Matty Hong started climbing when he was so young that he can’t even remember climbing for the first time. In this week’s Climber Spotlight, we hear Matty’s story of how the community of Boulder and his family’s love for climbing shaped him into the climber and man he is today.
How did you get into climbing? Tell us about the early days of your climbing career.
My parents Steve Hong and Karin Budding introduced me to climbing at a young age. Both are still active climbers and my most consistent partners! I don’t remember when I started climbing, similar to how I don’t remember my first steps, but I know it’s always been a big part of my life and who I am.
You grew up in a family of crushers. What was that like? How did your family’s love of climbing help mold you into the climber/person that you are today?
Without a doubt my parents have been the most influential to my climbing. Not only were they my first sponsor, they have always supported my passion for climbing, even if I had to miss school.
Together, they taught me to climb by taking me outdoors, since that is how they learned and what they were most passionate about. Having the exposure of climbing outside at a young age made me fall in love with the outdoors and motivated me to travel and climb in new places.
What do you do when you’re not climbing? Do you have a job? Have you found it hard to balance your love for climbing with real life responsibilities?
Currently I’m due to graduate in December 2015 at the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts in film production. It feels like I have been in school forever—I am excited to be done with it and pursue my passion for climbing and filmmaking further.
I am also a route setter at a local gym in Boulder. It has been difficult to balance work and play these past few years but I have managed, partially due to living in Boulder, which has a large climbing community and a surplus of rock close by.
Tell us about one of the proudest moments in your climbing career.
I’m proud of my hardest sends, of course, since they mark a moment in my climbing when I am performing my best. I think more recently; although it wasn’t my hardest redpoint, I bolted and climbed the first ascent of a route in Rifle, La Cucaracha (5.14c).
This was the first route I’ve bolted myself and the whole experience was new very gratifying for me and something I am excited to do more of in the future.
Tell us about a not so proud moment in your climbing career.
Once I convinced a friend’s parents to allow him to come climbing with me, which wasn’t easy and promised to return him without injuries. Just moments into a day bouldering at Lincoln Lake, he fell down a pit in the talus sliding on his finger nearly cutting it off. Surprisingly, his parents let me take him out again a few months later.
If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner climber, what would it be?
Don’t compare yourself to someone who has been climbing for years. It’s a slow process of becoming a better climber, if you don’t get too frustrated you’ll end up loving it.
Watch Matty crush a bunch of V14 in Colorado:
If you could give one piece of advice to a v15/5.15 crusher, what would it be?
Check your ego; make sure you’re still having fun.
What’s next for you? Winter plans? Any big trips/projects/goals?
First things first—I need to graduate this fall. Then I’m off to see how many climbing days I can have in 2016.
Thanks for sharing your story Matty! A huge congratulations for recently placing first the Yank and Yard comp. We can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!