Climber Story: Stephen Hymer

February 28, 2024 4 min read

Climber Story: Stephen Hymer

To start, tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Stephen Hymer! I am 25 years old, I have been climbing for around 3.5 years, and I am a full-time routesetter!

I grew up in San Diego, CA before moving up to Tacoma for college and graduated with BAs in Psychology and Communications Studies. I started working at Edgeworks Tacoma in youth programs, and then moved to the routesetting department as a hold-washer and bolt sorter.

I worked my way up to forerunner and was the first pre-crew person at my facility. I started setting in 2021 and now proudly work in setting full-time!

How did you start climbing?

During 2020, my last college Ultimate Frisbee season had ended due to the pandemic, and a housemate suggested that I trying climbing. So I bought some cheap gear and started climbing! Needless to say, I got bit by the bug pretty hard. 

What impact has climbing had on your life?

If it weren't for climbing I would not have met a lot of my really good friends, and I would not have started working the first job I actually liked. It's definitely a sport that I plan to develop in for years to come. I now hold goals for my career in an industry that, if you were to ask me as a kid if I thought I'd be working in, I'd have called you crazy.

I have gained even more appreciation for the outdoors and the community aspect of climbing. On the flip side, I have become increasingly injury/health conscious since my income is reliant on my body being healthy. If I'm injured, I don't have much income.

Additionally, I have seen the way that the toxic side of the climbing world/industry has negatively impacted myself and others. I'm fortunate enough to have met and worked with people who give me hope that the future holds a healthier and more inclusive environment for this sport we all love. I hope to use my current and future positions in the industry to contribute to creating a better future for climbing.

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

I love learning about subjects that have nothing to do with my profession or what I studied in college. I think that having the freedom to learn about what I want on my own time has really expanded my motivation to learn and increased my overall understanding of various subjects. I generally lean towards: Aviation, urban planning/design, and character/literary analysis.

Work wise, I absolutely love it when the climbs I put up motivate people to keep trying, and/or they come away from the climbing with a positive experience. It truly makes all the hard work worth it in the end.

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

I think that society really and truly neglects and underestimates the amateur. We are raised to believe that our skills are only worth how much money we can make out of them.

We constantly have the top 5% of people in every activity out there in our feeds, in advertisements, and in our conversations. And credit to those people, they deserve the recognition for their skill and efforts!

However, that doesn't mean your experience is any less valid just because you don't make money off something. If you love something you do, that's freaking awesome. If it brings you joy, don't stop. If someone places your potential value on how much money you, "...could make if you sold this," or "can you imagine if you/they took classes?" don't let that dissuade you.

And if something doesn't bring you joy, it's okay to take a break! Do what you love for your own sake, and if people shame you for being passionate in what you love and sharing that joy, then they don't deserve you in their life.  

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

I'm working on a collab video between my account and Expensive Boulders on how much it cost me to sport climb last year. It would be the initial (retail) cost of all my gear, then that cost divided over each outing over a 6 month period. The goal of this is to show how much climbing can cost someone, and that even the common argument that "it's invested over time" still includes an initial start up cost that can be a barrier to a lot of people.

Generally speaking, I'd like to do more videos examining the expenses of climbing since I think it is generally underestimated just how much climbing can cost, while it is simultaneously overestimated how affordable various climbing disciplines can be; even if you share gear with others. This applies to both time and money.

You can find Stephen on Instagram at @shymersortasends.

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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