Ian climbing Ivory Face

Ian bearing down for the first ascent of Ivory Face at Devil’s Lake. Photo: Steve Shultz

When Ian Cotter-Brown was just five years old, he established his first boulder problem: The Bedroom Hall Chimney Traverse, located in the hallway of his parent’s house in Middelton, Wisconsin. Just a few years after sending and repeating this bold ultra-classic, Ian’s father knew it was time for a family outing to Devil’s Lake.

Ian spent many years top-roping with his Dad, but when he was a teenager he brought a homemade crash pad to the crag and started bouldering with his friends. As he got older, the old school ethics of Devil’s Lake and his Dad’s distaste for bolts started to shape Ian as a climber. He didn’t even know that “sport climbing” existed until he moved away from Wisconsin. To this day, Ian considers himself a boulderer, an alpinist, and a trad climber.

I would not call myself a sport climber, though if I’m on a longer or scary route I will happily clip a bolt.  Don’t get me wrong, I have sport climbed plenty, but I don’t seek it out these days.  I think it is my traditional upbringing rubbing off on me.


Related: Climbing Ethics: Vital Decison-Making Scenarios


Watch Ian work Stone Fort’s The Shield (V12) in Chattanooga, TN:

After spending some time developing new boulders in Wisconsin, Ian recently came back to Bishop, CA with a well-trained eye for spotting new lines. In the past few months, he has put up new problems in both the Buttermilks and the Happys, stating:

I’m actually surprised how many things are left to be done.

Ian has dedicated his life to rock climbing, and finds work as a climbing coach, guide, and freelance film-maker. He is also the author of soon to be published guidebook for Devil’s Lake bouldering. Ian currently lives in Bishop with his girlfriend, Erin Ayla, where he plans to spend the season ticking off old projects and looking for new lines.


Related: Climbing Destination Guide: Bishop, California

Ian climbing Crouching Tiger

Ian on the first ascent of Crouching Tiger in the Buttermilks, CA. Photo: Erin Ayla

Ian climbing Delicate Heart

On the first ascent of Delicate Heart in Lake Tahoe, CA. Photo: Joe Devaughn

To keep up with Ian and Erin’s adventures, check out their blog. Ian is supported by Evolv and Fixe Hardware.