Climber Story: Ryan Allard

August 02, 2023 5 min read

Climber Story: Ryan Allard - Dynamite Starfish

To start, tell us a little bit about yourself

Hi! My name is Ryan. I'm a 39-year-old native Rhode Islander. For work, I am a server at a fancy Italian Restaurant, and when I'm not working I go climbing with Rascal, my best friend and dog.

One unique fact about myself is that I was born with bi-lateral club feet. This means that anatomically, both of my feet were backwards, turned around and needed major corrective surgeries. I'm very thankful to my mom for being so courageous and pushing me to heal as I grew through some very painful years of procedures.

At 4 years old, I was prepared for my most extensive surgery to date. Two talented surgeons proceeded to fracture every bone and sever each tendon and ligament in both feet!! The bones were straightened and pinned while the tendons and ligaments were lengthened and repaired.

My feet were fixed!! Growing pains made many days difficult, but I was aways able to participate, and compete, in any sport or activity I set my sights on.

How did you start climbing?

Interest in climbing began when a good friend praised how therapeutic and fun climbing has been for them. So about ten years ago, I first walked into the iconic Rockspot Climbing Gym in Lincoln, RI.

Naturally, I gravitated to the boulder walls while thinking "Wow, just shoes and chalk." and became enamored with the movement and curious about the VEEZ!

A couple try hard moves later and I was hooked. The love of the sport was sparked and continued to alight over the next few years.

What impact has climbing had on your life?

At age 35, about five years ago, I decided to quit drinking. Alcohol had become THE priority in my life and my health, relationships, career, and happiness were all in jeopardy.

There were many people, places, and things that assisted my sobriety. Nothing was as rewarding or fulfilling as getting my hands on some rough New England granite to test my grit and mettle.

As problems became projects and projects became sends, I felt an affinity to this sport. This was something my attention could be driven at.

Consistent days in the gym brought gains in both strength and confidence. I bought better shoes. I invested in my first crashpad, a cushy blue bi-fold, that was soon joined by a second tri-fold version to protect myself as I experimented with transitioning to outdoor boulders.

Scouting boulders at this time was such an adventure! I usually climbed by myself and after deciding that yes, I think this particular section of the rock is what the guidebook describes, I would proceed to give that random stone my maximum effort.

The VEEZ grew and so did my love of this activity! But in 2020, COVID's impact on our access to outdoor spaces attempted to dampen the fire I had been stoking...

I kept climbing. Now, I was strapping on a harness and learning about quickdraws and notorious sounding 'whippers' from the sportclimbing crew. The vertical world would become a whole lot grander on my first trip to Rumney, NH.

I kept telling myself, "it's just a big boulder!" as I groveled throught the bolts and clipped my way to the chains. This was a little different than topping out fifteen feet above my crashpads at my homecrag of Lincoln Woods, RI. I was a hundred feet in the air!

Fast-forward to today. I've been to some spectacular places and met some wonderful people and their fuzzy crag pets. The climbing community has yet to disappoint.

My time on the rocks and my experiences in our outdoor spaces has become a very special part of my life!

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

I can do lots of things! In the kitchen, I have tasty culinary chef skills. I can frame and finish an entire house. I love music and play a few different instruments. My favorite is playing jazz on my double-trigger Bass Trombone. It's gigantic! You can also hear me carry a mellifluous tune, even out of the shower!

My 100% FAVORITE thing to do is spend time with my dog, Rascal. Just over seven ago I kissed his puppy face for the first time! His nose was still pink!! He's been my everyday companion, and I love to bring him to new places and fill his life with as much happiness and comfort as I can.

Rascal enjoys a full day at the crag and is a decent scrambler even if he's a little goofy. He's a wonderful disc-golf companion too. He likes to sniff the course and get directly in the way of the next shot!

On my tough days, he's always there with a wagging tail and big amber eyes. As I watch my best friend get a little older, I've learned to take each day as it comes and appreciate the goodness that surrounds me. I couldn't ask for a better companion. 

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

I would tell everyone to get a pet!! Dogs are obviously my favorite! Cats, birds, fish, reptiles, heck even a pet rock!

These animal friends can fill our lives with so much joy. We don't just save them, they save us too. 

Favorite thing about Dynamite Starfish?

Your love of animals and climbing!! 

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

My main goal when I began climbing was the elusive V10 boulder before I turned 40. As the summer moves along and my birthday looms closer, I've realized that although my goal was lofty at the time, I've progressed so much that I guess I wasn't so far off!

Since lately I've been focusing a bit more on hard sport climbing redpoints, I'd like to add 5.13a to my goal list. 40 might pass by, but I don't plan on slowing down.
The goal remains!! So let's see what's first? The V10 or the 5.13a?!

P.S. V11 is actually 8a which I guess is the actual goal? Better get training!!


You can find Ryan on Instagram at @rcallard83.

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!

Dynamite Starfish
Dynamite Starfish

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