Joe Kinder has been in the climbing headlines quite a lot recently, especially with his new route Re-up 14d in Southern Utah. I wanted to get a little more insight into his world with a short interview. Find out more about this larger-than-life personality at joekindkid.com
1. Joe what does it mean to you to be a professional climber?
To be a “professional” is by standard and definition, to earn a living in a certain engagement or livelihood. I would say that a professional climber is simply a person who makes a living through the climbing world.
2. Who are some other professional climbers that you admire and why?
I would honestly rather answer this question with ‘who are some professionals in the industry in which I admire’?
There are climbers, there are photographers and there are people who work in companies that I have lots of respect for. There’s Tim Kemple, because of his professionalism, productivity, and imagination. He has business class that shows from years of making his product valuable and innovative. Now he is able to make a fine living taking photos, which is his passion and livelihood.
Chris Sharma is another example of how it is possible to create and utilize marketability. He has created a “staple-name” in climbing that will last forever. He has a great approach to the sponsorship business, and really does have it figured out.
I am also a great advocate for certain companies’ motives in advertising. Like La Sportiva’s Solution Tour and Gregory Pack’s endeavors to create packs geared for climbing. Right now I am actually participating in a video and photo campaign with Tim Kemple to expose the development process and concept of the packs. Also Petzl’s Roc Trips and Eastern Mountain Sports’ Nor’Easter event are huge ways to give climbing notoriety and a great name.
3. How does a climber become a professional?
People seem to ask me this question all the time. I have been in this game for a while now and learned lots about how to make a living as a climber. It is really not for everyone, as it can require some traits that not everyone has. The best way I can explain to someone about how to make a move into the professional direction is this…. It is vital to separate CLIMBING and the BUSINESS side. They are completely different entities and only correlate in small ways. Rock climbing is the love, the passion and the greatest game in the world. The business is a world of network, time, effort, value, marketability, confidence, work, and basically a means to keep your head afloat so you can continue doing what you love.
4. How long do you think you can remain a professional climber?
I would say as long as you can offer your sponsors a reason to support you.
5. What does the future hold for the climbing industry in your view?
Well, more people getting involved with climbing is inevitable. It’s such a great sport and with the media, gyms, athletes, and companies advertising properly it will grow. How big? Who knows, big enough for the next generation of professionals to make even a better living than now.
Thanks Joe and good luck to you and Colette on your travels!