Climber Spotlight: Wade Morris

When it comes to getting after it—and by getting after it, I mean wild and challenging pre-dawn mountain adventures—Wade Morris is easily one of the first climbers who comes to mind.

While the rest of us are just taking our first sips of morning coffee, chances are Wade has already logged somewhere between 5-15 pitches at Eldorado Canyon or summited a 14’er or two … all while still making it on time to work at 8am. Truly, Wade stands out as one of the most dedicated and motivated climbers I’ve met, managing to pursue both his endless climbing and career goals with fervent passion. 

In this Climber Spotlight, Wade shares insight into his wide range of climbing pursuits, life decisions that have aided his adventure-driven passions, and what he’d be doing if he wasn’t rock climbing.

outer space eldorado canyon
Outer Space: one of my all-time favorite classics in Eldorado Canyon. The climbing offers some of Eldo’s best exposure and steep climbing for the 5.10 grade. It’s one of my go-to climbs pre-work and for linkups. Photo: Ben Horton Photography

Quick Bites

  • Age: 27
  • Occupation: Sales and Business Development Manager
  • Birthplace: Los Gatos, California
  • Current location: Golden, Colorado
  • Education: Bachelors in Economics and Business
  • Years climbing: 8
  • Favorite crag: Eldo (Eldorado Canyon)
  • Favorite food: Pie!
  • Favorite climbing shoes: Scarpa Instinct VS
  • Favorite piece of gear: Yellow Alien
  • Personal: Instagram
sport climbing flat irons
My favorite area for local sport climbing is easily the Flatirons. The backsides of all these formations form very steep overhung huecoed climbs and are 20-min from my house! Photo: John Dale Photography

How were you introduced to climbing? Tell us about the experiences or mentors that have impacted you most.

I grew up going to Yosemite every summer with my family, so I was exposed to the greatest climbing area in America very early on. I didn’t start climbing consistently until college where I was an outdoor guide for the Cal Poly outdoor program called Poly Escapes. It was at Poly Escapes where I met my first true mentor and one of my best friends, Andrew. We continue to climb El Cap every year together.

My first outdoor climb was Royal Arches, where we brought bivy gear and slept on top. Going to sleep with Half Dome watching over me is a moment I’ll never forget. Within one month of that adventure, I had a full trad rack and ventured to Yosemite every chance I had.

Every year I climb El Capitan with my two friends Marc and Andrew. This photo is from high on The Shield route, easily my favorite route I've done thus far. Photo: Bergreen Photography
Every year I climb El Capitan with my two friends Marc and Andrew. This photo is from high on The Shield route, easily my favorite route I’ve done thus far. Photo: Bergreen Photography

You’re quite the multi-disciplinary climber and adventurer; can you tell us about the different styles you engage in and what draws you to each? Do you have a favorite? If so, why?

I’ve always enjoyed all aspects of climbing, but my heart lies in climbing big walls. Since moving to Colorado my disciplines revolve around the seasons. Alpine season only really lasts 3 months, so there is lots of time for all sorts of climbing. Alpine season takes a pretty big toll on me mentally and physically, so usually by its end, I’m ready to clip some bolts or head to the desert.

Winter lasts quite a long time here in Colorado, so I’ve taken up ice and mixed climbing. I have hopes of traveling to the bigger ranges (Alaska, Patagonia, etc.), and having a more rounded skill set is what gets you up walls. I’ll always be a trad climber at heart.

vail ice climbing
Vail offers the closest thing for winter craggin. Here I am sharpening my tools for another round. Photo: Ben Horton Photography

You live in the Colorado front range, a massive hub for outdoor enthusiasts. What are the best and worst aspects of living there?

Colorado is never short on the activities one can do. With so many people getting outside it can be hard to find solitude during certain times of the year.

For instance, one of my favorite areas is the Diamond, also known as the East Face of Longs Peak. It’s alpine big wall climbing at 13-14,000 ft. Come prime season though and there can be 15-30 people climbing on the wall at one time. Luckily adventure is never very far away. I’ve recently found myself exploring off the beaten path routes and have really enjoyed the journey.

One of the great things about Colorado is that there’s limitless potential for new routes; you just have to be willing to walk really far to get to them!

It seems like you take your training regimen pretty seriously. Can you give us some insight into your routine and approach? Do you take rest days?

