connected with my wife on a project to help protect Bears Ears. Since then, we've returned a number of times to work with Native Tribes in Southern Utah and are honored to have been welcomed into their communities.

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

With all apologies to dear friend Kathy Karlo, I'd say that climbing isn't about climbing. It's the community that matters long term more than anything. All the tagged-summits, hard sends, and long alpine days would be drained of all meaning without the partnership and friendship of those you meet along the way.

You'll get into climbing because of the physical (I did), but climbing goes so far beyond crimps and hand-jams. It's the after dark post-gym climbing parking lot sessions with friends, and the shared long drives to alpine objectives. It's seeing those you first taught how to tie a figure-8 go out and lead a pitch on their own.

Favorite thing about Dynamite Starfish?

DS is a woman-owned business that is crushing it in the industry with an incredible product!

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

Super stoked about a potential film project I am working on, but can't reveal too much about it here. What I can say is I'm very much looking forward to working with some incredible athletes to help break down some serious gender and cultural barriers in a very remote setting. It'll be an important production that goes beyond the typical climbing film.

You can find Chris on Instagram at @chris_vultaggio or check out his incredible work at Vultaggio Studios.

Want to get to know more of the climbers in the amazing Dynamite Starfish community? Check out our archive of Climber Stories 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!

Dynamite Starfish
Dynamite Starfish

1 Response

Tony Cruz
Tony Cruz

May 27, 2022

This is incredible, I enjoyed it very much. The photos are breathtaking and calming at the same time. This inspires me to continues with my dreams and goals. This represents that obstacles are challenges that must be conquered to educate and elevated the person within.

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