My training regimen varies by the time of year. The past six months I’ve been working with Tom Randall and his team at Lattice Training with great results. In all reality, I just try to get outside climbing as much as possible, probably climbing 4-5 days a week. It’s generally less during alpine season, where I maybe get outside or in the gym once midweek.

wade morris mixed climbing
Vail amphitheater offers easy access for hard mixed climbing. When the alpine weather isn’t cooperating, I can take the short 90-minute drive to instant flash pump. Photo: Ben Horton Photography

What is your biggest secret or tip to being able to adventure and work full-time?

You have to make a conscious choice about where you live and work. Coming out of college, I had a great job with a Fortune 50 company but it required me to live in Orlando, Florida. We used to go to different climbing gyms as weekend trips when I lived there … After 2 years I realized it wasn’t what I wanted and took a job that brought me back west to Colorado.

Getting up early also helps. During the summer I often find myself in the Eldo parking lot at 5 am. I can get in 5-15 pitches before work starts at 8ish.

Bancroft Ridge
Two friends and I climbed the East Ridge of Bancroft before work in early spring. This involved leaving my house at 3am, summiting a 13,000 ft peak and being back to Golden by 8:15am for work! The ridge involves some easy 5.5 scrambling up a ridge.

Have you ever been/considered yourself a dirtbag? What’s your relationship to the dirtbag lifestyle?

Probably the closest I’ve come to the dirtbag lifestyle was in college, but even that isn’t really a dirtbag lifestyle. I did use some of my student loan money to buy a trad rack, so that quarter at school was interesting food wise. I enjoy pushing myself professionally in a career as much as I enjoy climbing, so the two together help balance me out.

Escalante Wade Morris
Escalante is Colorado’s version of Indian Creek. On average, the climbs are shorter but pack a bigger punch. My favorite time of year to travel here is in the heart of winter when the snow and red walls create a beautiful contrast. Photo: John Dale Photography

What is one piece of gear that has impacted your climbing style, efficiency, or comfort level?

Well, I’d have to say running shoes that you can climb in! Have you ever tried running around the alpine in approach shoes all day? It really hurts.

I’ve been using the La Sportiva Akasha and Dynafit Feline Verticals all summer and they have vastly upgraded my alpine season. I can comfortably climb 5.6 in them and run both to and from the trailheads.

Tell us about one of your proudest moments in climbing. What about your least proud moment?

This past fall I completed the NIAD (Nose in a Day) and it was definitely one of my proudest moments. My friend Jason had never climbed a Yosemite big wall and I said I’d go with him. I jokingly threw out NIAD and he replied with a shit eating grin. Within five minutes we had airlines tickets and two months to train.

 

Related: Pitch 27: A Journey for the Nose in a Day

 

My least proud moment came this last winter and again it was with Jason. We attempted to climb the Diamond of Longs Peak in winter. We’ve both been up the face multiple times in the summer but in winter that face is in another world.

Getting to the base of the wall involves climbing the North Chimney, a 300-400-ft climb, which in summer goes around 5.4. Well, we got turned around in the early winter darkness and accidently climbed Fields Chimney, which in winter goes at WI5 M6+. We only had lightweight aluminum crampons and one lightweight mountaineering ax each. Our original plan was to arrive at the base of the Diamond around 7am, but climbing Field’s with inadequate gear put us there at 3pm. We decided to bail and take the walk of shame back to the car.

hessie chimney climb
The Hessie Chimney. This is a great backyard classic mixed climb that very rarely comes into form. My partner Jason and I ran up one afternoon to find the route in great condition. He also has been my greatest influence for ice and mixed climbing.

If you woke up and could never climb again, what would you do instead?

I’ve always wanted to paraglide. The thought of being able to launch from the top of a peak and cover so much ground is truly inspiring to me.

Check out this insane 1200km cross-country paragliding adventure with Will Gadd and Gavin McClurg.

What goals remain for this year? How about on your life’s bucket list?

A couple of goals will have to remain off this list because I’m hoping to develop an alpine big wall here in Colorado. I’ve completed my alpine season tick list and am now really looking forward to the fall. I already have El Cap and Half Dome trips planned as well.

I’m hoping to knock off one of my life’s bucket list next season by going to Patagonia, but that’s still in the works.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Climbing has opened my life to incredible opportunities and unbelievable relationships. I couldn’t imagine where I would be without it. Always remember to be nice to people just starting out because you were once a beginner too!

A huge thank you for sharing your story with us, Wade! Keep getting after those pre-dawn adventures and we wish you the best of luck in all of your other life pursuits.

To follow along with Wade’s adventures and get some serious stoke, follow Wade Morris on Instagram.


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  • Meggan

    Great insight and write up Natalie! Thanks for sharing Wade!